A couple months ago I gave an interview with SB Nation’s own Ohio State blog, Land Grant Holy Land, where I explained that I couldn’t pick The Ohio State (TOSU) to win an NCAA wrestling championship in 2015.
I reasoned that while TOSU had the most talent in the country, they didn’t have enough proven winners on the NCAA level. Only two of their wrestlers have ever placed at an NCAA tournament, and I can’t think of the last time that a team has won a team national championship with only two returning All Americans (Penn State had three in 2011, Iowa had three in 2008 and Oklahoma State had three in 2003). I figured that a team needs more confirmed point scorers if they were to receive my prediction for national ascendancy.
It would appear that I’ve changed my mind, and I’ve done this for three reasons. First, with the benefit of some early season open tournament results, I can confirm that TOSU sports the most promising trio of freshman that I have ever seen debut at the same time. Nathan Tomasello at 125 pounds, Bo Jordan at 165 pounds and Kyle Snyder at 197 are legitimate national title contenders in their very first year of varsity competition, and though Tomasello’s title bid is a long shot, I expect all three wrestlers to place fifth or higher in the NCAA tournament.
My second reason revolves around TOSU’s two returning All Americans, Logan and Hunter Stieber. I firmly believe that both wrestlers will win national championships this year at 141 and 149 pounds respectively (Logan has already won three, I’m not exactly going out on a limb), and two national champions and their bonus points effectively take a team halfway to the point total needed to win the team title. This will be a higher weight for Hunter, but he has the frame for it as he demonstrated this past summer winning a Pan Am gold medal at 70 kg.
Finally, and the element of TOSU’s team that may allow them to blow the national title race wide open, is the remaining five wrestlers beside the super freshman and the Stiebers. All five remaining Buckeyes, 133 pounder Donny Dijulius, 157 pounder Josh Demas, 174 pounder Mark Martin, 184 pounder Kenny Courts and 285 pounder Nick Tavanello enjoy top 12 national rankings from Intermat. If three or more of those wrestlers slip through to All-American status, Ohio State may win by a landslide.
Oh yeah, there’s always the chance that Tavanello might lose the starting spot to Thomas Haines, a true freshman who wrapped up his fourth Pennsylvania state title last year and arrived at Columbus as the nation’s number 2 heavyweight recruit.
With the help of our friend Earl Smith a D1CollegeWrestling.net, we can present Ohio State’s likely lineup:
125-Nathan Tomasello (Fr)
133-Johnni DiJulius (Jr) 2014 NCAA Qualifier, 2012 NCAA Qualifier
141-Logan Stieber (Sr) 2014 NCAA Champ, 2013 NCAA Champ, 2012 NCAA Champ
149-Hunter Stieber (Jr) 2013 NCAA 3rd Place, 2012 NCAA 6th Place
157-Josh Demas (Sr) 2013 NCAA Qualifier–Round of 12, 2012 NCAA Qualifier
165-Bo Jordan (Fr)
174-Mark Martin (Jr) 2014 NCAA Qualifier, 2013 NCAA Qualifier
184-Kenny Courts (Jr) 2014 NCAA Qualifier–Round of 12
197-Kyle Snyder (Fr)
285-Nick Tavanello (So) 2014 NCAA Qualifier–Round of 12
The way I see it, the Stiebers should earn TOSU around 50 team points, and the three super freshman should push the team total over 90. The remainder of the lineup will at least pull in 20 points, and I just don’t think any other team in the field can realistically notch more than 110 points at nationals this year.
Head coach Tom Ryan should lead the Buckeyes to their first-ever national wrestling championship, which will be fun for the five minutes until everyone realizes that most of TOSU’s lineup returns next year and that the stupid O-H-I-O chant is completely insufferable.
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