Ohio State University red-shirt sophomore Logan Stieber claimed his second straight NCAA Div. I title at the national championships held at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa March 21-23.
Stieber defeated Iowa’s Tony Ramos, 7-4, to make it two titles in a row at 133 pounds for the Buckeye.
The win over Ramos gave Stieber a 5-0 career mark against the Iowa rival. In their previous meeting this season, Stieber narrowly defeated Ramos, 3-1sv, in the Big Ten championship final March 10.
“It’s hard. It’s tough. It’s crazy. Every match is different. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Stieber of his series with Ramos.
The victory was not without its anxious moments. A second period scramble that was reviewed by officials was looked at for back points, but none were awarded after a long time-out to Iowa’s Ramos.
“We both were moving and he caught me. My left hand was reaching up. He got in a deep shot, and I fought him off, but he got up on it right away. It really hurt too much. I did like a dive through and I almost had it. I got my ankle locked. If I wouldn’t have had it locked, I would have been able to kick it off, but he locked it with the cradle. As soon as he got that locked, I knew Iwas in trouble if I tried to bail out,” said Stieber of the close call.
“I knew I was close to near fall, but I didn’t think it was. They looked at it for like ten minutes, but that pretty much confirms it wasn’t.”
Stieber downplayed any post-match controversy. “I think if you watch the match, they have video review now. I don’t really think the match was that close to controversial if you looked at the video review for five minutes,” he said. “Basically, three or four refs were looking at it. If they wouldn’t have had video review, I would have said it’s a little bit closer to controversial, but they saw it wasn’t that close.”
Logan had already built a lead, thanks to a takedown for a 2-0 advantage at the 1:40 mark in the first period and appeared to begin accruing significant riding time before Ramos answered with an escape near the 1:15 point. With 48 seconds remaining in the period, Stieber scored a takedown to take a 4-1 lead into the second period.
Stieber said the early momentum was important to his success. “You know, I have a lot of faith in my offense and a lot of people sometimes think that I’m not very good on my feet,” said Stieber. “This year I know I’ve had a lot of takedowns. Big 10 had three matches with takedowns. My takedowns have been pretty good all year, so it’s me just getting a nice lead.”
Stieber is now half way to becoming a four-time NCAA champ. Quite an accomplishment for a kid out of Monroeville, Ohio – a town with two traffic lights. Does he think much about going for the ultimate, four straight at the NCAA level? “You know, it creeps in your mind. I think it creeps in everyone’s mind when they win it, it’s a possibility. But something that I always tell my brother and always tell myself, I couldn’t win this National Championship on Thursday. I couldn’t win on Friday. I had to win tonight. So I’ll worry about four after I got three,” he said.
Now it is off to the U.S. Open in Las Vegas. “I’ll be training soon. I think I’ll take probably off tomorrow, and maybe Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Probably drill Thursday and Friday,” said Stieber. “We don’t have much time. Basically have to get weight. I have 2 and a half weeks of hard training and then get into it, but really I’ve been training hard all year. So it’s not going to make that big of a difference.”
He said tough matches like the Saturday win over Ramos prepare him well. And now he will be a Freestyle Senior. How much does wrestling with these bigger guys help? “It helps me a lot because I feel comfortable with tough matches. I feel comfortable with close matches or if I tie,” said Stieber. “If I’m losing, I can get the takedown, and I’ve lost a lot of close matches, so I know how it feels on both ends. I think I’ve learned a lot wrestling them.”
Beating Tony Ramos before an Iowa crowd made for some challenging moments from the fans in Des Moines. “I like it. I’d rather have 10,000 people cheering against me like here than having 500 people in the stands,” said Stieber. “It’s fun. It’s a great atmosphere. Iowa fans are yelling at me, yelling things at me, so it’s fun. I know it’s just a sport, but it’s a lot of fun.
“As much as I think they hate me on the mat, I think — I hope they like the way I wrestle. I’m not punky at all. I’m not dirty. I just try to have fun. I think at the end of the day I want them to at least to respect me. When I’m wrestling their guy and they hate me, that’s fine.”
For Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan, it is that fiery competitiveness tempered by strength of character that stands out in his two-time NCAA champ. “We are so blessed this small-town kid from Ohio chose to be a Buckeye,” said Ryan. “He exemplifies the very best version of what we can accomplish when we dream big and fight consistently to be the best. We are so proud of him.”
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