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Redshirt Sophmore, Robert Gaylord in weight class 165, against Deron Pulliam of SIUE (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville). Pullinam won the match 13-3 at the Convo, Ohio University, Feb. 17, 2024.

Wrestling: Ohio gets past SIUE, 22-17, to move to 5-0 at The Convo

Some nights it takes some different faces to pick up a win. For Ohio, that was the case as it needed every last point to defeat SIUE, 22-17. Without two of its top wrestlers, Garrett Thompson at 165 pounds and Zayne Lehman at 184 pounds, there was a need for some contributions to come from new sources. 

To start the night at the 125-pound class, Ryan Meek simply could not overcome Davian Guanajuato, dropping a 4-1 decision. Guanajuato defeated Meek by staying on top for the entire two minutes of the second period. This riding time advantage meant that Meek needed to get a takedown for the win, something that he was unable to do. Regardless, Meek wrestled hard against a higher-ranked wrestler, providing confidence for the freshman. 

Following Meek’s tight loss, Mason Brugh took the mat at the 133-pound class. His opponent was much tougher, No. 3 in the Mid-American Conference, Marcel Lopez. Brugh, like Meek, was in a scoreless bout after the first period and was on the bottom for the entire second period. All it took for Lopez to win was an escape and the riding time point gave Lopez a 2-0 decision win. Brugh’s result was not what he might have wanted, but against yet another higher-ranked opponent, both he and Meek fared well. 

In the third match of the night, Ohio’s wrestler again was an underdog. Aidan Waszak has suffered through a difficult season, winning just a pair of matches. Going against No. 2 Eric Almarinez, it would be tough for him to win unless he was perfect. Unfortunately for Waszak, that was not the case. At times, it seemed possible that Waszak could pull a rabbit out of a hat, but Almarinez was too strong, picking up the 13-4 major decision. The score does not illustrate the fact that this match was close going into the final minutes of the bout. 

Ohio wrestler, Peyten Kellar (Redshirt Sophmore), celebrates his victory against SIUE wrestler, Caine Tyrus, at the Convo, Ohio University, Feb. 17, 2024.

One thing that has been evident for Ohio this season has been the struggles for the lightweight classes. Despite the tough results, Coach Joel Greenlee was impressed with the vigor and heart that Meek, Brugh and Waszak wrestled with against SIUE. 

“That has been a focus for us the last few weeks,” Greenlee said. “We have to do a better job and I think (the lightweights) did a better job.”

In wrestling, there are no feel-good victories. The scoreboard still had Ohio down 10-0. At the 149-pound class, Derek Raike, tabbed as the No. 33 wrestler in the country according to the recent NCAA Coaches Poll, faced Caleb Tyus, No. 22 nationally, in the only ranked match of the night. 

Raike and Tyus were engaged in a back-and-forth match with Raike holding a 4-2 lead going into the final period. A takedown by Tyus and subsequent escape by Raike sent the match to sudden victory. Despite his best efforts, Raike was ousted by Tyus, who got a takedown to win, 8-5. 

With his family in attendance, it seemed like beating Peyten Kellar, the No. 15 wrestler in the country in the 157-pound class, was an already difficult task that became even harder. Facing Caine Tyus, Kellar did not waste time getting a takedown less than a minute into the match before ending the first period on top of Tyus. To start the second period, Kellar was on the bottom, but pulled a reverse and punctuated it with a pin of Tyus, giving Ohio its first points of the night. 

Greenlee decided that Saturday night was a chance for him to rest Thompson and allow sophomore Jack Lledo to wrestle against Bradley Gillum. Lledo had yet to win in a dual. That changed against Gillum, the No. 13 wrestler in the MAC. In a match that started slowly, the two took the bout to sudden victory tied at one point apiece. Shortly into the extra period, Lledo grabbed Gillum by his leg, lifted him and dropped him on the mat to pick up the win. 

“It was great to get a little confidence boost, get that win under my belt,” Lledo said. “I was glad to make my debut, but the confidence boost really helped and fired the guys up.” 

Even though he does not regularly get to show his skills, Lledo thinks it is all part of the process and learning behind Thompson can be part of that. 

“(I’m) not always focusing on getting out there and wrestling as much as just improving personally,” Lledo said. 

His coach spoke volumes about Lledo and the work he has put in and the impact of the win. 

"Jack (Lledo) coming out and wrestling and getting a win… Jack gave us a little bit of a spark,” Greenlee said. 

Following Lledo’s energizing win, Sal Perrine, No. 26 in the country, kept the wins coming for Ohio as it tried to close the gap. Facing Dominic Lopez, No. 11 in the MAC, Perrine used some finesse and skill to power through a 7-3 decision. 

Another stalwart for Ohio, team co-captain Zayne Lehman, was also given a night off. The No. 24 wrestler in the nation was relieved by Robert Gaylord, who usually wrestled at the 165-pound class, but moved up two classes to wrestle at the 184-pound class. Gaylord, however, did not get the same rousing victory as Lledo, dropping a major decision to Deron Pulliam, 13-3. Although he put up a good fight, Gaylord was unable to overcome the strength difference between him and his opponent, leading to the loss. This result put the score at 17-12 in favor of SIUE. 

Austin Starr was not given the chance to wrestle as SIUE forfeited the bout, giving Ohio a free six points and the first lead of the day for the home team, 18-17. 

Finally, Jordan Greer, No. 5 in the MAC, faced off against Dan McKiernan, an unranked wrestler making his first appearance in a dual this season. Greer dominated en route to an 11-1 major decision victory that gave Ohio the 22-17 win. 


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