BUCKEYES BANK BACK-TO-BACK BIG10 WRESTLING TITLES

By Ron John Rinaldi
Mar. 06, 2018

"BIG LIFE. BIG STAGE. BIG 10"

Near 6,000 wrestling fans migrated up to East Lansing, Michigan for the Big 10 Wrestling Championships this past weekend.

Located just 3 miles from the State Capitol, known as Spartan Country- with a city population of 45,000 and home to 40,000 students at their home institution Michigan State University, East Lansing is a town really only known for the Magic Johnson era and their fighting Spartans football squad.

The atmosphere was unlike. It was wrestling, not football or basketball that breached the quiet of the Michigan State campus. This south central Michigan town saw its own cyclone hit as it was bombarded by wrestling fans from across the nation to witness a first mini take of the Nationals tournament as BIG10 competitors battled in the Breslin Arena.

The final Team scores concluded with Ohio State as the 2018 Big Ten Wrestling Champions on Sunday with a team score of 164.5. The Buckeyes earned their second consecutive Big Ten Championship and 5th overall in its storied program history. Besides the team title, the Ohio State Buckeyes also went on to claim four individual titles starting with Nathan Tomasello at 125lbs , Joey McKenna at the 141lb class, Kollin Moore at 197 lbs and Kyle Snyder at Heavyweight. Awards even exceeded outside of the Ohio States competitors, as the Buckeyes Head Coach himself, Thomas Ryan was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Penn State finished with the silver, ending with 148 points, followed by third-place Michigan finishing with 118. Iowa finished in fourth place with 90.5 points and Nebraska rounded out the top five with 72.5 team points.

To ignite the night, Nathan Tomasello captured his 4th Big10 Title to become the 15th wrestler of All-Time to accomplish this feat, defeating Minnesota’s Nathan Lizak for the second time this year. Tomasello out wrestled Spencer Lee in a highly contested Semi-Final bout to move on and in the title bout, Tomasello scored a routine takedown early in the bout, then the Gopher dug himself out of an early deficit by racking near falls and a reversal, nevertheless Tomasello powered through with a takedown at the closing seconds to seal the Gold at 125 pounds.

At the 133 pound weight class, the Buckeyes had their second finalist of the night, Luke Pletcher compete against #1 seed Stephan Micic of Michigan. Micic got in on a quick takedown to get up early on Pletcher, but persisting with short sit outs and movement on bottom, Pletcher was able to get out with a Granby Roll in the 3rd period to get within 2-points. Micic survived fending two consecutive shots by Pletcher with a Russian tie defense to hold on to capture his first BIG10 title and first of the day for the Wolverines.

Micic dominated the top bracket racking up a major and two-technical fall defeats, one of them over Nebraska's Renteria-really welcoming him to top Big-10 competition.

For the 141 pound final, Joey McKenna defeated Mike Carr of the Fighting Illini' in devastating fashion tallying 13 points to zero to capture his first BIG10 Title and the second of the day for the Buckeyes.

The 149-pound gold went to Zain Retherford of Penn State, who earned a decision over Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen. Zain rode out the lone Hawkeye finalist, Sorenson, the whole second period and routed an escape from underneath to win just 2-0. Retherford, who was questionably pinned defensively by Ohio States Keyshawn Hayes in the Semi-Finals, went on to win the BIG10 Wrestler of the Year award after winning his 3rd Big 10 title.

Following the biggest Pin of his career, Micah Jordan of the Buckeyes faced off against Alec Pantaleo of the Wolverines, who went on to beat Jordan for the second time this year in claiming a hard fought 3-1 decision.

The 165 pound weight flared excitement all weekend, with upsets like the "Bull" Marinelli going down in the quarterfinals to Logan Massa from Michigan and Ritchie Lewis of Rutgers in the backside bracket. Not to mention, the bizarre stall call against Logan Massa of Michigan which gave Vincenzo Joseph the point to reach the finals.

Nevertheless, we saw a rematch of the 2017 NCAA Finals and results rotated as Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez, the top-seeded 165-pound wrestler, posted a 4-1 decision over Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State to win his fourth-consecutive conference title. Martinez became the 16th wrestler in Big Ten history and the second wrestler of the day to win the fourth individual title of his career, thereby joining his head coach Jim Heffernan in that elite club.

Martinez went on to say after his final bout, "It's only been 351 days since the last time we wrestled, but I'm not obsessed."

At 174 pounds, Myles Amine of Michigan had a great tournament and stunned the arena sticking Bo Jordan in the semi finals, and aggressively pushing Hall to nearly giving up a stalling point late in the 3rd to tie up the match! Even so, #1 rank and undefeated Mark Hall of Penn State picked up a Big Ten title, securing a Gold medal with an 4-3 decision over Amine.

At 184 pounds, Hall's teammate and next man up in Penn States famously known Murderers row, Bo Nickal, another 1 seed, claimed a 7-4 decision over No. 2 Miles Martin of Ohio State, earning his second-straight Big Ten title.

Tables turned as, Top-seeded Moore of Ohio State successfully defended his 197-pound title, earning an 8-4 decision over Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed.

Last but not least, in a battle for the record books, rounding out the group of individual Big Ten Champions was No. 2 Kyle Snyder of Ohio State, who revenged his only loss in 3-years, to claim an exhilarating 4-2 sudden victory over Adam Coon of Michigan for his third conference title.

BIG TEN WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS INDIVIDUAL AWARDS
Wrestler of the Year: Zain Retherford, Penn State
Freshman of the Year: Spencer Lee, Iowa
Coach of the Year: Thomas Ryan, Ohio State
Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships: Isaiah Martinez, Illinois

2018 ALL-BIG TEN TEAM
Isaiah Martinez, Illinois
Stevan Micic, Michigan
Alec Pantaleo, Michigan
Joey McKenna, Ohio State
Kollin Moore, Ohio State
Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State
Kyle Snyder, Ohio State
Mark Hall, Penn State
Bo Nickal, Penn State
Zain Retherford, Penn State

COMPLETED BIG 10 BRACKETS:

[ALL PHOTOS IN ARTICLE ARE TAKEN BY RON JOHN RINALDI]

NORTHWESTERN WALKED AWAY BIG10's WITH ONE OTHER ACHIEVEMENT!^

PIN OF THE TOURNAMENT!!!

THAT'S ALL FOLKS!! -RON JOHN RINALDI