By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
What was supposed to serve as way to decide the Big 12 Conference regular season wrestling champion turned into a showcase of Oklahoma State dominance Friday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Cowboys swept their conference opponents, including an historic performance against Big 12 newcomer West Virginia — in which OSU recorded a 57-0 victory, the program’s most lopsided win — thanks to some wrestlers being held out of competition.
“If there’s something to win, we’re going to win it. That’s what it’s about,” OSU coach John Smith said. “I can’t imagine not trying to win a dual meet.”
The day as a whole could have been summed up by one wrestler — OSU senior Jordan Oliver. The three-time All-American picked up three pins in his final regular season matches at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I think any time you get a pin in college, you’re pinning a state champion, or a two-timer or three-timer. You’re pinning a pretty good kid,” Smith said. “Most of these kids have been pretty special kids at one time. So you don’t grow to expect it, you just enjoy it every time it happens. And he looked good today.”
The Cowboys also got a sweep from an unexpected source in Julian Feikert. While the 141-pounder didn’t wrestle the top wrestlers in the conference — No. 1 Kendric Maple of Oklahoma and No. 27 Luke Goettl of Iowa State — the sophomore wrestler from Keokuk, Iowa, will try to cover Friday’s momentum over into what will be a much more difficult day for him Saturday.
“You better have two good days in a row. Can it help him? It should,” Smith said. “But you have to earn and perform. We’ll see what happens.”
With Bedlam rival Oklahoma electing to focus on Saturday’s individual tournament, OSU and Iowa State were the only two teams to wrestle their starting lineups throughout the day. Because of that, the Bedlam battle — which was supposed to be the highlight of the night as it was televised — turned into a 40-3 blowout for the Cowboys in their home arena.
“We’re hoping that obviously this never happens again,” said OU coach Mark Cody, whose squad also lost a 38-7 dual to Iowa State. “This was an ugly day, the whole day. What we’ve got to do is just make sure this never happens again. It wasn’t an ideal situation, I don’t think, for anybody. But I think going forward, we make sure that we learn from this.
“Holding our guys out is one thing. But for the guys we put in there, for them to not go out there and not fight is unacceptable to me.”
Instead, the highlight dual of the day came between Oklahoma State and Iowa State, but even then it wasn’t much of a competition. It was a similar performance to OSU’s trip to Ames, Iowa, in early February, with the Cowboys rolling to a 29-6 victory.
In the only upset of the Cowboys on Friday, No. 18 Mike Moreno of Iowa State utilized a four-point maneuver against No. 3 Tyler Caldwell to collect a 5-2 decision. Caldwell will get a chance at revenge in Saturday’s individual championship, which is set to begin at 5 p.m. with semifinals, followed by the championship and consolation round at 6 p.m.
“It’s going to be a lot tougher for us (Saturday). A lot of guys sat out, maybe thinking that rest will help them,” Smith said. “But I do believe that by us competing today and making weight twice, can be a benefit for us going into (Saturday) afternoon.”