Ohio State wrestler Kyle Snyder shared an interesting perspective Wednesday, the afternoon before the start of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
“It’s going to be a good team race this year,” he said, sharing the stage with wrestlers from the likes of Iowa, Oklahoma State and Penn State. “I think there’s a couple teams that can challenge to win this tournament. I’m excited about that.”
The interesting part? Snyder spoke those words prior to hearing the news that the Nittany Lions’ Nick Suriano (125 pounds) wouldn’t be competing.
Suriano’s injury may have just blown the door wide open for teams like the Buckeyes, Cowboys and Hawkeyes to knock Penn State from its top spot. At the very least, the Lions are sure to have some stiff competition from the teams sharing the stage with Snyder.
Here’s a closer look at three of those teams:
The Buckeyes enter the national tournament as the reigning Big Ten champions.
They had six wrestlers reach the conference finals with Nathan Tomasello (133), Bo Jordan (174), Kollin Moore (197) and Snyder (285) claiming titles.
Besides Tomasello and Micah Jordan (149), Ohio State is rather weak at the lighter weight classes. Instead, it counts on its upper weights — starting with Jordan, Myles Martin (184), Moore and Snyder.
“We have nine here, and we need for all nine to score,” Buckeyes coach Tom Ryan said. “At the Big Tens, we felt we needed at least five in the finals to win. We happened to get six. This weekend, I think it will take four. So as you look at the brackets, we’re going to have to beat some really good people. Our guys are excited about it.”
If Ryan is correct, he will likely need only three others to reach the finals as it will be tough to see Snyder — the reigning Olympic champion — not getting there.
The Hawkeyes finished third in the Big Ten championships.
They have nine wrestlers set to compete — and three of them didn’t receive a seed.
Iowa isn’t as strong as they normally are. Yes, it had four finalists in the Big Tens, but only two won in Thomas Gilman (125) and Sammy Brooks (184).
Anything can happen, but Gilman and Kemerer could be the only finalists for the Hawkeyes this year. Cory Clark, who was a finalist last season, is competing in one of the toughest weight classes at 133 pounds.
“We’re ready to go. We’re excited to be here,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said on Wednesday. “If you ask any of our guys, they’ll tell you the same. And I’m not even speaking for them. We’re ready to roll.”
The Cowboys might be the biggest threat of all.
They have all 10 of their wrestlers in St. Louis. Oklahoma State also had all 10 of their wrestlers in the Big 12 finals — and only two lost.
Granted, the Big 12 isn’t the toughest conference in the country when it comes to wrestling. But it is still an impressive feat to have 10 guys in the conference’s finals.
Cowboys coach John Smith feels the key to win the title is for all 10 wrestlers to earn All-America status. That would tie a record held by Minnesota.
“I think we’re going to need to count on all 10. I’m not sure where they place is going to make a big difference,” Smith said. “We have positioned ourselves well after the Big 12, gave ourselves an opportunity. That’s all I was asking for and then they responded. So, yeah, I think for us we need to count on all 10. Anything less, it may be a little bit tough for us.”