Several Ohio State wrestlers showcased their prowess at the NCAA National Championships held at the T-Mobile Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Among the standout performances was Jesse Mendez, competing in the 141 lb weight class, who faced off against his top rival this season, Penn State’s Beau Bartlett.

The anticipation of Mendez verses Bartlett was something that the wrestling community had highlighted for Saturday night’s National Championships. Bartlett had won in a duel earlier in the the season at College Station. Their rivalry intensified at the Big Ten Championships, where Mendez secured a last-second takedown, setting the stage for the ultimate showdown at the National Championships.

In a nail-biting match, reminiscent of their previous encounters, both wrestlers grappled fiercely, resulting in a 1-1 tie after escapes in the second and third periods. With seconds remaining, Bartlett made a decisive move, seemingly on the brink of a takedown. However, Mendez executed a brilliant counter, rolling through to secure a takedown as the match concluded, clinching his first National Championship and Ohio State’s first since Olympian Kyle Snyder’s triumph in 2018.

Reflecting on the intense competition, Mendez expressed respect for Bartlett.

“I have a lot of respect for him. I know every match with him is going to be a scrap. I was just trying to find my offense… It got real close at the end, but I wanted it too bad.”

Jesse Mendez

In another championship bout featuring a Buckeye, Rocco Welsh contested in the 174-pound division against Penn State’s Carter Starocci. Despite a valiant effort, Welsh succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in a grueling encounter. Starocci’s victory marked his fourth National Championship, elevating him into the ranks of wrestling history as one of only seven to achieve such a feat.

As a true freshman, Welsh exhibited promise and resilience, vowing to return stronger next year with aspirations of ascending to the summit of his weight class in the absence of Starocci’s formidable presence.

Additionally, freshman heavyweight Nick Feldman delivered an impressive performance, securing fifth place in the nation after triumphing over fourth-ranked Cohlton Schultz from Arizona State with a commanding 11-4 victory.

The collective display of talent from Ohio State’s wrestling team signals a promising future, with Mendez expressing ambitions beyond individual success.

“I don’t want to do it alone. The Buckeyes are coming for a team title. Whether it’s next year or the year after that, we’re coming.”

Jesse Mendez

With a youthful roster brimming with potential, Ohio State emerges as a formidable contender poised to challenge wrestling powerhouse Penn State in the years to come, igniting excitement and anticipation within the wrestling community.