When Ohio began the year as the preseason Mid-American Conference favorite, it was expected that a few of its in-conference competitions might result in a blowout.
Its dual at home with Northern Illinois on Friday turned out to be one of those contests.
The Bobcats rolled to five consecutive wins to start the match, en route to a dominating 33-9 victory against the Huskies. The evening included a total of three falls in favor of Ohio, which moves to 5-1 on the season and 1-1 in the MAC.
“We won a lot of close matches, and that’s a big part of winning duals,” coach Joel Greenlee said. “We wrestled hard tonight. We went out there to impose our will on the other guy, and it was just a great match for us.”
Ohio made sure to set the tone early in the dual, as freshman Noah Forrider, No. 19 junior Tywan Claxton, and redshirt sophomore Spartak Chino began the dual with consecutive wins. Harrison Hightower took the intensity up a notch in the fourth match, pinning Shaun’Que McMurty in 2:25.
After Hightower’s fall, No. 7 redshirt sophomore Cody Walters entered the mat for the Bobcats to compete for the first time since November 16th. Walters defeated Matt Mougin with a 3-1 score to give the Bobcats an 18-0 lead in the dual.
The next Bobcat to record a fall in the contest was No. 11 redshirt senior Jeremy Johnson. Johnson battled Jared Torrence for 4:36 before pinning his opponent to secure his team-high 22nd win of the season. Kagan Squire finished the dual with a fall over Nick Smith in 1:37, ending the evening on a high note for the Bobcats.
Walters wasn’t the only one to put together a strong showing coming off of missed time. Claxton, Chino and Squire all skipped last week’s Southern Scuffle with injury, and came back with victories in Friday’s dual.
“Sometimes, coming back from a match like the Southern Scuffle, where we had guys get hurt and couldn’t wrestle, you’ll have guys a little iffy about their shape,” Greenlee said. “I thought our guys put that stuff a way tonight.”
Notably absent from the match was redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington, who was replaced by Beau Wenger in the 197-pound division. Wellington exited the second day of the Southern Scuffle last week with an injury, and it was determined that he hadn’t recovered enough to wrestle on Friday.
Ohio will continue its MAC play with a trip to Central Michigan next Friday.