As the crowd filed out of Kent State University’s M.A.C. Center on Dec. 19 after watching The Ohio State University and the Flashes compete in wrestling, Logan Stieber was still on the mat.
The red-shirt junior took photos and chatted with friends and family.
“I have a lot of people who support me,” the Monroeville graduate said. “It means a lot. It was nice.”
But family and friends weren’t the only ones on the mat to see Stieber.
Youngsters, maybe some hopeful future wrestlers, also were in attendance to receive autographs.
“I looked up to a lot of guys when I was younger,’’ Stieber said. “I’m excited.’’
Stieber, ranked second in his weight class, had just completed the 2013 portion of his wrestling season with the Buckeyes.
And it was quite an interesting one for him.
He has wins (10 of them — all bonus-point victories).
But he also had a loss for the first time in nearly two years.
Stieber, a two-time Division I 133-pound national champion, bumped up to 141 this season.
“I usually wrestle taller, lanky guys,’’ he said. “There’s still time to get better every day.’’
OSU coach Tom Ryan said Stieber is a steady influence.
“He looked great in Vegas,’’ the eighth-year coach said. “Logan isn’t 100 percent. There are a couple of positions he’s tentative in.”
Stieber’s season started in early November.
He went against Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple in the 2013 NWCA All-Star Classic.
While Stieber brought in his 133 title, Maple entered the exhibition as the defending 141 national champion a season ago.
Stieber defeated Maple, 6-4, on a last-second reversal in the first tiebreaker.
“It was a great event,’’ Stieber said. “He’s real good. It was a great match.’’
Ryan said the event was good for the sport.
“It was an opportunity to bump up,’’ he said. “We thought it would be good for wrestling. It’s important for the stars to showcase themselves.’’
Stieber earned USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week honors.
Stieber continued on in the season.
He finished first at 141 in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational the weekend of Dec. 6 and 7 and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Stieber and OSU’s next test was Dec. 15 at Penn State.
The No. 9 Buckeyes were to face the top-ranked Nittany Lions in State College.
OSU lost 31-6.
Stieber also lost, as Zain Retherford captured a 4-2 sudden victory.
Stieber, ranked No. 1, lost his first collegiate match since Feb. 12, 2012 — a 7-3 setback vs. Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State in the NWCA /Cliff Keen National Duals.
Retherford entered the match ranked No. 8 in the country and 9-0.
Stieber owned a slim 2-1 lead entering the third period.
Retherford compiled more than one minute of riding time which effectively tied the score at 2-2 and eventually sent the match into overtime.
As the one-minute extra time came to a close, Retherford scored a takedown for the win.
“I was upset with how I wrestled,’’ Stieber said. “I wasn’t as good as I should have been, then you put it in the back of your mind.’’
Ryan said the loss stung, but can be used as a motivating tool.
“As disappointing as the loss was, it can inspire us,’’ he said. “Three days later he bounced back.’’
Stieber recorded a 10-0 major decision over Kent State’s Tyler Small (No. 17).
“It felt good,’’ Stieber said. “There are a lot of areas I need to work on to get better. It felt good to help the team win (27-6 over the Golden Flashes).
“It was good to get back on the mat,’’ he added. “It couldn’t come fast enough. He was a good opponent.’’
OSU is back in action at Wisconsin on Jan. 10.
The Buckeyes host the NWCA National Duals Feb. 16 and 17.
The Badgers will host the Big Ten Championships March 8 and 9.
The National Championships are scheduled for March 20 to 22 in Oklahoma City.
Stieber is looking at the big picture — another national championship.
“That’s my main goal,’’ he said. “I still have a lot of work to do.’’
Edinboro’s Mitchell Port is at 141. So is Retherford. So is Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes.
“Whoever is next,’’ Stieber said.
Ryan added, “As good as he is, the family he’s raised in is more impressive. He’s a special human being. The guy is motivated.”