Buckeye Insider: Injuries Piling Up On Ohio State

Tom Ryan got into some trouble putting together Ohio State’s newest wrestling roster.

Tom Ryan got into some trouble putting together Ohio State’s newest wrestling roster.

The Buckeye coach had to scrape a few names right off the bat.

“We’ve got more injuries than we’ve ever had in a single weekend,” Ryan said after the undermanned Buckeyes defeated Kent State on Sunday.

They got by without four starters, all of whom had various bumps and bruises. After a rough and stormy Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Ohio State edged out Jesse Mendez (133), Paddy Gallagher (157), Carson Kharchla (165) and Tate Orndorff (285).

Mendez and Gallagher were injured in previous duels while Kharchla and Orndorff used medical losses in Las Vegas.

“I would call it more bad luck,” Ryan said.

All are expected to return this season, with some potentially as early as this weekend when Ohio State joins Penn State, Cornell, Lehigh, NC State, North Carolina, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Central Michigan, Lock Haven, Cal Poly and Oregon State bumps the Collegiate Duals in New Orleans.

Mendez will be traveling with the team and Ryan described him as everyday wearable.

“The goal is to be healthy for it,” Ryan said. “Of course, with a healthy team, this is a great team. They have to be healthy and keep scoring.”

Ohio State will play first Lock Haven and then Northern Iowa on Monday before placement games on Tuesday.

Skinny at 165

Ryan said the team plans to give Khachla a slightly longer break. He won’t wrestle in New Orleans.

It’s not ideal considering freshman Carter Chase has been on the shelf since his injury at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 5.

Bryce Hepner is the only other Buckeye listed at 165.

Reps are reps

The injuries have given Ohio State officials an opportunity to examine a handful of juveniles.

Coveted candidate Nic Bouzakis continues to impress with his matches. The former #2 overall recruit, who stepped in for Mendez at 133, improved to 5-1 with a 5-0 win over Kent State’s Brendon Fenton.

However, Ryan still plans to redshirt Bouzakis.

With Orndorff unavailable in the heavyweight division, Ryan turned to redshirt rookie Mike Misita to wrap up the duel.

The New Jersey native, who has wrestled Opens across the country since first donning a Buckeye singlet in 2021, finally wrestled his first significant match in front of Ohio State fans. He beat Kent State’s Jacob Cover 9-2.

“It’s great for the guys who fight in the room every day and never get a chance,” Ryan said. “If you’re not a starter, you can literally wrestle your entire career here and not see Covelli (center) in a doubles meet.”

Sasso’s Path of Destruction

Since his sudden victory loss to Virginia Tech’s Caleb Henson on November 11, Sammy Sasso has been in tears.

The Buckeye senior is 7-0 with three falls and two technical falls. Most of his damage was done in Las Vegas, where Sasso was tussling for the 149-pound championship.

He pinned North Carolina’s Jayden Scott, Ohio’s Alec Hagan and Oregon State’s Noah Tolentino before defeating fifth-placed Arizona State’s Kyle Parco in the finals.

What was the key for Sasso? He thinks broadly and has learned to calm down when his attacks don’t hit early.

“He’s wrestling a lot calmer now, with a lot more emotional control,” Ryan said. “Unless he gets that big position, which he’s very good at – he pins a lot of people with weigh-ins – he’s been a lot calmer for the rest of the game with a lot more energy.”

On the mend

Ethan Smith was among the Buckeyes who left Las Vegas sore and unfulfilled.

The 174-pounder started with two wins before losing 4-8 to Cornell’s Cristopher Foca. He medically fell to NC State’s Alexander Faison to end his Cliff Keen run.

“A lot of times after a weekend like Vegas, it’s really hard to get back on the horse and put that momentum forward,” Smith said.

But after not practicing all week and then watching Kent State pull off back-to-back wins to reduce Ohio State’s lead to 14-9 in Sunday’s clash, Smith couldn’t take it anymore.

It was time to get back on the mat. Minutes later, he finished Mason Karpinski 21-6 to crush any disgruntled ambitions of the Kent State Wrestlers.

“With guys off the lineup, you always have to think about the worst-case scenario,” Smith said. “This team looks at the results from Vegas and says, ‘With their hammers, maybe we can sneak up on them.’ Going out there, my goal was to get bonus points and give them zero hope of doing that.”

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