The countdown for Ohio Wrestling has concluded, as the athletes are ready to hit the mats for another hard-fought season. Coming off a season where a pair of Ohio wrestlers competed in the NCAA Tournament, Ohio coach Joel Greenlee returns a hungry squad. The combination of youthful energy and veteran experience is a phenomenon that has not been seen for Ohio recently, as its overall program outlook hasn’t been this bright in years.
The Bobcats have one of their deepest rosters in years. There are 39 athletes on the roster, each of whom have an opportunity to compete in the Mid-American Conference. Two of the top returning wrestlers are Jordan Slivka and Sal Perrine. Slivka, a redshirt junior, and Perrine, a sophomore, both made it to the NCAA Tournament representing the Bobcats before eventually bowing out to top seeds in their respective brackets.
Nonetheless, the path to the NCAA Tournament is one that exists for not only Slivka and Perrine, but for numerous additional wrestlers. Giovanni DiSabato, competing in the 133-pound weight class, placed fourth at the MAC Championships last season, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. In addition, Oscar Sanchez placed sixth as a redshirt sophomore last season, with improvement expected in the 125-pound bracket.
Ohio might not have the prestige of some of the more traditional wrestling powerhouses, but under Greenlee, there has been consistent competitiveness. Greenlee is entering his 25th season as Ohio’s coach since being named the full-time head coach in 1998. His guiding hand has brought great success to Ohio, as well as multiple All-Americans and NCAA Tournament berths.
Last season, Ohio finished 9-4 overall and 5-3 in conference competition. The ability to not only compete against high-level opponents, but actually defeat them will become pivotal for Ohio.
Road victories over Northern Illinois and Kent State, two of the teams who scored higher than Ohio in the MAC Tournament, inspire confidence in the future. However, Ohio failed to impress in the MAC Tournament last season. It finished fourth in the conference but only placed ninth overall at the conference tournament.
The season that the Bobcats will embark upon is one that will challenge their resolve and ability to defeat some quality programs. Their schedule opens up on the road with a trio of invitationals hosted by teams that are receiving votes in the NWCA Coaches Poll. Between competing against Michigan State, Appalachian State and Navy, the ability to rise to the occasion and battle against gladiators that have high ambitions should rear its head.
Ohio will open MAC competition with individual meets against Edinboro and Gardner-Webb. The meet against Gardner-Webb will be Ohio’s first home meet this season. Road trips to West Virginia and the Virginia Duals will be Ohio’s last road meets before a month-long home stretch. The biggest test this season will be against Central Michigan, a program that went 7-0 in conference play last season and dominated Ohio in their head-to-head meeting. A trio of meets on the road will usher in the end of the regular season for Ohio before it returns to Virginia for the MAC Championships and a chance at redemption.
The 2022-23 season will be one where Ohio figures out if it is truly taking the steps forward as a program. Other opponents in the conference boast formidable lineups. The Ohio’s roster is deep, and the talent level is as high as ever. This season features the best opportunity for Ohio to return to the greatness of the past glory days of Greenlee’s program.