Ohio State wrestling: Stieber revved up, ready for return from injury
Team captain Logan Stieber, an NCAA champion last season, returns after missing five matches because of a hamstring injury.
Time and training are of the essence to Logan Stieber, so he fielded a reporter’s questions while running two miles on a treadmill before Ohio State’s wrestling team began practice.
Doing an interview during a workout isn’t surprising to anyone who knows Stieber, the reigning 133-pound NCAA and Big Ten champion.
“That’s why he’s a champ,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said.
A treadmill’s hum and the sound of Stieber’s pounding feet revealed his eagerness about returning to competition tonight against Illinois in Oak Harbor, Ohio, his first match since mid-December. The third-year sophomore has missed OSU’s past five matches because of a hamstring injury.
“I feel great,” said Stieber, the team captain. “I’ve been full-go in practice the past two weeks. My weight is better than ever. I’m excited.”
OSU was 6-0 after Stieber won two matches — improving his record to 15-0 — against Maryland and Hofstra in the Grapple at the Garden in New York on Dec. 16. But he twice hurt his left hamstring during practice before a Jan. 4 match at Iowa.
Stieber didn’t wrestle and the Buckeyes lost to Iowa. Results from an MRI on his leg suggested patience was in order.
“You’ve got to make sure it heals properly because a hamstring injury can just linger,” Ryan said.
So Ryan kept his All-American from Monroeville, Ohio — who had advanced to the final at the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials last March — sidelined during OSU’s win at Northwestern, home loss to Minnesota, win at Indiana, and home victory over Wisconsin.
“It (stunk) just watching our team and not being able to help them out,” said Stieber, who redshirted two years ago because of a broken hand. “But I knew I had to take my time with this injury and hopefully come back stronger than before.”
Despite going 3-2 in Stieber’s absence, the Buckeyes are ranked sixth in the nation and feeling good heading into tonight’s match against No. 8 Illinois.
“It’ll be nice to have Logan back,” Ryan said. “When you’re a national champion, you bring a sense of great leadership when you’re in there.”
Stieber isn’t fearful of re-injuring the hamstring and views the injury as helpful.
“It has probably been a good thing,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to wrestle in all those matches, but I got a chance to get my weight under control and learn from watching my opponents and learn about our team. The most important thing is to be healthy and strong for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.”