By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
After producing four champions at the Lindenwood Open last weekend, the third-ranked Oklahoma State University wrestling team looks to build off that momentum as it opens its dual season with the University of Penn Quakers 4 p.m. Sunday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“It was a little tougher tournament than we’ve wrestled in the past,” coach John Smith said. “I think everyone got some quality matches in and got tested a little bit. What I liked was our conditioning level and for most part our intensity.”
Senior Jordan Oliver, junior Chris Perry, junior Tyler Caldwell and redshirt freshman Alex Dieringer all won their weight classes. Senior Chris Chionuma, junior Jon Morrison and sophomore Austin Mardsen finished second. Caldwell said it was a good tournament for the team’s first time out.
“We had four guys that came out there and performed pretty well,” Caldwell said. “There were some other guys who could have done better. Overall for the first tournament of the year we looked pretty sharp.”
This is also the Quakers’ first dual after they had two tournaments. Penn opened the season at the Binghamton Open on Nov. 11, producing three runnerup finishes. On Nov. 18 the Quakers hosted the Keystone Classic, finishing second out of 15 teams. Penn won two individual titles with C.J. Cobb at 141 and Canaan Bethea at 184. Mark Rappo finished second in the 125-pound weight class bracket. Perry said Penn will be tougher than the Lindenwood competition.
“You can’t underestimate anybody,” Perry said. “We got to come to wrestle every match. The season starts now. This is the team season and dual season is here. You got to step out on the mat with an attitude and a purpose. It’s a great one to start with since we are going on the road to No. 2 Minnesota.”
Smith said he feels his team can matchup.
“It’s good to get the season kicked off and kicked into gear,” Smith said. “We go from here to March. We just need to gain experience with each match, get a little better after each match. Start to develop some of the weight classes we need to develop.”
Perry said there are several areas the team can improve.
“Shape obviously, it’s early,” Perry said. “Just intensity and staying focused for seven minutes. I think there were many guys with some toughness issues in some matches we lost. I think that’s something that will develop during the year.”
Smith said the team has work to do in pinning and riding, adding it has spent much time on that.
“Our defensive skills need to continue to get better on our feet,” Smith said. “We need to stay in our position for seven minutes. That was something we were exposed a little bit last week. We did a pretty good job of coming off the bottom. ... We definitely saw some areas in pinning and riding that we didn’t look to good in,” Smith said. “We haven’t spent a lot of time working on it. I’m sure once we get into that we will get better.”