Ohio wrapped up the 2013 calendar year on Sunday with its longest road trip of the season, a cross-country trek to Reno, Nev. for the annual Tournament of Champions.
The Bobcats maintained momentum from what has been a solid first half of the season, finishing the tournament with a fourth place overall finish.
"I think we improved a little bit, but I thought we left some matches out there too," coach Joel Greenlee said. "If you'd have asked me before the tournament, I would have expected four or five guys to place. We were close, but we had a couple of guys get hurt, which kept them out of placing."
Guiding the Bobcats to a strong finish were 197-pound redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington and 285-pound redshirt senior Jeremy Johnson, who each placed first in their respective weight classes.
No. 11 Johnson won all five of his matches, improving his overall record to 17-2 on the season. He clinched his first tournament win this season with a 5-3 decision over No. 18 Amar Dehsi of Oregon State.
No. 13 Wellington also went undefeated in five contests, finishing with a 9-1 decision over Oklahoma State’s Austin Schaffer. The championship is Wellington’s third this year and he now owns a 17-1 record.
“(Johnson and Wellington) did what they do every time,” Greenlee said. “I thought it was a good experience for Phil in particular, when he went out in one match and got pinned down early and had to come from behind to win. They were both pretty dominant the whole day.”
The Bobcats had one other top-five finisher, with 141-pound freshman Noah Forrider claiming fifth place. Forrider brought his overall record to 14-8, earning a 4-3 decision in his final match to secure his first top-five of the season.
The day did not pass without some tough luck being tossed in Ohio’s direction, as it saw a pair of top-20 wrestlers default with injuries early. No. 17 junior Tywan Claxton and No. 19 redshirt sophomore Spartak Chino each suffered minor injuries after finding success early in the day. Neither is expected to miss the next tournament.
Also remaining on the sidelines is No. 7 Cody Walters, a 174-pound redshirt sophomore, who has not wrestled in competition since November 16th. He continues to be evaluated on a week-to-week basis, and the date of his return is still not set in stone.
“Before you go and wrestle four or five matches in a day, you want to make sure your guys are in good shape,” Greenlee said. “It’s still more precautionary than anything.”
Ohio will return to action with the two-day Southern Scuffle on January next week.