Ohio might not know who exactly it will see when it heads up to East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday, but it doesn’t need to know, because many wrestlers are planning for a busy day regardless.
The Bobcats, which are the preseason Mid-American Conference favorites, will see their first action of the season when they start the Michigan State Open at Jenison Field House. The tournament will begin with double-elimination play at 9 a.m., and the finals will start at approximately 6 p.m.
“I’m just excited to see us go and wrestle somebody else,” coach Joel Greenlee said. “Our guys have wrestled against each other so much, and they’ve been working hard all summer. In the past it’s been a very competitive tournament, and I’m excited to see our guys compete.”
One wrestler who everyone will be sure to keep their eyes on is redshirt sophomore Cody Walters, who is coming off an All-American season last year. Walters said he has his hopes set on a national title this season.
“I’m happy to get back out there and show all the work I’ve been doing,” Walters said. “I gained a lot of confidence last year. I did a lot of things I didn’t know I could do right away. It’s a new year, so I’ve got new dreams, and I want to make a big mark right away.”
Walters won the 174-pound weight class during last year’s tournament after defeating Kent State’s Sam Wheeler in the championship round. Fellow redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington also won his weight class at 197 pounds.
Top-ranked heavyweight Jeremy Johnson has also seen success in the tournament before and will be looking for more on Saturday. He won the tournament in 2011 before coming up short last year, losing his finals match in overtime. Both finals matches came against Michigan State’s Michael McClure, who will return this season as a senior.
Johnson, a redshirt senior, echoed Walters’ thoughts on wanting to show off his hard work from the offseason as well as his desire to win a national championship.
“I’m trying to improve every week. I’m definitely experienced and know the highs and lows of the season, so I know I have to stay focused,” Johnson said. “Being a leader, I hope the guys look off of me. I’m going for a national championship, so I’m hoping they’re all with me. Hopefully, we can accomplish more than just one.”
Saturday will be a good chance to see if the team can live up to the high expectations surrounding it for the new season.