By Derek Brown
DES MOINES, Iowa — Editor's note: It was a wild 2013 in Oklahoma State, Stillwater and area sports. So wild and exciting that some of the biggest moments fell to the chopping room floor when voted on by the members of The Stillwater NewsPress. In the days leading up to the New Year, the NewsPress sports department will count down the top 10 stories of 2013.
Oklahoma State wrestlers were tested and they delivered. Chris Perry and Jordan Oliver will always remember the day that they won national titles.
Even though OSU had two national winners the Cowboys came up just short of ending Penn State’s reign atop the college wrestling landscape last March during the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I don’t know if it’s that disappointing because we won two championship matches. We did our part and unfortunately they won two as well and it was enough for them to win,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “We had a good tournament and I can’t look back on this and wish for anything different. We did about as well as we could do and we gave ourselves a chance and just fell short.”
The Cowboys did leave Wells Fargo Arena with some first-place hardware.
Perry, a Stillwater High graduate, sawyears of work on the mat come to a pinnacle with an overtime win in the championship match at 174 pounds.
“It’s unexplainable. Most of the emotions are just out of work and the people I do it for, my family and my coaches and there’s so many people I have in my life that I just want to win for,” said Perry, who fell to his knees on the mat and fought back tears after winning the match. “As great as winning for myself, it’s just the people who helped me through it. I have so many great people, and it’s just indescribable. It’s almost a shell shock moment when you’re up there. You don’t even know what to do. When you win, you just kind of fall apart, like everything is like a big weight is off your shoulder.”
The OSU junior had the pressure of keeping the Cowboys’ hopes of a team title alive with the championship matches starting at 174. After both Perry and Penn State’s Mathew Brown swapped escapes in regulation, Perry rode Brown out for the full 30 seconds in the first tiebreaker period. Perry was able to escape from the bottom in the following tiebreaker to win the match 2-1.
“It was tough. I went to his ankles a couple of times. We worked on going to his ankles instead of jumping on the top, which I’ve done a couple times this year, which cost me in National Duals,” Perry said.
“But I didn’t give up that escape when I went to his ankle that one time. I knew after I kept going ankle he was thinking I was going ankle again. If guys are waiting on that, it’s hard to do it because I seem to fall over the top like I did the first time when I tried to ride him.”
Seeing Perry win his first title was extra special for Smith, who is Perry’s uncle.
“Anytime you have a family member involved there is a little bit more meaning to it,” Smith said. “I’m just glad he won because my sister doesn’t have to bark at me anymore. But he earned it and just did a lot of things on his own this year ... and just had the passion and the drive to learn how to do some things and have self-reliance.”
OSU senior Oliver capped his Cowboy career with a second NCAA national championship. With a 3-1 win — in which he scored a takedown with 15 seconds remaining — Oliver ended his season undefeated with opponents never having scored a takedown in his 41 matches.
“This year was going to be even tougher. Winning it once, coming back as a runner-up from last year, and knowing I lost the finals last year,” Oliver said. “I had to get that monkey off my back, but it’s definitely a great feeling. I definitely would say winning my second national title was way more difficult than winning my first one.”