2022-2023 Early NCAA Lineup Looks

Way Too Early Lineup Look: 2022-2023 Ohio State Buckeyes

Way Too Early Lineup Look: 2022-2023 Ohio State Buckeyes

A future lineup breakdown that shows Buckeye fans have things to get excited about.

Apr 6, 2022 by JD Rader
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A 13th place finish at the national tournament isn’t quite what Ohio State wrestling fans have become accustomed to under head coach Tom Ryan. However, they have a lot to be excited about with both the amount of talent returning and the fact that they are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes of all time.

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A 13th place finish at the national tournament isn’t quite what Ohio State wrestling fans have become accustomed to under head coach Tom Ryan. However, they have a lot to be excited about with both the amount of talent returning and the fact that they are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes of all time.

2022-23 Ohio State Projected Starting Lineup

125: Malik Heinselman

133: Andre Gonzales / Nic Bouzakis

141: Dylan D’Emilio / Jesse Mendez

149: Sammy Sasso

157: Paddy Gallagher

165: Carson Kharchla

174: Ethan Smith

184: Kaleb Romero

197: Gavin Hoffman

285: Tate Orndorff / Nick Feldman

125: Malik Heinselman, SR

Malik Heinselman has held down the leadoff spot for the Buckeyes the past four years. Thanks to the NCAA’s COVID eligibility relief plan, he has an extra year if he chooses to use it. To my knowledge, Heinselman has not publicly stated his decision as of yet. As a 4X national qualifier 0X All-American, my money would be on returning and attempting one more time to get on the podium. 

Heinselman has had his struggles throughout his career, but with wins like Patrick McKee, Sam Latona, Drake Ayala, Robert Howard, and more, he’s had his high points as well. It would greatly benefit the Buckeyes to have Heinselman return. If he does not, they’re looking at rolling out sixth year Brady Koontz if he returns as well or true freshman and Ohio native Brendan McCrone.

Watch Heinselman pin Patrick McKee at the 2020 Big Ten tournament below.

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133: Andre Gonzales, FR / Nic Bouzakis, FR

The first potential tough lineup decision for Tom Ryan could come at 133 lbs. Nic Bouzakis is the #3 overall recruit coming out of the class of 2022. He’s won basically everything under the sun including Super 32 and National Preps at least once. But is he ready for the big show of D1 wrestling? Only time will tell. If not, other potential starter Andre Gonzales is no slouch. #59 on the 2021 big board, Gonzales was a California state champion and Ironman champion for Poway High School. He had a solid redshirt season going 23-5. His best win came over Lehigh freshman and fellow California native Carter Bailey.

Listen to Bouzakis talk about his Buckeye future below.

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141: Dylan D’Emillio, JR / Jesse Mendez, FR

Another big decision that could affect the landscape of the entire weight. Ohio State fans might be eager to get 4X Indiana state champion and massive recruit Jesse Mendez into the starting lineup, but I’m not sold yet if it’s worth it to put him in ahead of a 2X national qualifier in Dylan D’Emillio. I think Mendez will be great at the college level, but he reminds me a bit of Carter Young. I believe Mendez will compete at 61 kg this summer and be phenomenal, but could have some trouble filling out 141 his first year out of high school. If Mendez does get the nod, I’m sure he’s proved to Tom Ryan that he’s ready.

Watch Jesse Mendez win his fourth Indiana state title below.

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149: Sammy Sasso, SR

The rock of the Ohio State team for the past two years, Sammy Sasso. After making the finals in 2021, took a small step back by finishing fifth at this year’s NCAA Championships. Unfortunately for Buckeye fans, everyone who finished above Sasso at NCAAs will be back next year. Two of them, Austin Gomez and Ridge Lovett, are in the Big Ten. Sasso actually didn’t wrestle Lovett this year but went 0-2 against Gomez.

157: Paddy Gallagher, FR

We thought we might get the debut of Paddy Gallagher last year, but he stayed in redshirt. While competing in four open tournaments, Gallagher went 17-2 with the losses coming to NCAA qualifier Michael Petite and high school standout and Penn State commit Levi Haines. 

Homegrown Gallagher was a 2X Ohio state champion, Ironman champion, Fargo champion, and Who’s #1 champion for St. Eds. There were some questions about if he could make 157 or not a year ago, but he proved he can hold the weight this year.

Watch Paddy Gallagher take out Ok State’s Trevor Mastrogiovanni at Who’s #1 below.

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165: Carson Kharchla, SO

Carson Kharchla was everything we thought he was going to be this year, taking 7th in arguably the deepest weight in the country. One of Kharchla’s main Big Ten adversaries, Alex Marinelli, won’t be there next year, but he’ll still have to deal with DJ Hamiti and Cam Amine, who both beat him at the Big Ten tournament. Kharchla is currently ranked 5th in the way too early 2023 NCAA rankings.

Watch Carson Kharchla take out NCAA finalist Jake Wentzel at the NCAA tournament below.

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174: Ethan Smith, SR

Ethan Smith will be a sixth-year senior, but he confirmed that he ain’t done yet.

Similar to Sasso, Smith took a step back in terms of NCAA finish this year compared to 2021. Smith was still able to put together a good season, however. Heading into nationals, he was 21-5 with all five losses coming to top-five opponents. Unfortunately for Buckeye fans, he was upset by Stanford’s Tyler Eischens in the first round and then fell to OK State’s Dustin Plott in a wild bloodround match. He’ll be poised for another AA finish like when he took 5th in 2021 as he’s currently ranked #6 in the way too early 2023 rankings.

184: Kaleb Romero, SR

Kaleb Romero could be another potential sixth-year starter for the Buckeyes. Unlike Smith, however, Romero hasn’t publicly stated yet whether or not he will use his extra year of eligibility, but with Rocky Jordan hitting the transfer portal, one would think that means Romero is coming back. If he doesn’t, he went out on a high note finishing as an All-American. Showing steady progress throughout his career Romero went redshirt, non-starter, national qualifier, bloodround, 6th place so far in his five years in Columbus. 

If Romero doesn’t come back, the Buckeyes should do what they can to keep Rocky Jordan in Columbus. If not Romero or Jordan, the starter will probably be Gavin Bell or maybe even true freshman Luke Geog if he puts on some size.

Watch Kaleb Romero beat Taylor Venz at the NCAA tournament below.

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197: Gavin Hoffman, SR

Another example of progression for the Buckeyes, Gavin Hoffman should be up for most improved wrestler of the year. After going 5-7 last year and failing to qualify for NCAA’s Hoffman got hot at the NCAA tournament and took 6th this year. 

Hoffman was the #10 overall recruit in the class of 2018, but seems to just now be reaching his potential. It won’t be easy to double down on this year’s NCAA performance, however, as most of the field returns + AJ Ferrari.

Watch Gavin Hoffman make the NCAA semifinals below.

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285: Tate Orndorff, SR / Nick Feldman, FR

Of the three true freshmen I’ve mentioned so far as potential starters, I think Nick Feldman is the most ready. Tate Orndorff has one more year of eligibility, but it will be interesting to see if he uses it with Feldman incoming. Obviously, practicing for a year in the Ohio State room will do nothing but help Feldman’s progression, but I love him as a prospect. Orndorff was an AA in 2021, but with him just missing the podium this year, the Buckeyes might have a tough decision on their hands if he wants to come back.

Watch Nick Feldman dominate at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic two weekends ago.

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