[The following comes from Brandon Dodson, who contributes Ohio State wrestling thoughts and news with us from time to time. You can follow Brandon on Twitter at @recruitingbucks. If you would like to read more from Brandon, you can do so at his website Ohio State Wrestling News.]
As we say goodbye to the Seniors that helped shape this program, we cannot help but ask what could have been. Would Pletcher have won his rubber match with Lee? Would Kollin have won his first National title? How many All-Americans would we have had? We may have missed out on Nationals, but the outgoing Seniors are leaving behind a great culture and legacy for the younger Buckeyes to build upon. It has taken me nearly two months, but I am now starting to look towards next season. The lineup next season will look much different than this past season with multiple redshirt freshmen vying for a spot in the lineup and multiple transfers coming into the program.
Despite being confined to campus, Ohio State coaches have been active in the transfer portal. Garrett Hoffman, a redshirt Senior, will be transferring from Bucknell University. Hoffman graduated from Montoursville Area High School where he was a three-time state medalist, including a finalist as a senior in 2016. Hoffman finished his high school career with a 167-19 record, which was the most wins in school history. While at Bucknell, Hoffman was a national qualifier in the 2016-2017 season as a freshman after going 18-16 on the season. Hoffman went 0-2 at Nationals. In 2017-2018 Hoffman moved up to 197 pounds and started the season 10-6 before getting injured at the Virginia Duals. Hoffman missed the rest of the season and the entirety of the 2018-2019 season due to the injury. In the 2019-2020 season Hoffman moved up to heavy weight.
Tate Orndorff, a redshirt Junior, will be transferring from Utah Valley University. Orndorff graduated from University High School in Spokane Valley, Washington where he was a two-time Washington State Champion and graduated with a 142-15 record which included 103 pins. Orndorff redshirted for Utah Valley in the 2017-2018 season where he went 15-6 while wrestling unattached at heavy weight. In the 2018-2019 season, he went 26-9 (14-4 in duals) at heavyweight and was an NCAA qualifier where he went 2-2 as the 15 seed. In the 2019-2020 season, he went 18-4 and finished as the No. 11 ranked heavyweight in the country.
Ohio State will also have many redshirt freshmen vying for spots in the lineup. Dylan D’Emilio battled through injuries last season but managed to go 6-2 on the season. D’Emilio went to Genoa High School where he was a four-time Ohio high school state champion (D-III) with a 208-6 high school record. Carson Kharchla wrestled unattached at 165 and 174 pounds last season. He went 16-0 with titles at the Michigan State Open, Ohio Intercollegiate Open, Storm Open, and Purple Raider Open. Prior to Ohio State, Kharchla went to Olentangy Liberty High School where he was a back to back state champion (D-I) with a 101-4 high school record.
– In my opinion Ohio State has two viable options at 125 pounds for next season: Malik Heinselman and Dylan Koontz. Koontz went 12-9 last season and made two dual starts. He was crowned champion at both the Storm Open (133 lbs) and Edinboro Open (125 lbs), he was also Ohio State’s 133-pound representative in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational placing sixth. Heinselman went 18-15 last season. He finished the season strong with back to back top 20 victories at the Big Ten Championships. Heinselman has a lot of offense but needs to spend the offseason working on his strength and nutrition. I think this weight comes down to the wrestle off’s where Heinselman comes out on top.
– I have gone back and forth with my thoughts on this weight class but at the end of the day I believe Coach Ryan will go one of two ways. Decatur or D’Emilio. Decatur went 14-10 last season failing to qualify for Nationals. Decatur struggled adjusting to his new weight class last season but showed flashes of excellence. A full off-season could do wonders for Decatur’s consistency and confidence. As to D’Emilio, his ideal weight is 141 pounds, but he may need to drop down to 133 for a chance to crack the lineup. I think D’Emilio wins in the wrestle off and starts the season as the starter. A redshirt season would not be the end of the world for Decatur, but I would not be shocked if he ends up in the lineup at some point.
– Barring weight issues this may be the easiest weight to predict. Anthony Echemendia will be joining the team in May. I wrote an article about Echemendia earlier this year but here is a quick recap. He is from Cuba where he won a record 6 Cuban National Championships at the Cadet and Junior levels. In 2018, Echemendia defected from Cuba while at a training camp in Guatemala. In late 2018, he moved to the United States to live with his uncle who enrolled him into Sunnyside High School located in Tucson, Arizona. Prior to attending school in the United States, Echemendia did not wrestle folk style but won the Arizona State title in the 152-pound weight class with a 22-0 record. Afterwards, he traveled to the USMC Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota and won both Greco and freestyle in the 145-pound weight class. If Echemendia does not make 141 pounds, then that could shake up the entire lineup because he is too good to not be in the lineup immediately.
– Unless Echemendia struggles to make 141 pounds I only see one option here and that is Sammy Sasso. Sasso went 24-3 last season and was runner up at the Big Ten Championships. Sasso also earned the number 3 seed for Nationals prior to it being cancelled. If Echemendia struggles to make 141 pounds that could mean Echemendia moves up to the 149- or 157-pound weight class. This would leave the 141-pound weight class open for whoever does not fill the 133-weight class between D’Emilio/ Decatur or possibly another contender in Quinn Kinner.
– The 157-pound weight class was one of two weight classes that failed to qualify for Nationals. I believe this weight class will come down to Quinn Kinner and Elijah Cleary. Cleary went 18-12 last season and Kinner went 22-8 while wrestling matches at both 133 pounds and 157 pounds. Kinner had 6 pins in limited action which tied for the team lead. I believe Kinner will hit the weight room hard this offseason and take this weight class over. Kinner wrestles with a lot of energy and will always put the team first which is often rewarded.
– This is the point where predicting becomes very hard because there is going to be at least one great young man left out. I think this weight will come down to Carson Kharchla and Ethan Smith. Smith went 19-13 last season in a very tough weight class receiving the 12 seed for the National Tournament. Smith also received the “Black Shirt” last season which was rewarded to wrestlers who were leaders on and off the mat. I think Kharchla takes this weight class if he can make this weight.
– I think whoever does not get 165 pounds will compete for the 174-pound weight class. Romero is the returning starter at 174 pounds where he went 19-7 last season receiving the 6 seed for the National tournament. I believe if the battle is between Smith and Romero, Romero wins. If it is between Kharchla and Romero, I believe Kharchla wins. Kharchla is an elite wrestler and has to be in the lineup.
– If Romero does not win the 174-pound weight class I believe he will move up to compete for the 184-pound weight class. Rocky Jordan is the returning starter at 184 pounds. He went 29-9 last season with 3 wins over top 20 opponents after bumping up from 174 pounds mid season. Jordan secured the 14 seed for the National tournament. Jordan missed the entire 2018-2019 season due to injury and was unable to really train last offseason. I believe Jordan will make a major leap this coming season and ultimately win this weight class.
– This weight class could also go multiple ways, but I believe it is Chase Singletary’s weight if he agrees to make the cut down to 197 pounds. Singletary wrestles at 97kg or 213 pounds on the Senior level so it is unknown if he is willing/able to drop down from heavy weight. I believe Singletary at 197 pounds would make the best lineup but if he cannot or does not make the cut then it would go to Gavin Hoffman, Tyler Stein or maybe whoever does not fill the 184-pound weight class.
– This is another crowded weight for Ohio State. They have Chase Singletary if he chooses to remain at heavy weight, Gas Tank Gary Traub, Garrett Hoffman (transfer), Gavin Hoffman, and Tate Orndorff (transfer). If the lineup goes the way I think it will come down to Traub and Orndorff. Traub stepped into the lineup last season when Singletary was injured early in the season. Traub went 23-9 last season and received the 19 seed for the National Tournament. I think Orndorff wins this weight.
Ohio State looks very young and talented for next season, but Coach Ryan will have to make many tough decisions in regard to the lineup. No matter what happens, Tom Ryan has a room full of great young men that will succeed on an off the mat.