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B1G Wrestling // The Bucks Are Back

Ohio State Upsets PSU to Win B1G Wrestling Tourney

“More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill - none have wrestled without pride.” -Dan Gable

The B1G Wrestling Tournament always promises to showcase some of the best grapplers in the land. In a year when the news over the transom is that B1G basketball isn’t much to write home about, wrestling thankfully lived up to its expected billing. A fearsome field of talent took to the mats in Bloomington, filling a slate of all out star-power matchups that few (if any) college sports can match. A wild weekend of upsets and razor-thin margins culminated in a heavyweight bout that saw the youngest Olympic wrestling gold medalist in US history defend his B1G crown and ice Ohio State’s second B1G title in three years.

Penn State entered the tournament as the team to beat, having shown the now top-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys the door in impressive fashion last month—the same month that saw the Lions crush Ohio State 32-12 to open up a very long February for the Buckeyes. The 11-3 WrestleBucks arrived at the tourney ranked 6th nationally, following a curious 3-3 record in their final six outings.

Wrestling is a sport where fortunes change quickly, though—especially in unforgiving tourney formats. Penn State’s 125-pounder Nick Suriano suffered an ankle injury that left him a mere spectator in Assembly Hall, easing the journey for Iowa’s No. 1 seed Thomas Gilman to capture a B1G title. PSU star and top-seed Bo Nickal suffered a shocking upset in the first round, falling to Ohio State’s No. 4 seed Miles Martin in a heart-stopping match at 184. Martin finished second overall, and his victory put Ohio State in the driver’s seat. The Nittany Lions were never able to overcome their early deficit, though PSU came with .5 points of tying the Buckeyes after the 3rd place finish by Vicenzo Joseph in the 165 consolation match.

The Buckeyes put the title out of reach when top seed Bo Jordan defeated Penn State’s Mark Hall 6-4 in the overtime period to claim the crown at 174, followed by another Buckeye victory at 197 when Kollin Moore downed Minnesota’s Brett Pfarr. That pair of victories solidified the Buckeye win and took the pressure off heavyweight Kyle Snyder. The Maryland native and Rio 2016 gold medalist tips the scales at a slim 226 pounds of pure muscle, and you’re unlikely to ever see a more impressive composition of brute strength, flexibility, stamina, and coordination. To watch Snyder have his way with taller, heavier college opponents is to witness the naissance of what may be America’s next Dan Gable story.

Penn State’s fortunes may have been dashed, but their stars still had some nice hardware to show for their efforts. Top ranked Zain Retherford captured the title at 149, trouncing OSU’s Micah Jordan in a 16-1 tech fall. He also captured the Outstanding Wrestler award for the tournament. Illinois and Rutgers joined Penn State atop the podiums as well, with standout talent Isaiah Martinez capturing his third title for the Illini at 165. Rutgers’ Anthony Ashnault sealed up the 141-pound class for his second straight year as well.

The Buckeyes now own their second B1G title in three years, and only their fourth in school history. What was once a good program has seen its fortunes skyrocket under Tom Ryan. Penn State’s star power was undeniable, but the Buckeyes turned in a better performance across the board. Ryan’s team put six Buckeyes in the ten title matches, capturing four outright victories and two second place finishes. Despite a troubling February, the Buckeyes drew on a broader performance by talent at all weight classes to bring the trophy back to Columbus.

Before we close, some tourney thoughts from the other wrasslin’ fans among the beloved cadre of writers:

WSR: Ohio State's across-the-board talent was really impressive this weekend. I was wooed by PSU'S top-end stars and was wrong yet again. I was frustrated by how Minnesota fared in term of placement, but getting 9 guys to the National Tournament far exceeds what I expected.

stewmonkey13: The injury toI Iowa's heavyweight, Stoll, torpedoed any real shot they had at the team title. But Gilman and Brooks winning titles was nice, if somewhat expected. Iowa was generally disappointing in the consolation brackets.

MNW: Both Simley boys headed to the NCAAs, it looks like. Good.

thumpasaurus: Isaiah Martinez may be the most dominant athlete in the history of the University of Illinois.

The NCAA tournament (the tough one, not that crap where your office manager picks Bible State Jesus College over Duke) begins in three weeks in St. Louis. Penn State and Ohio State look to be top contenders for the NCAA title.

Final Team Standings

  1. OHIO STATE 139.5
  2. PENN STATE 130.0
  3. IOWA 112.5
  4. NEBRASKA 102.5
  5. MINNESOTA 93.0
  6. ILLINOIS 88.5
  7. MICHIGAN 83.0
  8. RUTGERS 67.5
  9. WISCONSIN 67.5
  11. MARYLAND 32.0
  12. PURDUE 26.0
  13. INDIANA 24.5

2017 All-B1G Team

Isaiah Martinez, Illinois

Sammy Brooks, Iowa

Thomas Gilman, Iowa

Bo Jordan, Ohio State

Kollin Moore, Ohio State

Kyle Snyder, Ohio State

Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State

Jason Nolf, Penn State

Zain Retherford, Penn State