Logan Stieber insisted that revenge wasn’t his goal entering the Big Ten wrestling championships, but it became an added part of how his tournament ended.
His Ohio State teammate, Nick Heflin, wanted to win simply because it was his final chance for a Big Ten title.
The senior accomplished his goal, too, and in dramatic fashion.
Stieber, a fourth-year junior and two-time national champion, won his third consecutive Big Ten title yesterday in Madison, Wis., with a 7-3 decision victory over Penn State freshman Zain Retherford in the 141-pound division.
The title win served as payback for No. 2-seeded Stieber, who suffered his only loss of the season to top-seeded Retherford on Dec.?15.
“He was dominant,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said. “He had a great game plan. He was prepared. I felt great going into the match because I knew the work he had put in. A lot of these matches are won before they shake hands (to start a match).”
That 4-2 sudden victory by Retherford in a dual meet at Penn State snapped a 45-match winning streak for Stieber dating to Feb.?12, 2012.
Heflin, the No. 2 seed at 197 pounds, secured his first Big Ten title with a late takedown of top-seeded Morgan McIntosh for a 5-3 sudden victory over the Penn State sophomore.
Heflin (24-1) moved up in weight this season after earning his second All-America honor last year at 174 pounds. Last year, he lost in the final at the Big Ten tournament.
“I’m so happy for him,” Ryan said. “I told him that this was five years of work for that championship since he came to Ohio State. It was awesome.”
Stieber and Heflin were the only two wrestlers to advance to the finals for Ohio State, which finished in fourth place as a team with 86.5 points. The 11th-ranked Buckeyes were the tournament’s sixth seed as one of nine Big Ten teams ranked in the nation’s top 20, including the top three.
“This is a brutal event,” Ryan said. “We leave with two champions and eight, maybe nine, qualifiers for the NCAA tournament (the exact number will be known on Wednesday). Only us, Nebraska and Penn State had two champions.”
Penn State won its fourth consecutive team championship — that hadn’t occurred since Iowa won 25 consecutive league titles from 1974 through 1998 — with a score of 140.5 points. Iowa placed second with 134, and Minnesota was third at 114.5.
Stieber (25-1) controlled the rematch against Retherford despite wrestling with a broken thumb suffered last week.
It was Retherford’s first loss after beginning his college career with 28 straight wins.
Stieber’s previous two Big Ten championships and his national titles came at 133 pounds.
By Todd Jones
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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