In 2013, our old friends at Grantland released a 30-for-30 documentary on a little-remembered moment in the life of Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday at age 74. The film, made by Amani Martin and narrated by John Legend, recounts the story of Ali’s 1990 trip to Iraq before the Gulf War, during which he negotiated with Saddam Hussein for the release of American citizens taken hostage after the invasion of Kuwait. Ali risked his reputation, health and safety for the freedom of prisoners held by Hussein as “human shields” to deter U.S. military strikes. Only six weeks after Ali brought 15 hostages back home to their relieved families, Operation Desert Storm bombarded Iraq.
Photo by SBNationSidney Rice, a key member of the Seattle Seahawks’ offense, will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in Monday night’s 14-9 win over St. Louis.Pro Football Talk first reported the news that hurts an offense that is ranked 28th in the NFL, averaging 198.8 yards per games. Rice suffered the injury midway through the second quarter of Monday’s game on a first-and-goal play from the 9-yard line.Quarterback Russell Wilson tried to get the ball to Rice on the left side of the end zone, but overthrew him slightly. Both Rice and Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins dove for the ball, with Jenkins landing on top of Rice’s lower body. Rice noticeably limped after the play and did not re-enter the game.Rice has not been the player expected after signing a five-year, $41 million deal with the Seahawks prior to the 2011 season. After catching 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns with Minnesota, Rice has not caught more than 50 passes in his three seasons with Seattle. Injuries have been a major part of his minor production.
It wasn’t long after the Seattle Seahawks put the finishing touches on their 43-8 Super Bowl rout of the Denver Broncos that media people began throwing around the d-word, dynasty, as they peered into the franchise’s future.Of course, this happens with just about every Super Bowl winner; squint hard enough, and even the most obvious one-and-done champ looks like a perennial powerhouse. (In some ways, talk of that nature gets even more far-fetched with each passing season — we haven’t seen a repeat Super Bowl winner since the 2004 New England Patriots.) But in Seattle’s case, it might not be totally implausible to expect an elevated probability of a full-blown dynasty.Historically, teams that have won a title find themselves surprisingly well-positioned to win more of them. Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, 55.9 percent of Super Bowl winners won at least one more championship within the following 10 seasons. Even within that club, though, Seattle is starting from a better spot than most. Its schedule-adjusted pythagorean winning percentage during the 2013 regular season ranked sixth among all Super Bowl champions since the merger, trailing only the 1985 Chicago Bears, 1991 Washington Redskins, 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996 Green Bay Packers and 1973 Miami Dolphins.More importantly, the Seattle’s core is incredibly young for an NFL champion. Weighted by the Approximate Value produced by each player on the roster, the Seahawks’ average age (26.0) was the second-youngest in the league a season ago and ranked third-youngest among Super Bowl winners since the merger. The two champs who had lower average ages? The 1974 Steelers and 1981 San Francisco 49ers, each of whom would go on to win three more Super Bowls apiece in their next decade of play. (Seattle also ranks as slightly younger than the 1992 Dallas Cowboys, who won two additional rings in a dynastic run.)Looking at all Super Bowl winners from 1970 to 2003 (for which we have a “next decade” worth of data), there’s a relationship between the team’s AV-weighted age in its championship season and its chances of winning additional titles.Among the aforementioned 55.9 percent of all Super Bowl champions who won another before a decade was up, a disproportionate number are clustered among the youngest teams on the list. Eleven of the 12 youngest champions in our 1970-2003 group went on to win at least one more Super Bowl in the following decade, while only four of the 12 oldest champs would go on to win another title.Usually, talk of dynasty potential among freshly christened champions isn’t very predictive. But because of their youth, these Seahawks are in a situation where the odds of winning another championship are particularly heightened.
Houston Astros(Chance of winning the World Series: 4 percent)Don’t sleep on the ’Stros. Although the Astros are only the second wild card, they show some intriguing potential for October contention. After several much-derided moves to strengthen the bullpen in the offseason, Houston had the second-best relief corps in the major leagues (by wins above replacement). It doesn’t have the top-end relief aces of, say, the Yankees, but the Astros can count on a number of solid arms to bail them out in high-leverage situations.And don’t get put off by the Astros’ second-half swoon, because the team seems to have been unlucky this year. They sport the fourth-best Pythagorean record in the league (but the 10th-best record), and the team lost 17 runs on offense because of unfortunate clustering of their hits, another sign of poor fortune. Even these statistics may be underrating Houston, because a large portion of their production comes from young players who were called up mid-season, like shortstop Carlos Correa and starting pitcher Lance McCullers. The Astros team that the Yankees are facing in the play-in game will be significantly improved from the one that started the year.New York Yankees(Chance of winning the World Series: 5 percent)This Yankees team feels like the prototypical Bronx outfit of the past few years: a team filled with a gaggle of aging veterans on massively overpaid free-agent contracts. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is the current exemplar, and catcher Brian McCann was last year. Together, the Yankees boast the highest average age for position players of any team in baseball, when you weight the players by their WAR contribution. Age and the injuries that come with it make the current Yankees team less intimidating than the one that racked up 87 wins in the regular season. The Bronx Bombers lost their most productive hitter, first baseman Mark Teixeira, after an August injury, and other older players may feel the wear-and-tear more than most.What may make the Yankees unusually dangerous in the playoffs is their incredible late inning relief crew. Their setup man is the intimidating Dellin Betances, who just finished one of the 20 best reliever seasons of the past five years, and their closer is Andrew Miller, whose season ranked in the top 40 on the same list. Although the bottom of the bullpen is more questionable, Yankees manager Joe Girardi can conceal it behind two of the best relievers in baseball, which presents a tactical advantage in the playoffs.Texas Rangers(Chance of winning the World Series: 9 percent)After suffering by far the most injuries last season, the Rangers bounced back to take the division this year. But the Rangers’ playoff position belies the performances of their players. They are 12th in position-player WAR and 20th in pitching. The Rangers’ run differential is a perfectly adequate +18, which puts them more in the range of the Orioles (+20) and Diamondbacks (+7), two also-rans. Indeed, by Pythagorean record, the Rangers ought to have lost the second wild card to the Indians.So the numbers suggest that the Rangers aren’t long for the playoffs, but there are some minor reasons to believe that the Texas roster is stronger than it appears. The deadline trade for Cole Hamels gave them a potent and dependable frontline starter. Rougned Odor has been one of the best second basemen in the majors since being recalled after being demoted to the minors.Even so, it’s hard to buy into the Rangers as genuine contenders. They lack the outstanding bullpens of last year’s surprise teams and don’t match up especially well with the rest of the AL field. Although this season is an unexpected success for Texas, it’s hard to imagine it continuing too far into October.Kansas City Royals(Chance of winning the World Series: 13 percent)Now we get to the class of the league. The Royals are one of the most unexpectedly formidable teams of the past few years. Whether by luck, chemistry or a secret ingredient that the rest of the league has yet to discover, Kansas City has managed to baffle the majority of the preseason prognosticators this year, and I am no exception.It’s never a good idea to bet against the projections too confidently or too often. But the Royals have the production to back up their standing in the league, with a run differential that’s fifth-best in MLB and WAR totals to match.2The Royals come in with the sixth-most position player WAR in baseball and the 15th-most pitching WAR. Having boosted themselves at the trade deadline with the addition of a frontline ace in Johnny Cueto and a versatile hitter in Ben Zobrist, the Royals stand as good a chance as anyone but the Blue Jays at taking the crown, even if we still don’t understand why they are so good. Speaking of those Blue Jays …Toronto Blue Jays(Chance of winning the World Series: 19 percent)It’s difficult to overstate just how incredible the Blue Jays have been this year. Their run differential exceeds the next-best team (the Cardinals) by 99 runs, which itself would be the fifth-best run differential in the league. Since 1950, only 18 teams (out of 1,592; just about 1 percent) have had season run differentials better than the Blue Jays’ sum of +221.3These statistics are derived from Sean Lahman’s database. With their midseason trades for arguably the best position player (shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) and pitcher (starter David Price) available, the Blue Jays became something we almost never see in modern baseball: a steamroller, a world-beater, a superteam. Sure enough, since the All-Star break, the Jays have been even better, racking up a run differential of +139, which put them on pace for the best full-season run differential of any team since 1950.And yet, of those 18 teams with run differentials better than that of the 2015 Blue Jays, only six went on to win the World Series. Only 11 of the 18 even went to the World Series. There’s a reason baseball has gone away from the superteam model: No matter how strong the team, nobody can predict what will happen in a short postseason series.Read more: The Best 2015 MLB Teams, According To Our New Ratings It’s time for real, live playoff baseball. Or as sabermetricians like to call it: the season where weird stuff happens.The playoffs are entirely different from the regular season, with an emphasis on top-tier starting pitching and the savvy usage of strong late-inning relief. Sabermetrics researchers have struggled in vain for years to pinpoint a secret sauce that can guarantee postseason success. Because of the changing strategies and wild-card structures in MLB, trying to figure out who’s going to win the World Series creates problems that are similar to those faced by electoral prognosticators, only with much less data.1Instead of hundreds of polls, we have a few dozen individual games per year, which are noisy indicators even without considering all the potential confounding factors. The truth may be that there is no very accurate way to forecast who will survive the gantlet of the MLB playoffs.But that’s not going to stop us from trying! Elsewhere, Neil Paine has used Elo ratings (FiveThirtyEight’s pet power rating system) to project each wild-card game and divisional series. But before you go read that, stick with me so I can tell you a little bit about each of the AL teams that have found their way into the hunt. (I’ll cover the NL teams on Wednesday.)There are clearly two tiers of teams fighting for the pennant, with the Blue Jays and Royals towering above the Yankees, Astros and Rangers.
There’s no arguing who the go-to player is on the Ohio State men’s basketball team.Whenever the Buckeyes desperately need a basket they turn to junior guard Evan Turner.As Turner continually leads OSU in every offensive statistical category, he is the recipient of frequent accolades and praise for his contribution to the team.But as Turner gets all the attention, the team’s most experienced player, junior David Lighty, quietly goes about his business playing a vital role on the nation’s 21st-ranked team. After originally making a name for himself as the Buckeyes’ best defensive player, this year Lighty has shown a knack for filling in any and every role his team needs him to fill.Take last week for example.The Buckeyes were at Purdue and Boilermaker guard Robbie Hummel had just torched OSU for 29 points in the first half. With seemingly no answer for Hummel’s prolific shooting, coach Thad Matta turned to Lighty to stop the bleeding.“I told the guys at halftime we need to change up or he’s going to get about 100 points in this game,” Matta said. “I challenged Dave to guard him and he did a great job.”After Hummel’s impressive first half shooting display, Lighty held him to a mere six points over the course of the final 20 minutes.Although Lighty finished with just five of his team’s 70 points, he kept the Buckeyes in the game with his effort on the defensive end.Saturday’s game, however, required Lighty to make his mark on the other end of the floor.With Turner’s minutes limited due to early foul trouble, Lighty took the over as the Buckeyes’ go-to scorer and finished the game with a team-high 18 points.“The defense in the Purdue game to the scoring in the Wisconsin game,” Matta said. “Those are all things that this team needs.”Though Matta made it clear that he never underestimates Lighty’s contribution to the team, the coach acknowledged that some people may not completely comprehend just how important he is.“I said last year when he went down,” Matta said referencing a season-ending foot injury Lighty sustained last season. “I don’t think anybody completely understood the magnitude of that injury. He does so many things to help [our] team win.”For Lighty, the lack of attention is nothing new.He arrived on campus as perhaps the least talked about member of coach Matta’s 2006 recruiting class. He was a role player the following year on the Buckeyes’ NIT championship team and he missed most of the next season with the foot injury.And now, with the emergence of Turner as the face of the Ohio State program, Lighty yet again seems to have been designated to a background role.But whether or not he gets the respect he deserves from the general public, Matta is always quick to mention the importance of having Lighty on the floor.“I don’t know, with David, if there’s one thing that I can say that, ‘this is so important,’” Matta said. “There are so many things that he does that add up to help [our] team.”
The last time the Ohio State wrestling team beat Iowa in 1966, Woody Hayes was still the Buckeyes’ head football coach. Archie Griffin had yet to play a down for OSU, let alone win two Heisman Trophies. The United States was in the middle of the Vietnam War under President Lyndon B. Johnson. And everyone, including the coaching staff, involved with the OSU wrestling team had yet to live in a world that saw their school win against Iowa. That all changed Friday night though, after the No. 7 Buckeyes toppled No. 2 Iowa, 21-9, at St. John Arena. Besides being the team’s first win over the Hawkeyes in 46 seasons, the win was also a look into the future of Buckeye wrestling. With seven freshmen or redshirt freshmen starters, OSU is arguably one of the youngest teams in not only the Big Ten, but in Division I wrestling. Freshmen Johnni Dijulius, Hunter Stieber, Cam Tessari, Derek Garcia, Andrew Campolattano and redshirt freshmen Logan Stieber and Josh Demas won a combined 25 state championships in high school. Logan Stieber, Hunter Stieber, Tessari, Garcia and Campolattano are all four-time state champions. Out of those seven, six were able to defeat their Iowa counterpart, and those six victories accounted for all but one of the wins OSU scored against the Hawkeyes. Logan Stieber, Hunter Stieber and Garcia knocked off the No. 2-, No. 3- and No. 6-ranked wrestlers, respectively, in their weight classes by a combined score of 17-7. Just two weeks ago, some were questioning if the youth of the Buckeyes was catching up to them after dropping their first two matches of the season on the road to ranked competition against No. 8 Nebraska and No. 4 Minnesota. Most of those sentiments, though, were put to rest against an Iowa squad that had yet to lose a Big Ten duel this year. Besides being a memorable moment for the program as a whole, Garcia said he thinks finally beating the Hawkeyes proves the legitimacy of their team. “We went out and we didn’t wrestle our best against Nebraska and Minnesota and I think we kind of had a little downer there,” Garcia said. “But we showed everybody right now that we are real.” Hunter Stieber, who defeated a two-time All-American in Iowa’s Montell Marion, agreed that this was a big statement for a young Ohio State team with aspirations of winning it all. “It feels amazing. It’s awesome. Everyone wrestled extremely well … it was amazing, everyone came together, worked hard all week, worked hard all year,” Hunter Stieber said. “We had a few bad dual meets, but I mean, we’re still in the hunt. We can compete and make a run at the national title this year as a team.” OSU coach Tom Ryan said he knew what he was getting himself into when he left Hofstra to lead the Buckeyes. “We came here for this,” Ryan said. “We knew this was called the sleeping giant. It’s far from over. I know the men on the other side of the mat. Those guys were teammates, and I know how they react when they get punched in the nose. They do not fall down, they punch back.” OSU still has three duels left in the Big Ten, including a road trip to defending national champion Penn State next Sunday, Jan. 29, before the National Duals, Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships begin. Ryan said the battle is on. “Ohio State is officially in a fist fight,” he said. “I’m very proud of this group of guys.”
Freshman right side hitter Taylor Sandbothe (10) blocks the ball during a match against Dabrowa Sept. 4 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-2.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe No. 13 Ohio State women’s volleyball team is set to open Big Ten play this weekend against closely-ranked opponents.The undefeated Buckeyes (12-0) are scheduled to play No. 10 Michigan (10-1) at 8 p.m. Friday and No. 15 Michigan State (11-1) Sunday at 2 p.m..The Buckeyes’ performances in those first 12 matches pleased coach Geoff Carlston, but he said he’s looking for more as the squad heads into the Big Ten season.“It’s been fun,” he said. “We knew coming into the season that we’re going to have to be pretty patient because there’s going to be a pretty big learning curve.”OSU has received major contributions from three freshmen — right side hitter Taylor Sandbothe, outside hitter Kylie Randall and defensive specialist Valeria León.Carlston said he likes what the younger players have done, but said the veterans have stepped up as well.“We have talented freshmen, but we have great leadership above them,” Carlston said.Carlston added that some younger players like sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits will have to play an even bigger role since junior middle blocker Anna Faul tore her ACL over the weekend.The team has been successful early in the season because of how it has come together, even more so than in previous years, junior outside hitter Erin Sekinger said.“The chemistry on the floor is like no other,” Sekinger said. “Everybody just clicks with one another.”Carlston said this year’s group has had no problem focusing on each match, even though the roster is young.“It sounds cliché, but we really have put a huge emphasis on one opponent at a time, one match at a time,” he said.Finishing the non-conference schedule unscathed is an accomplishment for any team, senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary said. However, the weekend ahead of the Buckeyes marks the beginning of “the next chapter.”“(In) the Big Ten, obviously every single game we play is a challenge, so we’re just preparing this week and working hard,” Leary said.As far as the matchup against Michigan is concerned, Sekinger said some players are going to be extra motivated once the whistle blows.“I’m an Ohio kid, so I go more crazy for Michigan just because it’s a big rivalry,” Sekinger said.The Wolverines have just one loss on the season, coming against then-No. 16 ranked Florida State, who the Buckeyes played and beat at the Seminole Invitational.Freshman setter Maggie Heim, who has been limited this season by a hamstring injury, said her team will give Michigan a fight as long as the players keep up their effort.“If we come out with the energy we did against Florida State and just play really solid, I think we’ll have a really good shot,” Heim said. “We’ll just have to come out with more energy than (Michigan).”Following this weekend, the Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Indiana for matchups against Purdue Oct. 4 in West Lafayette and Indiana in Bloomington Oct. 5.
Members of Ohio State women’s volleyball team celebrate a point scored against No. 2 Penn State on Oct. 6. The Buckeyes lost 3-2. Credit: Rebecca Farage | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team (10-7, 3-3 Big Ten) will hope to find better success this weekend when it travels for a pair of games in Illinois against No. 6 Illinois Friday and Northwestern Saturday after dropping its last two matches to Penn State and Rutgers.Last season, the Buckeyes beat Northwestern both games in their home-and-home series. Ohio State defeated the Wildcats in a 3-0 sweep at St. John Arena and beat them again in a 3-1 match in Evanston, Illinois.The Buckeyes have won two of the last three contests between the two teams, but lost to the Illini 3-1 last season. Illinois leads the all-time series with a 41-38 record with games between both teams taking place since 1974.Ohio State has been more successful against Northwestern as it has defeated the Wildcats in the last fives matches.Ohio State associate head coach Susan Halverson-Maloney has been practicing with the Buckeyes, focusing on their serve-and-pass as they prepare to go up against two teams she knows play a strong defense and serving game.“Both teams are similar to us in that they’re battling in the Big Ten right now. [They have] a lot of matches going long, a lot of sets going long,” Halverson-Maloney said. “For us it’s about staying in each point, refocusing after each point, winning the long rallies.”Halverson-Maloney believes that the key to having a successful weekend is to find consistency and maintain the same level of play with every game.“[We are] just looking to our leadership to keep us consistent on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, trying to find our edge and our push in tight moments,” Halverson-Maloney said.Last weekend was one of sophomore outside hitter Bia Franklin’s most impressive performances as she hit 10 kills and nine digs in Friday night’s game against No. 2 Penn State. Both numbers were career-highs for Franklin.“I just did what the team needed and they helped me,” Franklin said. “It was really nice and natural, I didn’t really think about it.”With some of the players facing continuous injuries, Halverson-Maloney said the Buckeyes have collectively tried to step up their performance. “They’ve been flexible, they’ve been competitive, willing to do anything for the team,” Halverson-Maloney said. “We’ve had great response from every position. They’re enjoying the newness of the lineup and trying to work out and problem-solve together.”
Every year, both Ohio State and Michigan have this game marked on their calendars.Every year, the Ohio State-Michigan matchup brings together one of the all-time biggest rivalries in college football. Michigan leads the series overall with a record of 58-49-6, but in recent years, Ohio State has taken control, winning the past six installments since Urban Meyer took over as head coach.But this year, for the first time in the Meyer era, No. 4 Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten) comes into “The Game” as the favorite against No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten), and it’s the first time since 2004 that the Wolverines are favorites in Ohio Stadium.“We don’t talk about those things,” Meyer said. “The most prepared team will win the game. It’s not who’s favored and who is not. I didn’t know that. And I don’t imagine our team really does.”Michigan enters as the favorite thanks to a 10-game winning streak after losing its opener on the road to now-No. 3 Notre Dame 24-17. Included in the streak are wins against then-No. 15 Wisconsin, then-No. 24 Michigan State and then-No. 14 Penn State. The victories against the Badgers and the Nittany Lions were by 25 points or more.“Whenever you face an elite team, elite defense, which they are, personnel stands out, front seven stands out,” Meyer said. “I think they’re No. 1 in the nation in pass defense. And just very good personnel, very well thought-out scheme and very good defense.”The Wolverines hold the No. 1 pass defense, as well as the No. 1 defense overall, allowing 234.8 yards per game, more than 15 yards fewer than any other team in the country.Michigan allows 13.5 points per game, tied for the fourth fewest in the NCAA.The country’s strongest defense is led by stars in the front seven. Junior linebackers Devin Bush and Josh Uche combine for 85 tackles, 17.5 of which are for a loss, including 12 sacks.Junior Rashan Gary and redshirt senior Chase Winovich have 7.5 sacks of their own on the defensive line on 94 combined tackles. But Winovich went down with an upper-body injury against Indiana on Saturday, and his status remains uncertain for the game, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said.But Michigan had one of the strongest defenses in the country in 2017 — ending the season with the third-fewest yards allowed per game — when it lost to Ohio State at home.The difference comes on the other side of the ball.After ending this past season with the 25th worst total offense in the NCAA, the Wolverines come into Ohio Stadium averaging 36.6 points per game, No. 24 in the country, scoring 40 or more points in six of their 11 games.Junior quarterback Shea Patterson is the difference maker, throwing for 2,177 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 65.9 percent of his passes. He also averages 4.2 yards per rush for 252 yards and two scores on the ground.Patterson has a trio of players who receive the majority of the targets: sophomore wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins, and senior tight end Zach Gentry.Peoples-Jones leads the team with 32 catches for 477 yards and seven touchdowns. Gentry, the 6-foot-8 tight end, is closely behind with 475 yards and a pair of scores. Collins has 29 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns this season.Senior running back Karan Higdon leads the No. 14 rushing offense in the nation with 1,106 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry.Higdon said Monday in a Michigan press conference he guarantees a Michigan victory against the Buckeyes.Instead of making promises, Meyer is going to let the Buckeyes’ play on Saturday do all the talking. “How do you show respect for them and the game? You work, which we are. We’re working so damn hard for this,” Meyer said.Michigan comes in with the momentum, and hopes of ending its losing streak and finishing off the team’s “Revenge Tour” that has motivated the Wolverines all season.They have gone through three key stops on their tour: Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State.Now, No. 4 Michigan remains one win away from finishing it, facing off against No. 10 Ohio State in Ohio Stadium at noon on Saturday. It enters with the strongest team of the Harbaugh era, and one of the most vulnerable Ohio State teams since Meyer took over.Now, it comes down to one game to see if the Wolverines can finish what they started, or if the Buckeyes can go to the Big Ten Championship once more. Only this time, they will have to do it as the underdog.Wyatt Crosher: 34-24 MichiganColin Gay: 35-31 Ohio StateRachel Bules: 38-35 Ohio StateSydney Riddle: 24-21 Ohio StateAmanda Parrish: 35-30 Ohio StateZach Varda: 45-17 MichiganEdward Sutelan: 28-24 MichiganJake Rahe: 21-17 Ohio State
Ohio State senior wrestler Myles Martin sits at the Steelwood Training Facility. Credit: Nolan Harmon | Lantern ReporterOhio State senior 184-pound captain Myles Martin won a national championship with the Buckeyes as a freshman in 2015-16 in a lower weight class, and is also a three-time All American and Big Ten finalist. But he will still try and add to his legacy in his final year as a Buckeye. After suffering a loss in 2017 in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships to Kent State’s Bo Nickal —a match in which Martin led 4-0 at one point— Martin said he’s more motivated to get back to the top of the mountain. “I spent a month trying to get that taste out of my mouth,” Martin said. “It’s always in the back of my head. It’s one of those things that will motivate me to keep going. Wrestling full seven or full six, freestyle or scholastic. It’s always on my mind. It’s on my mind right now. It’s on my mind when I train. It was a good and a bad thing.” Martin was listed as one of the captains by coach Tom Ryan, who notices some of the younger members of the team looking at Martin more closely and trying to follow his lead. Martin said this is something he can see in his interactions with the younger members of the team. “I definitely know that they’re watching me and that they’re watching down to the small details that I don’t even look at because I do it naturally,” Martin said. “I’m always helping out, especially after practice and with working on the small stuff.” Martin was the 15th true freshman in NCAA history — and the first ever at Ohio State — to win a national championship, an honor that has earned him plaques and his own picture inside the Steelwood Training Facility, where the Buckeyes host their practices. He said those accolades mean a lot to him, but he doesn’t think of them much. “It doesn’t change my personality,” Martin said. “It doesn’t change anything that I do, or my moral or any social values that I have. It’s not going to affect anything about me, just because I have a strong belief system. Tom [Ryan] always encourages us to have strong moral core values.” And Ryan views that in Martin, a leadership that others can emulate on the team, even from the moment he began his career at Ohio State. “He came out of redshirt as a freshman midway through the year,” Ryan said. “That takes a strong belief in himself and our program. He was born a leader. He feels like this is his team and he’s been a great example.”Despite all of the accolades Martin has stacked up in his time with Ohio State, he said he has something other than a national championship that he’s most proud of. “One thing I’m really proud of that I don’t think about as much as I should, is just being a leader here for the team,” Martin said. “Just being one of the main guys that they rely on and just being able to hold up my end of the bargain. It’s just me doing what I love and helping out some of these guys get better.” After 33-6, 32-9 and 31-3 records in his first three seasons with the Buckeyes, Martin will attempt to top himself yet again with a bigger target on his back, as the number one wrestler in his weight class with even higher expectations. But the expectations surpass the wrestling mat. In his final season at Ohio State, those expectations revolve around his leadership.