By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Overlooking an opponent is the fear of any coach in any sport. The proverbial trap game.
That's what John Smith, Oklahoma State’s wrestling coach, must prepare his players for this weekend.
While there is plenty of buzz surrounding Sunday’s Bedlam dual against No. 10-ranked Oklahoma, the second-ranked Cowboys still have a tall task on Saturday with a home match against No. 20 Wyoming.
“We’ve got to wrestle a good weekend and we've got to stay focused and be prepared,” Smith said.
If anything, Smith views the weekend as an advantage in preparing for the multi-day NCAA tournament at the end of the year.
“I think it’s an advantage depending on how you look at it,” Smith said. “We’ll wrestle three days in a row at the NCAA championships and if you’re going to win or place, you're going to wrestle anywhere from five to seven matches over that three-day period.
“If we can’t do this, we’re not very tough to start with. So it shouldn’t be a problem, it’ll just be two tough teams though.”
Oklahoma State (2-0) has momentum on its side right now. The Cowboys are coming off of a big dual win over previous top-ranked Minnesota on the road.
“I think it definitely shows that we have a team this year that’s special,” OSU junior transfer Tyler Caldwell said. “We have a group of guys who can really surprise some people. We have a strong lineup and I think that dual let us showcase that.”
While OSU has never lost to Wyoming — including a five-dual win streak against the Cowboys from the north under coach Mark Branch, a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA national champion at Oklahoma State. Smith said there’s reason to be cautious with the visiting team.
“I wouldn’t say they have any one outstanding kid to watch, but they have a really balanced team,” Smith said. “... When you have a balanced team, it gives you a lot of strength in dual meets and gives you a chance to win any dual.”
While Caldwell is focusing on the next match ahead with Wyoming, Sunday will be still be intriguing for the Goddard, Kan., native. Caldwell spent his first two years wrestling collegiately at Oklahoma, where he was a two-time All-American and finished as the NCAA runner-up at 165 pounds as a sophomore.
“Being in Norman is obviously going to be a little different environment for me,” Caldwell said. “I’ll be in a different singlet and sitting on the other side of the bench. But other than that, nothing changes. I’ve got to stay focused and have my mind set and ready for the match I’m going to wrestle.”
Both duals, Saturday’s 7 p.m. match against Wyoming and the 2 p.m. Bedlam bout in Norman, will be aired live on 93.7 FM in Stillwater. The audio stream can also be heard live on okstate.tv, but a subscription is required to listen online. Sunday’s Bedlam dual will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest (Suddenlink channel 37) and Fox College Sports (Suddenlink 237).