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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio wrestling team will begin the 2018-19 this weekend at the Michigan State Open, which will be held Saturday (Nov. 3) at Jenison Fieldhouse in East Lansing, Mich.
The Michigan State Open features both an open division for college and post-college wrestlers and a freshman and sophomore division. The preliminary rounds will get underway at 9:30 a.m., with semifinals start at approximately 3 p.m. and the finals beginning at 5 p.m. The tournament will be a double elimination event. No team scores will be kept.
Joel Greenlee is in his 22nd season as the head coach at Ohio, and his squad was picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference this year in the coaches' preseason poll, which was released by the league office on Wednesday (Oct. 31).
"The goals don't change a whole lot every year. We're trying to win a MAC regular season championship and trying to win a MAC tournament championship," said Greenlee. As far as individual goals, I think guys are setting goals to get 20 wins, to qualify for the national tournament, to be a MAC champion, and it all starts this weekend. Really, wins are king when trying to get to the national tournament. You can't go to this tournament and lose to a guy you're not supposed to and not have that kind of bite you in the tail later in the year. You need to go in there and be focused and be ready to go. I think we've trained hard. I think our guys are in good shape. We should be in a position to knock some guys off that maybe aren't where we're at training-wise."
Greenlee has several points of emphasis he wants his team to focus on heading into the season's opening weekend.
"I want to see guys go out there and be aggressive and score takedowns and have fun," said Greenlee. "I want them to really hang their hats on fighting hard and focusing. That's really the thing I want them to go out there and do. Fight hard for seven minutes. If you fight hard for seven minutes, good things happen. You focus on the task at hand and not all the surrounding things. I'm excited. I think we have a good, young team with good, young talent. We've been wrestling against each other since, really, the end of last season, and I want to see wrestle against other guys and see where we're at."
The following is a breakdown of Ohio's projected lineup at each weight class and Greenlee's thoughts on the wrestler.
125: R-Jr. Shakur Laney (Canal Winchester, Ohio)
MAC Preseason Ranking: 2nd
InterMat Ranking: 13th
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Shakur Laney, getting back down to 125, unbelievable job. I think halfway through the summer he was working hard but his weight wasn't anywhere close to what he should be doing with it. We sat down and had a talk, and now his weight is spot on. He's working hard, he's training hard, he's doing all the right things. Shakur is a guy that I think should be on the podium at the national tournament at the end of the year. Ninety percent of his game is bullying guys. He's big and strong, and he goes out there and he just kind of forces it down their throat. That's what he's good at. Now, on top of that, he's got pretty good technique. He's got good conditioning and all that stuff, so that's even more impressive."
133: R-So. Mario Guillen (Perrysburg, Ohio)
MAC Preseason Ranking: 2nd
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Mario did an unbelievable job last year. He moved up to 141 and was, really, seconds away from qualifying for the national tournament at 141. Now, he's at his best weight. Man, he's tough. It's going to be an opportunity for him to shine. We're excited about that. I expect big things out of him."
141: R-Fr. Moises Guillen (Perrysburg, Ohio)
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Moises, I think, is as talented as anybody. He's coming in, he's doing the right things. He's finally got his weight under control. Both Mario and Moises, I'd say probably a little bit of their kryptonite in their first couples years here was their weight and how they did it. They're both doing a great job with it right now, Mario at 33 and Moises at 41."
149: R-Fr. Alec Hagan (Eureka, Mo.)
MAC Preseason Ranking: 3rd
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Hagan started out 17-3 or 17-4 last year before he got hurt. He was ranked in the country. I would really expect the same thing out of him. That's going to be dogfight between him and (redshirt junior) Kade Kowalski. Kade was second in the MAC last year. That was a dogfight of a tryout match. That one is not over yet, I'm sure. Some of it is going to come down to competition, who places, things like that. It's a great situation for us. We have two great guys we can throw out there. If something happens, we can move a guy up a weight, all those things. I really think both of those guys are capable of qualifying for the national tournament."
157: R-Jr. Zac Carson (Akron, Ohio)
MAC Preseason Ranking: 2nd
InterMat Ranking: 20th
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Zac Carson wrestled at 65 at Eastern Michigan last year, transferred here. We thought it was best for our lineup if he went down to 57. He was more than happy to do it. I think he's also a guy that can challenge to get on the podium at the national tournament. I can't say enough good things about him work-ethic wise, academically what he brings to the team, being a leader, all those things. I expect big things out of him as well. He's an unbelievable pleasant surprise as far as getting a transfer like that."
165: Fr. Colt Yinger (Nelsonville, Ohio)
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Man, oh man. Colt is a talented freshman. From day one, he wanted to come in and wrestle. He's going to get that opportunity. He goes with the best guys in our room every day. I think it's really frustrating to him to not just beat up on everybody. He's wrestling a lot better guys than he did in high school. He's going to do well. I've seen him get better by leaps and bounds just in the last month. I think by the end of the year he's going to be where he needs to be."
174: R-So. Joe Terry (Pickerington, Ohio)
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Joe has got all the physical attributes that you need to be successful. Now, he just has to put them all together. Joe's biggest demon is Joe. I think he can be good. I think he's come a long way. He's had a great summer. In the two years that he's been here, he is leaps and bounds better, but he still has to continue to work on, really, the mental aspect of the sport. I know he's doing it, and I think he's going to be fine. I expect big things out of him as well."
184: Jr. Hunter Yeargan (Willard, Mo.)
MAC Preseason Ranking: T-4th
Greenlee's Thoughts: "Hunter's not going to wrestle anyone stronger than him, I'll tell you that. He had a good summer. He was here all summer. He's been doing well. His weight is fine. I think he's gotten better. He's a little bit unconventional in what he does, and that makes him really hard to wrestle. He's gotten better at what he does. I think about the last two years that he's wrestled for us, and I don't think there's ever been a match that he was out of. Now, if he turns those one or two points matches around, he's going to be a top-15 guy in the country. He's more than capable of getting to the national tournament."
197: So. Aaron Naples (Brunswick, Ohio)
MAC Preseason Ranking: 4th
Greenlee's Thoughts: "For Naples, there's a lot of positives to draw on. The guy who is ranked number one in the country right now, Naples beat twice last year. Those were two big wins, and they weren't necessarily that close of matches. He stayed here all summer, trained hard. Top is his best position. He cleaned up some things in the neutral position and has gotten lightyears better. He went out and wrestled as a true freshman. Sometimes you get beat up a little bit. He didn't have the opportunity to redshirt just because we needed him at the weight. I think it's a whole new ballgame for him as far as his confidence level and his technique level and his game plan. He's doing well."
Heavyweight: R-Sr. Zack Parker (Felton, Del.)
MAC Preseason Ranking: 3rd
Greenlee's Preseason Ranking: "Zach Parker has had a great career. He has put on about 25 pounds of muscle. His biggest problem was that he worked hard and did everything, but it was just kind of slow and steady pace. Now, he's explosive at the beginning, explosive at the end. He lifts hard, he wrestles hard, he does everything right. He qualified for the nationals two years ago. We expect big things out of him this year. I think he's another guy that can challenge to be on the podium at the end of the year.
The second weekend of the 2018-19 campaign will take Ohio to Buies Creek, N.C., for a dual meet against Campbell next Saturday (Nov. 10). Action will get underway at 1 p.m.