Through the first two weekends of competition, Ohio has been able to live up to the lofty preseason expectations placed on the team from coaches throughout the Mid-American Conference.
After a successful season-opening tournament at Michigan State and a sweep of three teams in dual matches last weekend, the Bobcats will get their newest challenge when they makes the trip to Annapolis, Md., on Saturday to compete in the Navy Classic, where Ohio placed fourth last season.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” coach Joel Greenlee said. “There’s going to be some good teams there, and it’ll be interesting to see where we’re at at this point in the season.”
The Bobcats will be one of 12 teams competing in the tournament. Along with Navy, others include Tennessee-Chattanooga, Kent State, George Mason and Wisconsin.
Several Ohio wrestlers began the year with strong starts that they will hope to carry into Saturday.
Redshirt junior Harrison Hightower has begun the year with an impressive 8-1 record in the 165-pound division, while redshirt senior Jeremy Johnson has started the year off at 7-1 as a heavyweight wrestler.
Every Bobcat will be ready for a challenge when it comes to their military counterparts. Navy’s roster includes almost 100 athletes, each of whom get taken very seriously for their toughness.
“They’re gritty, and in your face,” Greenlee said. “You know you’re gonna be in a battle when you wrestle them. I expect to see the same out of our guys. If you win, you earn it. If you lose, you make the other guy earn it.”
Greenlee also said that there were several wrestlers that were day-to-day decisions on whether or not they would wrestle Saturday, and that determination would be made when the team leaves on Friday night.
Although he didn’t name anyone specifically, a couple of names who could be in that group are redshirt sophomores Cody Walters and Spartak Chino. Walters sat out the first tournament of the season before recording a 2-0 record last weekend. Chino forwent his third match last weekend after getting banged up in a loss in his second match.
Walters led the Bobcats in last season’s Navy Classic, finishing the day a perfect 4-0 and winning the title in the 174-pound division. Johnson finished as a runner-up.
The Navy Classic is a double elimination-style tournament and will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, while the finals will take place at approximately 6:00 p.m.