The Bobcats left one day earlier than they wanted at the three-day wrestling NCAA Championships.
A year after senior Germane Lindsey made it to the third day and the All-American podium with a sixth-place finish, Ohio was sent home when redshirt junior Nick Purdue, Ohio’s furthest-advancing wrestler, was eliminated on the second day of competition.
Purdue, senior Erik Schuth and redshirt freshman Jeremy Johnson represented Ohio March 17-19, during which a total of 104,260 fans viewed the proceedings, a record number of spectators for the national tournament.
Purdue and Johnson each went 1-2, and Schuth was 0-2. Lindsey would have joined his teammates in Philadelphia, but he failed to make weight at the Mid-American Conference Championships and was disqualified.
Although he was ahead for most of his match against Missouri’s Dorian Henderson, Purdue lost 7-6 and was eliminated from the 174-pound bracket after allowing two late takedowns.
“I was over-pursuing the guy a little bit,” Purdue said, “and I kept attacking and attacking and attacking him, and that kind of just opened (it) up for him.
“It was tough, but I was ready for it. I felt good going into the match, and it just didn’t go my way that time.”
Wrestlers new to the NCAA Championships are often rattled by the immense crowd, but coach Joel Greenlee said Johnson, who started at heavyweight for Ohio in his first year, was not bothered by it.
“I thought he handled it great,” Greenlee said. “He was a pigtail match, so he was one of the first 10 matches in the tournament. I thought he did a great job.”
SWIMMER, DIVER TAKE NCAA DIP
After winning the Mid-American Conference Championship in February, the Ohio swimming and diving team’s season did not come to an end.
Two Bobcats represented the team in the postseason, as Lindsay Hamilton competed at the NCAA Diving Pre-Quals and Rachel Heim swam at the NCAA Championships.
Heim finished 23rd during the preliminaries of the 100 fly at the NCAA Championships but was .16 seconds out of a spot in the finals.
“It was a nice performance,” coach Greg Werner said. “But at the NCAA Championships and to achieve the goals that she had, she needed to go a little bit faster. (There were) a lot of things to feel good about, but ultimately she just came up a little bit short of her ultimate goal.”
At the NCAA Pre-Quals meet in Columbus, Hamilton was unable to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
“The team did a great job,” Werner said. “For them to get that recognition is quite fitting for their efforts on a daily basis and their performance all season long.” — Paul Meara