Updated Sun, Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Ohio finished off its regular season with two victories on Sunday, but the day did not end on much of a high note. After handling Gardner-Webb in their first dual of the day, 38-6, the Bobcats' matchup with Cleveland State went down to the wire in a 20-19 victory.
“Our goal coming into today was to steamroll both teams a little bit and we didn’t get that done,” head coach Joel Greenlee said.
Against the Cleveland State, the ‘Cats held their biggest lead at 19-10. But by the last match the dual was tied up at 19. To break the tie Ohio was awarded a team point because it won six matches to Cleveland State’s four.
No. 9 Phil Wellington, 197, No. 10 Jeremy Johnson, 285, and KeVon Powell helped Ohio to a 10-4 lead. The Bobcats forfeited the 133 match and the dual was tied at 10.
True freshman Noah Forrider, 141, won what ended up being a crucial match in such a close dual, as he won a 5-3 decision that went down to a tiebreaker. Forrider and Jared McKinley went into the sudden victory period at 1-1. The freshman pulled out the win, earning a takedown, an escape and a mattchpoint when his opponent threw his headgear on the mat. The match had the crowd and both benches in an uproar as several calls by the referee resulted in reviews.
No. 15 Tywan Claxton, 149, and Sparty Chino, 157, followed up Forrider’s victory with 6-2 and 9-5 decisions, respectively, to give Ohio a 19-10 lead. That lead was cut to three when Matt Donohue picked up a defensive fall against Harry Hightower in the 165-pound bout. Marshall Willet, 174, followed that up with a loss to Nick Corba after he surrendered a takedown the final minute of his match.
“Our guy wrestled hard at ’74 and just lost the match,” Greenlee said. “Thankfully we won six matches and they won four and we still won the dual, but it wasn’t the dominating performance we were looking for.”
Greenlee said the team’s win should be a lesson that the Bobcats need to score bonus points. He highlighted 125, 149, 157, and heavyweight as places he saw opportunities for higher scores.
“If you let guys hang around a 1-0 match [or] a 1-1 match, somebody is going to find a way to win and it’s not always going to be you,” Greenlee said. “I’d say [you need to] go out there and impose your will. Try to beat a guy by eight, 10, 12, or 15 points and destroy ‘em.”
The Bobcats were able to do just that against the Runnin’ Bulldogs as they won every match they wrestled. Gardner-Webb’s only points came at 133, where the Bobcats’ forfeited due to lack of a healthy grappler. The ‘Cats did steamroll their opponent as they picked up bonus points in five matches. Wellington, Johnson and Chino accounted for 18 of those points with pins. Ryan Garringer, 184, won a 13-2 major decision and Claxton looked strong in a major decision of his own.
Claxton went 2-0 on the day along with Powell, Forrider, Chino, Wellington, and Johnson. Hightower picked up a win against the lone ranked wrestler Ohio faced. He beat No. 20 Austin Trott of Garnder-Webb in an 8-3 decision.
Johnson wrestled his last college matches in the Convocation Center. The five-year Bobcat finishes the regular season with a 33-3 record and a 17-0 record in dual meets.
“It was kind of crazy,” Johnson said about his last matches in the Convo. “I feel like yesterday I was sitting in the stands cheering on my team while I was redshirting. My last one is kind of bittersweet because I’m excited for MACs and nationals but it’s kind of sad that it’s over for the Convocation Center.”
As Johnson looks forward to tournament time, he and his teammates can learn from Sunday's performance. Bonus points will certainly be an emphasis in the transition to postseason competition. Against Gardner-Webb the Bobcats showed they are capable of scoring them, and against Cleveland State they experienced just how important bonus points can be.