With a 53% majority from the NCAA Wrestling Twitter poll, Joey McKenna of Ohio State University been named NCAA Wrestler of the Week. The 141-pound junior rightly claimed this award after handing No. 2 Kevin Jack of North Carolina State his second loss of the season.
On Sunday, the Buckeyes looked to complete regular season action with a win over the a very competitive sixth-ranked Wolfpack. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the opening period in each of the day's first three bouts, Ohio State went ahead 2-0. The scarlet and gray wrestlers fought aggressively throughout their entire periods, with the mentality continuing into McKenna’s dual.
While Jack was the crowd-favorite, McKenna’s presence and intensity on the floor made it impossible to tell. In the previous bouts, takedowns came late in the first period for Ohio State. McKenna, however, showed no patience. He secured his almost immediately, and even managed to pair it with another takedown to close the first period ahead, 4-1. McKenna’s momentum, unbearable for No. 2 Kevin Jack, lasted throughout the match. McKenna ended with the 6-2 decision.
College wrestling rankings: Unbeaten Penn State finishes regular season at No. 1
A recent transfer, McKenna spent his first two collegiate seasons competing for Stanford University. His unparalleled athleticism didn’t go unnoticed as he compiled an impressive overall record of 58-6 (21-1 dual record) and crowned Pac-12’s 141-pound champion in both seasons. Fifteen of his victories came over nationally-ranked opponents. McKenna also placed third in the 2016 NCAA Championships.
To many, these accomplishments were not a surprise. Before his collegiate years, McKenna was a two-time U.S. Junior World Team member (freestyle) and achieved a silver medal in 2014. At Blair Academy (NJ), he helped push his team to three consecutive national titles (2012-14).
The victory on Sunday improved McKenna’s record to an intimidating 12-1 overall and 3-1 against top-15 opponents. Ohio State ends the 2017-2018 regular season at an overall record of 14-1. The Big Ten Championships are next, held on March 3-4 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.