Only one wrestler in Oklahoma State’s lineup this year has had the opportunity to wrestle Bedlam rival Oklahoma at McCasland Field House.
The last time the Cowboys traveled south to Norman, redshirt senior Nick Piccininni was a redshirt freshman competing in his first Bedlam dual – in December of 2016.
But Sunday, Piccininni will get to return to Norman, along with the rest of the Oklahoma State wrestling team for it’s first of two Bedlam duals – ending a two-year hiatus imposed by the Sooners.
“It’s nice to get back to wrestling home and away (against Oklahoma),” Cowboy coach John Smith said. “… We’ve been fortunate enough to host the single match we had each year, but it’s an important event, it’s a motivator for a lot of people.
“My first experience of college wrestling was Bedlam, and it was one that I will never forget when I was in third grade.”
Oklahoma State may not have as many Oklahoma natives wrestling in Sunday’s dual – which is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will televised on FSOK – as it has in previous years. There are only three in-state Cowboys who have wrestled duals this season – true freshman Reece Witcraft, redshirt sophomore Wyatt Sheets and redshirt senior Boo Lewallen – with an outside chance that redshirt redshirt sophomore Kaden Gfeller could make his season debut, which would come against defending national champion Dom Demas at 141 pounds.
Lewallen, who missed last year’s Bedlam dual due to injury, is looking forward to getting a chance to wrestling in Norman after growing up on the opposite side of the Oklahoma City metroplex in Yukon.
“That was something I look forward to wrestling, you always look forward to competing in every dual but this one, for me, means a lot to me,” Lewallen said. “… For myself, with my parents we would make that drive to come up and watch it in Stillwater, but we definitely went to a lot that were in Norman. I think for the kids in Oklahoma City metro, it’s a little bit closer and it’s still a good atmosphere – a lot of OSU fans show up there. So it’s good to have two matches against each other again.”
This will be the first Bedlam match for Sheets, who was inserted into the lineup late last year – well after the Cowboys steamrolled the Sooners 41-2 in Stillwater.
Like many Oklahoma youth wrestlers, the Stilwell native grew up attending the Bedlam duals and dreaming of one day getting to wrestle in the historic in-state wrestling series.
“It’s a pretty big deal, because it’s something I’ve got to see all my life, and something I’ve dreamed of doing, so I’m excited,” Sheets said. “… I always remember this being the one dual we always went to and never missed. It’s a big deal.”
While there may not be many Oklahoma natives in the roster for Oklahoma State in the Bedlam dual, those who grew up on the East or West Coast have grown to understand the significance – especially when it comes to wrestling.
“It’s a special dual, big things happen in these types of duals,” Piccininni said. “I remember one that I wasn’t a part – my true freshman year – when Kaid Brock got his redshirt pulled for the Bedlam in Norman (and pinned the defending national champion).
“You always have to prepare for them, always have to be ready, because it’s that type of dual where anything can happen.”