Updated Fri, Jan 31, 2014 10:53 am
In wrestling there are plenty of ways to win a match. Wins by decisions are great. Major decisions are majorly awesome. Tech falls are even better, but in the sport pins reign supreme.
Falls get the crowds roaring and benches up on their feet. For the Ohio Bobcats, heavyweight Jeremy Johnson and 165-pounder Harrison Hightower are the Green and White’s likeliest source to add the excitement.
The Ohio wrestling team as a whole excels at getting its opponents shoulders on the mat. The team’s 59 pins to date ranks 19th in Division I. With 11 pins, Hightower ranks first in the nation among 165-pounders. Add Johnson’s nine to his teammate’s number and they make up more than a third of the ‘Cats’ fall total.
Part of the reason that makes a pin so exciting is how useful they can be in a dual meet setting. Whereas a decision awards the victorious wrestler’s team three points, a pin puts six points on the board.
“It’s awesome to get those extra team points...It’s like getting two wins,” Johnson said.
Ohio’s recent lopsided victory in Buffalo is the perfect case to prove his point.
Hightower recently picked up a pin in that dual along with two other Ohio wrestlers. The three pins gave the Bobcats more than half of their 34 points scored. Johnson helped add to that score as he came away from the meet with a 9-4 victory, ending a streak in which he had recorded four straight falls.
Johnson and Hightower can make it look easy at times but there are plenty factors to their successes.
“It takes a lot of grit to hold somebody down there against their will,” Hightower said. “It is obviously a bit difficult, so it does take some mental toughness and some stubbornness.”
He credits his upper body strength to his propensity to pin his opponents. Dealing with a minor growth defect that hinders his wrestling abilities on his feet, Hightower has compensated by becoming a terror for his opponents when wrestling on top.
“I think I’m one of the better top guys out there so, and when I go out there my mentality is that [opponent] knows I’m pretty good on top, too,” he said.
Like Hightower, Johnson likes to put pressure on his opponents on top to work his way into a pin.
“I’m able to wear guys out to the point where they are just so tired that they just want the match to be over so they roll to their back,” Ohio’s heavyweight said.
Coming away from a match with a pin is not always Johnson’s first thought, he admits. He says his plan entering a match is to simply wear his opponent out, but he will surely capitalize on an opportunity if it presents itself.
A contrast to his teammate, Hightower starts a match with a plan to come away with a victory by fall.
“It’s kind of a flow with my take down I usually do,” he said. “It works well to kind of roll into my bar-and-half which I usually get my pins off of. It’s kind of a system, it doesn’t always necessarily work that way but as you can see a lot of the time it does.”
Actively looking for a pin usually translates to a quick result when Hightower is on the mat. Ten of his 11 pins have come in the first period and when he does record a fall, it comes just under two minutes into the match, on average.
Johnson says the heavyweight class is not so conducive for quick results.
“I think when you are wrestling at the heavyweight class guys are much bigger and stronger so turning them over in the first couple minutes is difficult,” he said.
For that reason, Johnson typically has to wear the opposition out before he can record a pin. As a result, the heavyweight’s pins have taken about three-and-a-half minutes on average.
With the standard wrestling match lasting seven minutes, both Hightower and Johnson agree that ending a match early with a pin is a huge benefit.
“[A pin] is definitely a relief,” Hightower said. “Seven minutes of wrestling might not seem like much but when you’re out there scrapping with a guy it feels like an eternity so to be able to end a match quick is [always] good.”
“At this point of the year I have always been told that if you can get off the mat as quick as you can, get off the mat,” Johnson said. “Because you are saving yourself up for those moments in March when you are going to be on the mat the whole time, so when you can get a couple of extra minutes off that’s always good for the body.”
Johnson and Hightower each have aspirations to wrestle beyond the regular season and well into the later days of March, and they hope those precious minutes saved will benefit them down the road.