With the NCAA National Wrestling Championships a month away, Oklahoma State got a feel for its first tournament action this season with Sunday’s Cowboy Challenge Tournament inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
For several of OSU’s starters, it was the first time ever competing in a Division I tournament since the typical open tournaments held in a wrestling season were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
And for those freshmen, they learned a valuable lesson – it’s much harder than it looks.
Only one of Oklahoma State’s three starting freshmen managed to reach the championship match of their respective weight. And that lone rookie representative came up short of claiming a tournament crown.
“Them taking losses today can only benefit them,” said Oklahoma State sophomore Daton Fix, who was the only Cowboy wrestler on the roster to reach an NCAA finals. “They’re gonna learn from it, and they’re going to maybe they’ll let it loose a little bit more now that they’ve taken these losses.”
Dustin Plott made the deepest run of the freshmen, reaching the finals at 174 pounds where he squared off with his first ranked opponent of the season in Wyoming’s Hayden Hastings – who at No. 10 is ranked two spots ahead of Plott on InterMat Wrestling. Despite getting the first takedown of the match, Plott ultimately lost by 8-7 decision – his first loss of the season.
“You focus on your conditioning, you focus on your skill and ultimately it’s that skill that you need to keep hitting them with that wins tough, hard matches,” Cowboy coach John Smith said.
Freshman A.J. Ferrari, who was the top-ranked wrestler in the senior class, also suffered his first loss of the season at 197 pounds, and it too came against a wrestler ranked higher than him. In his third ranked match of the year, Ferrari lost a 3-2 decision to West Virginia’s Noah Adams – who was previously ranked No. 1 before a loss last weekend to Wyoming’s Stephen Buchanan, who beat Adams again in the tournament final.
Trevor Mastrogiovanni, who was the No. 1 seed at 125 pounds, lost his first and only match of the day to Noah Surtin, a backup wrestler for Missouri.
The veterans, on the other hand, performed closer to expectations.
Fix won the tournament title at 133 pounds – including three pins – in his return to action from a USADA one-year suspension. Sophomore Travis Wittlake steamrolled his competition at 165 pounds, getting a 14-2 major decision in the title match against Peyton Hall of West Virginia.
The only other Cowboy to claim a tournament crown was heavyweight Austin Harris. He went up against his backup, Konner Doucet, in the championship match and won in overtime by a 3-1 decision.
Oklahoma State had four other veterans reach the finals of their respective weight classes, but each fell short.
Boo Lewallen lost to Missouri’s Brock Mauller in a matchup of top-4 wrestlers – Lewallen being the underdog – with Mauller getting a takedown in the first tiebreaker to win 7-5 at 149 pounds.
At 157 pounds, Wyatt Sheets – who missed the better part of the season with an injury – came up just short against Wyoming’s Jacob Wright, who was ranked three spots behind the No. 16-ranked Cowboy.
Sheets lost by 3-2 decision, but Smith didn’t seem to concerned about the defeat in what was Sheets’ eighth match since returning from injury.
“Anything’s good right now. I’m not gonna be too hard on him,” Smith said. “Our goal is get him to the end and let him open it up and go. Right now, I’m a little hesitant to go full go, but I’ll tell you, it looks like everything looks good, and knock on wood, he maintains that through the end of the season.”
Senior Dakota Geer, ranked No. 9 at 184 pounds, lost his championship match to Wyoming’s Tate Samuelson by 10-6 decision.
With the postseason just three weeks away, Oklahoma State did take a hit at a thin weight class.
Dusty Hone, who moved into the starting line up at 141 pounds for the injured Kaid Brock, reached the tournament championship match, but didn’t finish it. He suffered a knee injury in the match that forced him to default.
Smith had no word on the severity of the injury – though the ESPN+ broadcast had mentioned Hone had been dealing with a knee injury sustained in the Air Force dual – or who could fill the role if Hone is out for an extended period. Oklahoma State has not had any other wrestler compete in extra matches at 141 pounds – including in Sunday’s tournament.
“It is what it is. In the end, we’ll figure out something,” Smith said. “I don’t know at this point what we have. We have people that can wrestle.”
The Cowboys will close out the regular season with one final dual. They will host Bedlam rival Oklahoma at 5 p.m. next Sunday in a dual that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Cowboy Challenge Tournament
Sunday at Gallagher-Iba Arena
125 – Trevor Mastrogiovanni, Oklahoma State lost by dec. to Noah Surtin, Missouri, 9-6. Colten Klein, Oklahoma State lost by tech. fall to Brendon Garcia, Wyoming, 16-0. Jakason Burks, Oklahoma State lost by dec. to Derrick Stacey, Wyoming, 3-1.
133 – Daton Fix, Oklahoma State tech. fall Trey Crawford, Missouri, 16-1; Fix fall Cam Valdiviez, Missouri, 4:06; Fix fall Job Greenwood, Wyoming, 5:16; Fix fall Ryan Sullivan, West Virginia, 5:10. Andrew Nieman, Oklahoma State lost by fall to Ryan Sullivan, West Virginia, 2:17. Reece Witcraft, Oklahoma State lost by fall to Trey Crawford, Missouri, 1:49.
141 – Dusty Hone, Oklahoma State dec. Darren Green, Wyoming, 4-0; Hone dec. Jeff Boyd, West Virginia, 4-2; Hone lost by injury default to Josh Edmond, Missouri.
149 – Boo Lewallen, Oklahoma State fall Precious Essien, Missouri, 2:41; Lewallen major dec. Jaron Jensen, Wyoming, 12-4; Lewallan lost in tiebreaker 1 to Brock Mauller, Missouri, TB-1 7-5. Cole Van Fleet, Oklahoma State lost by fall to Jensen, 4:35. Jarod Kadel, Oklahoma State dec. Brayden Roberts, West Virginia, 9-6; Kadel lost by major dec. to Brock Mauller, Missouri, 16-4; Kadel lost by fall to Jensen, 2:12.
157 – Wyatt Sheets, Oklahoma State major dec. Mitchell Bohlken, Missouri, 14-4; Sheets dec. Alex Hornfeck, West Virginia, 8-2; Sheets lost by dec. to Jacob Wright, Wyoming, 3-2. Jalin Harper, Oklahoma State dec. Caleb Dowling, West Virginia, 5-0; Harper lost by dec. to Wright, 8-2; Harper dec. Hornfeck, 3-2. Daniel Manibord, Oklahoma State lost by major dec. to Hornfeck, 11-2. Chance McLane, Oklahoma State lost by major dec. to Wright, 14-4.
165 – Travis Wittlake, Oklahoma State dec. Cole Moody, Wyoming, 8-4; Wittlake major dec. Peyton Hall, West Virginia, 14-2.
174 – Dustin Plott, Oklahoma State major dec. Anthony D’Alesio, West Virginia, 11-3; Plott dec. Scott Joll, West Virginia, 9-6; Plott lost by dec. to Hayden Hastings, Wyoming, 8-7. Christian Bahl, Oklahoma State lost by dec. to Hayden Hastings, Wyoming, 5-2.
184 – Dakota Geer, Oklahoma State tech. fall Jake Raschka, Missouri, 19-2; Geer tech. fall Jackson Moomau, West Virginia, 17-2; Geer lost by dec. to Tate Samuelson, Wyoming, 10-6. JaQuan Jackson, Oklahoma State lost by tech. fall to Anthony Carman, West Virginia, 15-0. Evan Shetley, Oklahoma State lost by major dec. to Duwayne Villapondo, Missouri, 17-6. Christian McCutcheon, Oklahoma State lost by major dec. to Moomau, 10-0. Daniel Jezik, Oklahoma State lost by dec. to Raschka, 12-7.
197 – A.J. Ferrari, Oklahoma State tech. fall Jace Punke, Missouri, 17-1; Ferrari lost by dec. to Noah Adams, West Virginia, 3-2. Luke Surber, Oklahoma State major dec. Jack Flynn, Missouri, 19-5; Surber lost by injury default to Stephen Buchanan, Wyoming.
285 – Austin Harris, Oklahoma State dec. Seth Nitzel, Missouri, 5-1; Harris tie breaker 1 Konner Doucet, TB-1 3-1. Konner Doucet, Oklahoma State sudden victory Tucker Tomlinson, Wyoming, SV-1 3-1; Doucet dec. Michael Wolfgram, West Virginia, 3-1.
*Team scoring was not tabulated for this tournament.