No. 11 Ohio State Holds Off No. 16 Virginia Tech, 23-16

Updated: February 23, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio– Trailing No. 16 Virginia Tech, 16-14, with two matches remaining, the 11th-ranked Ohio State wrestling team received a momentum-changing win from senior 197-pounder Nick Heflin Sunday afternoon in St. John Arena. Heflin, a native of Massillon, Ohio, pinned the Hokies’ Brooks Morrison in 1:17 to lift the Buckeyes to a 20-16 lead. The Scarlet and Gray eventually won the match, 23-16, after redshirt-sophomore Nick Tavanello downed Ty Walz, 5-3, in the heavyweight bout.

The match vs. Virginia Tech was Senior Day. Buckeye seniors Alex GordonJoe Grandominico, Heflin, Ian PaddockJosh Whitt and team manager Cassandra Prezzia were recognized prior to the match.

Up next, Ohio State will compete in the 2014 Big Ten Championships at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., March 8-9.

In addition to the wins by the fourth-ranked Heflin and Tavanello, Ohio State received victories from redshirt-freshman and No. 8 Johnni DiJulius (125 pounds), redshirt-junior and No. 3 Logan Stieber (141 pounds) and sophomore and No. 13 Mark Martin (174 pounds) in the final regular-season match of the 2013-14 campaign.

With Ohio State trailing Virginia Tech, 3-0, following redshirt-freshman and 125-pounder Nick Roberts’ 10-3 loss to Joe Dance, the Buckeyes quickly recovered and took a 6-3 advantage after DiJulius pinned Dennis Gustafson in 4:18. DiJulius owned a 3-0 lead before he put Gustafson on his back in the second period. Stieber followed DiJulius’ pin with a bonus-point victory of his own, a 17-1 technical fall over Erik Spjut.

After dropping three consecutive matches from 149-165 pounds, the Buckeyes trailed the Hokies, 13-11. Kyle Viscontireceived the starting nod at 149 pounds in place of senior Ian Paddock and Visconti lost a 10-2 major decision to No. 16 Zach Neibert. In the 157-pound match-up, redshirt-junior Randy Languis suffered a 4-3 setback to Sal Mastriani. Languis recorded an early takedown in the first period against Mastriani, but the Hokie answered with an escape and takedown in the opening stanza for a 3-2 lead. Choosing bottom in the second period, Mastriani scored an escape for a 4-2 lead. Languis answered with an escape in the third period, but could not secure a takedown for a victory.

After senior and 165-pounder Joe Grandominico lost an 8-2 decision to Chris Moon, Martin propelled Ohio State into the lead with his 2-1 win vs. Austin Gabel in the 174-pound bout. After a scoreless first period, Gabel scored an escape for a 1-0 lead. In the low-scoring affair, Martin notched a takedown in the final period.

Starting at 184 pounds in place of redshirt-sophomore Kenny Courts, sophomore Josh Fox held strong against No. 17 Nick Vetterlein. Trailing, 3-2, in the third period, Fox gave up a takedown, but scored an escape to cut Vetterlein’s lead to 5-3. However, Fox was unable to record the match-winning takedown as time ticked off the clock.

It was with the Buckeyes trailing, 16-14, Heflin and Tavanello won back-to-back matches to help lift Ohio State to its 13th dual win of the season.