In a highly anticipated match between two top-ranked teams, the North Carolina State Wolfpack will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes, but this time N.C. State will hope for a better performance than the 29-6 loss the team suffered last year. All but three of the Wolfpack starters hold Top 25 rankings with five of the ranked wrestlers in the top 10. Ohio State has seven probable ranked starters, the same as N.C. State, and they also have the only No. 1 ranked wrestler in the dual, 184-pounder Myles Martin.
The dual will be live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. on Sunday, and these are the three matchups between the No. 2 Buckeyes and the No. 9 Wolfpack that you won’t want to miss.
133: No. 7 Redshirt Sophomore Tariq Wilson (11-1) vs. 133: No. 5 Junior Luke Pletcher (13-1)
N.C. State’s Tariq Wilson, whose surprising run to third place at last year’s NCAA championship drew widespread attention, holds an 11-1 record, with his only loss coming to Paul Konrath of Indiana at the end of 2018. His dual against Ohio State’s No. 5 Luke Pletcher will be a rematch of the 2018 NCAA tournament third-place match where Wilson earned a major decision, 17-8, against his Buckeye opponent. Pletcher’s loss in the match moved him to fourth in the tournament, an All-American performance.
The two ranked wrestlers also faced off last February in the 2018 N.C. State vs. Ohio State dual, and in that contest, Pletcher earned the win 7-3. Both athletes will enter this year’s match with one loss, Pletcher’s coming from Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi in the semifinals of the Cliff Keen Invitational and Wilson’s coming from Konrath last week. A win for either athlete tonight will bring confidence, a higher ranking and a stronger record heading into the second half of the season.
149: No. 4 Graduate Student Justin Oliver (10-0) vs. 149: No. 3 Redshirt Senior Micah Jordan (12-1)
In his first season as a member of the Wolfpack, graduate transfer Justin Oliver has posted an undefeated record and earned a fourth-place Intermat ranking heading into 2019. He’ll face his biggest test so far this year against No. 3 Micah Jordan, a consistent scorer for the Buckeyes and a two-time All-American. A win over Jordan would bring him valuable momentum heading into conference duals, but such a win will not come easily.
Jordan, who holds an 12-1 record, suffered his only loss of the season to No. 2 Anthony Ashnault of Princeton at the Cliff Keen finals. But prior to that loss, the Ohio State redshirt senior beat No. 13 Brock Mauller and No. 5 Austin O'Connor in the same tournament. Look for this match to be a tightly-contested battle between two top-ranked wrestlers that could end up facing each other again in the NCAA tournament.
184: No. 3 Redshirt Sophomore Nick Reenan (10-0) vs. 184: No. 1 Senior Myles Martin (7-0)
Redshirt sophomore Nick Reenan and senior Myles Martin both come into this match undefeated, but with more experience and an NCAA title to his name Martin will have a leg up with the contest. The Ohio State senior recently won the Cliff Keen Invitational for the second year in a row and will be looking to advance to his third Big Ten final later this season.
Reenan, who redshirted last year after qualifying for the NCAA tournament as a true freshman, is 3-0 against ranked opponents this year including wins against athletes ranked in the top six. Martin will be his biggest challenge this season, but the experience of wrestling the top-ranked competitor in the weight class will help Reenan in his preparation for the ACC, and ultimately the NCAA tournament.