Updated Mon, Feb 17, 2014 1:28 pm
Before Ohio wrestling grabbed a convincing win over the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday, it held its Senior Day ceremony to honor a distinguished class. Jeremy Johnson headlined the ceremony that also honored Garret Garness, Beau Wenger and Ryan Garringer.
No. 11 Johnson delivered on the special day, putting together a dominant performance that helped propel Ohio to a big lead that it rode to a 26-19 victory.
Ohio’s heavyweight won his match against A.J. Vizcarrondo in the third period after the Mountaineer was disqualified for stalling. Johnson was up 11-0 in the third when Vizcarrondo was disqualified after picking up his fifth stalling penalty of the match. The disqualification gave Ohio six team points to take a 23-6 lead.
“His strategy was to go out there and probably give up as few points as he could,” Johnson said. “I go out there with the mentality that I wrestle as hard as I can and be the best person I can be out there, and he didn’t want any part of it.”
Sparty Chino, 157, got everything going for Ohio in the first match of the dual with a 12-4 major decision. After the win, Chino circled the mat with his arms in the air to pump up the Convo’s crowd. Ohio’s fans and his teammates’ happily obliged.
Harrison Hightower, 165, kept the momentum-swing in the Bobcats’ favor with his 12th first-period pin of the season. It was his 13th fall of the year, which leads all 165-pounders in Division I.
Marshall Willet took Cody Walters normal spot at 174 for Ohio. Bubba Scheffel pinned Willet, but the Green and White still won six of the dual’s first seven matches. Garringer, 184, won a 9-5 decision and No. 9 Phil Wellington, 197, proved to be just as dominant as Ohio’s other standouts. Wellington’s muscles strained as hr showed off his strength, hurling Leo Trindade to the mats with two five-point doubles en route to a 17-3 major decision.
KeVon Powell, 125, scored Ohio’s final points of the day with a dramatic, last-second victory. Powell was down, 5-4, with just seconds left in the third period. The Bobcat 125-pounder, a fan of hardwood shoes, proved buzzer-beaters are not just for basketball when he scored a takedown as time expired to steal a victory.
With a 26-6 lead, Ohio had all the points it needed to ensure a victory.
“It was a great dual for us,” Ohio head coach Joel Greenlee said. “We got the kind of start that we needed today. I think that’s the thing we need to learn. It doesn’t matter who we are wrestling or where we are wrestling we have got to come out, impose our will on the other guy and be aggressive. I really thought we did a great job of doing that.”
The Bobcats dropped their final three matches but the losses would not lessen the team victory. Wrestling in his second-straight match at 133 for an injured Kagan Squire, Sebastian Arroyo lost by major decision to Nathan Pennesi.
With a win essentially guaranteed, Garness took Noah Forrider’s usual place at 141. He lost an 11-1 major decision to No. 16 Colin Johnston. Ohio's coach said he wanted to get Garness on the mat for Senior Day, and also rest his newly-ranked true freshman.
“Forrider has two wins versus [Johnston] already,” Greenlee said. “Ultimately our goal is to qualify for the national tournament … We think [those wins are] going to carry a lot of weight and we didn’t want to chance it.”
West Virginia won a buzzer-beater of its own in the final match of the dual at 149. Tied at 4-4, Mike Morales took the match against No. 16 Tywan Claxton with a questionable takedown call.
“He needs to quit thinking about winning and think about going out there and dominating,” Greenlee said. “[Morales] snuck a takedown in at the end. Was it two or wasn’t it two? I don’t know but I know we can’t wait around.”
With just a tri-meet left before the Mid-American Championships and the NCAA Tournament, Johnson is certainly still dominating as he stays hungry in his final days as a Bobcat.
“It’s pretty cool to finish strong in a dual meet setting but those aren’t my goals,” he said. “I want to be on top of the podium at the end of the year in Oklahoma City. I want to be a national champion and All-American. It’s cool and all, you can add it to my resume but I’m really looking forward to nationals.”
The same hunger showed in the Bobcats’ victory, and they will carry that on into the final weeks of the season.