In a showdown that highlighted two of the best wrestlers in the country, Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez emerged triumphant over Penn State’s Beau Bartlett to claim the prestigious Big Ten Championship in the 141-pound weight class. Mendez, entering the conference tournament ranked second, faced a formidable opponent in Bartlett, who held the top spot. However, Mendez’s relentless determination and skill proved insurmountable as he avenged an earlier defeat to Bartlett, clinching the title in a thrilling rematch.

Mendez, a sophomore at Ohio State, showcased his exceptional talent throughout the season, amassing an impressive record of 25-2. Having only lost twice on the season, including to Bartlett in overtime earlier in the season, Mendez remained resolute in his pursuit of excellence. The Big Ten Championship served as a stage for redemption, with Mendez seizing the opportunity to showcase his growth and tenacity on the mat.

The clash between Mendez and Bartlett was eagerly anticipated, with wrestling enthusiasts anticipating a showdown of epic proportions. After both wrestled to a scoreless first frame, Mendez started the second down, earning the first point of the match with an escape. Bartlett returned the favor in the third with an escape point of his own. It looked like we might be heading for another sudeen death overtime match between the conferences best at 141-pounds when Mendez hit an impressive takedown with only 15 second left in the match to win the championship. The loss was Bartlett’s first of the season.

With his triumph at the Big Ten Championship, Mendez not only secured the conference title but also earned an automatic qualification for the NCAA Championships. Set to take place at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri, from March 21st to 23rd, the NCAA Championships represent the pinnacle of collegiate wrestling. Mendez’s remarkable journey to the top of the podium serves as a testament to his dedication and perseverance, underscoring his status as one of the sport’s most promising talents.

Immediatly following the victory, Mendez was interviewed on television by Big Ten Network’s Hannah Mears.

“This is the reason why I wrestle. I want big matches like this. I want to win Big Ten titles. But, this means nothing to me unless I get that National Ttitle. So that’s what’s up next.”

Big Ten Champion Jess Mendez

Mendez’s victory was a highlight for Ohio State, but he was not alone in securing a spot at the NCAA Championships. Joining him are several of his Buckeye teammates who demonstrated their prowess on the mat throughout the season. Dylan D’Emilio at 149-lbs., Rocco Welsh at 174-lbs., Ryder Rogotzke at 184-lbs., Luke Geog at 197-lbs., and Nick Feldman, known affectionately as the “Feldmonster,” at 285-lbs., all earned automatic qualifications for the national tournament.

In a testament to the depth and talent of Ohio State’s wrestling program, two more Buckeyes received at-large selections from the NCAA wrestling committee to compete at the NCAA Championships. Brendan McCrone at 125-lbs. and Nic Bouzakis at 133-lbs. will join their teammates in vying for national glory, bringing Ohio State’s total representation at the championships to eight wrestlers.

The achievements of Mendez and his fellow Buckeyes underscore the strength and resilience of Ohio State’s wrestling program. With their sights set on the NCAA Championships, Mendez and his teammates are poised to make their mark on the national stage, embodying the spirit of determination and excellence that defines collegiate wrestling. As they prepare to face off against the nation’s top competitors, Mendez and his fellow Buckeyes carry with them the hopes and aspirations of Ohio State’s passionate wrestling community, ready to write the next chapter in their storied legacy.