By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State University takes on its Bedlam rival Oklahoma Saturday. This year’s game will be a little different for junior wrestler Tyler Caldwell, as he is experiencing his first Bedlam football week as a member of the Cowboys after spending his first two years in college with the Sooners.
“It’s exciting,” Caldwell said. “I’m looking forward to a good game.”
Caldwell said he won’t be going to the game because of his first dual against Penn on Sunday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I don’t get too involved in other sports. I just focus on wrestling,” Caldwell said. “It’s Bedlam and I know both teams are going to bring it. It’s going to be an exciting game.”
In his seasons at Oklahoma, Caldwell finished fifth at the NCAA Championships during his freshman season. He upset the fifth, ninth and 12th seeds. In his sophomore year he was the NCAA runner-up in the 165-pound weight class. Caldwell said Oklahoma State was one of the biggest matches.
“That was the biggest week of the year for us other than Big 12 and nationals,” Caldwell said.
After his sophomore season, Caldwell’s coach Sammie Henson left. Caldwell was close to him and decided to make a change.
“I wanted to focus on freestyle for the year,” Caldwell said. “I went to the training center and trained freestyle the entire year with the goals and mindset to make the Olympic team. I came short of that in April and realized it’s time to make a choice on where to go to school. Oklahoma State, I’ve always been a fan. I’ve always liked Coach Smith and the staff we have. ... I have a team that can win a national title. With the history, tradition and coaching staff it’s a place I want to be.”
Caldwell went 1-2 in the freestyle 74 kg bracket at the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa. The junior said taking last year off from collegiate wrestling helped make his Bedlam transition easier.
“Since I sat out last year and took my Olympic redshirt and didn’t go to school the whole year, it made it easier to pull of that Band-Aid with OU and let that heal, and put that behind me,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think it mattered what school I went to. OU is in the past and behind me and I can put my best foot forward.”
Caldwell said while Bedlam is important for Oklahoma State, it has other key matches on the schedule.
“We will be seeing No. 2 Minnesota here in two weeks,” Caldwell said. “We will see Iowa, we have the national duals. There’s a lot of tough matches, not just Bedlam. I feel we have a lot of tough matches that you have to be up for.”
The junior got his OSU career off to a good start as he won his 165-pound weight class at the Lindenwood Open last Saturday. On Sunday, the Cowboys wrestle Penn University for their first home dual. Caldwell hopes to make a good impression.
“Overall it was a good tournament once I got my first out and got the jitters out,” Caldwell said. “I’m excited about getting my first home dual at Gallagher-Iba.”