By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
John Smith was hopeful the Thanksgiving break would help prepare his Oklahoma State wrestlers the chance to focus on Sunday’s Bedlam matchup in Norman. Instead, he had to worry about some guys making weight after the holiday known for its gorging of food.
“I sure didn’t like the way they came back after Thanksgiving, they were all a little heavy. A little too much turkey,” Smith said. “But we got it off of them (Friday) morning, putting in an extra workout to make sure that it wasn’t going to be a factor for us on Sunday.
“You can only be disciplined so long. When it comes to Thanksgiving, I kind of give in a little bit because there’s some really good food during Thanksgiving. They probably ate more than they should have, but we got it corrected.”
A little extra turkey shouldn’t do too much damage to the third-ranked Cowboy wrestling program. What OSU does have to worry about is the fifth-ranked Sooners.
Oklahoma State has an edge on OU in total ranked wrestlers — by just one — with the Sooners holding the edge in four matchups of ranked wrestlers.
“We probably haven’t had (a matchup of top 5 teams) in 10 or 15 years, if that,” Smith said. “They haven’t been in the game for several years, and they definitely have a team that is very capable. With that, we’re going to need to be at our best and going to need to make sure that we’re excited about trying to get a win there.”
While there will be a couple matchups of top 5 wrestlers, everybody clearly will be anticipating the bout at 174 pounds.
Oklahoma State senior Chris Perry is the defending NCAA national champion at the weight class, but is actually ranked No. 2 in the country by InterMat Wrestling. He stands behind OU’s Andrew Howe, who took an Olympic redshirt last year as he transferred from Wisconsin to Oklahoma. Howe has three top three finishes at the NCAA championships to his name, including a national title at 165 pounds in his sophomore season
“We’ll have to wrestle well. It’s going to be a tight, tough dual meet,” Smith said. “There’s several critical matches that you’ve got to win. In the end, we’re going to have to take it to them. This is probably the tightest Bedlam I’ve seen as far as matchups, in some time.”
Sunday’s dual will be the start of a grueling 2013-14 schedule for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State will host second-ranked Minnesota the following weekend, with scheduled duals against fourth-ranked Iowa, ninth-ranked Missouri, another bout with OU and a late-season dual at No. 1 Penn State — the three-time reigning national champions.
“I don’t think we’ve had a year like this where everyone on our schedule is so strong,” the Cowboy coach said. “That’s what makes it fun, that’s what makes it competitive and that’s the way you really want it. It’s exciting to me. I’m glad that we have a couple tough dual meets before the holiday. We need to embrace it and be excited to compete.”