During its three-dual winning streak, one of the biggest features of Ohio’s performances was its ability to pick up bonus points, which is what tends to separate top teams and individual performers from the pack.
Ohio (9-3) saw both ends of the bonus point spectrum Saturday.
The Bobcats racked up bonus points in their first dual, defeating South Dakota State 34-6 but then gave them away against No. 5 Northern Iowa, losing 25-15.
Ohio began its day with an explosive 18-0 lead on South Dakota State (3-4) in the day’s first dual at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa. In the heavyweight matchup No. 11 redshirt senior Jeremy Johnson broke things open with a second-period fall in the dual’s third match, his tenth pin of the season.
125-pound KeVon Powell immediately followed with a third period fall of his own, bringing Ohio’s lead to 18-0.
The Jackrabbits followed the 125-pound bout with one of their two wins of the dual, with the Bobcats claiming two major decisions throughout the rest of the competition to seal a blowout win and bring their winning streak to four.
“You’re really looking at Northern Iowa, with it being a (Mid-American Conference) match, but I thought our guys did a great job of staying focused and being ready to wrestle (South Dakota State),” Ohio coach Joel Greenlee said. “They’ve got some solid individuals, and we were able to win some close matches.”
It was as good a momentum builder as Ohio could have asked for going into its match against Northern Iowa (8-0). The Panthers began the dual with a tech fall by No. 5 Ryan Loder. Ohio responded well in the 184-pound bout before 197-pound Phil Wellington and Johnson each recorded winning decisions to give the Bobcats their only lead of the dual.
Northern Iowa used its stars in the 125- and 133-pound classes set the tone for the rest of the dual.
No. 6 Dylan Peters earned a first period fall against Ohio’s Powell in a 125-pound bout, giving an 11-6 lead to the Panthers. No. 1 Joe Colon followed with a tech fall against Ohio sophomore Kagan Squire in a 133-pound match.
The next match featured another top 20 wrestler for Northern Iowa, with whom Ohio freshman Noah Forrider forced overtime but ultimately fell to 8-6 in a sudden decision. That bout put Northern Iowa ahead 19-6 — a deficit Ohio would not respond from.
Ohio went on to pick up victories with 149-pound junior No. 14 Tywan Claxton, 157-pound redshirt sophomore Spartak Chino, and 174-pound redshirt sophomore Cody Walters. The Bobcats and Panthers claimed the same amount of individual victories, but the falls the Panthers were able to pick up made the difference.
“We’ve got to find a way to pick up more bonus points and give up less,” Greenlee said. “We told our guys that we’re right there. We’ve just got to keep plugging away and use these next four or five weeks to prepare for the MAC Tournament.”
With victories Saturday, Wellington and Johnson each remain undefeated in the conference.
Saturday was Ohio’s final road trip of the regular season. The Bobcats will return to action Friday at home against Clarion.