It takes a special wrestler to make history in the greatest college program.
And that’s what Nick Piccininni did.
A four-year starter at Oklahoma State, the redshirt senior from East Setauket, New York, became the 44th Cowboy wrestler to achieve 100 career wins, doing so in Saturday’s dual win against Pittsburgh.
“It is special. Putting my name next to a bunch of guys before me who are legends of the sport is definitely something to be proud of,” Piccininni said. “Getting 100 wins is a cool milestone to hit in the orange Oklahoma State singlet.”
The special night started a little sour for the Cowboy senior.
While his 100th win came via the fall, he was taken down twice by Louis Newell in the first period. But the two-time All-American flipped the script and pinned the Panthers wrestler in the opening frame to collect the historic win.
“Obviously, I like to look at the match as a whole and obviously I’m not too happy about how it went (at the start),” Piccininni said. “… For the fans, the end, being triumphant (by fall) for them was cool. But I had a rough start, and it happens and I made adjustments. But I guess No. 100 coming with a fall like that is pretty cool.”
It should be cool for the senior. Those endings haven’t come often for him in his Cowboy career.
Saturday’s pin in the Pittsburgh dual was just his 12th fall in his four-year career.
Piccininni holds an 86 percent win percentage – with a 100-16 record – which sits just outside of the top 50 all-time in program history. His 27 bonus-point victories last year were a tie for ninth in the program for a single season – and Saturday’s pin was his 13th bonus-point win this season.
“He’s one of those guys that you would coach forever,” coach John Smith said. “It’s not so much about being good, but his attitude, the way he addresses practice, the way he comes in and he’s a great student. I don’t think in my five years I’ve ever had to question him about school or what’s happening in school.
“He’s just a consistent guy who has great discipline in his life. I think he’s a guy who really wants his team to do well. It’s his senior year. He knows our team has to fight for tough wins, and he does everything he can to start that off in the duals.”
He’s also had an impact on a roster that features five wrestlers who are starting for the first time this season. Among those five are two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman.
And if either of them are able to have the career like Piccininni, they too could find themselves reaching the 100-win plateau.
“It gets me excited that when I’m a senior, that’s who I want to be like,” redshirt freshman Anthony Montalvo said. “I want to be like Nick Piccininni, but at an upper weight – obviously, I don’t think I’ll make to 125 any time soon.”
Though Montalvo does wrestle at 184 pounds, and hails from the complete opposite side of the country as Piccininni, he has gravitated toward the New York native even back when Montalvo was growing up in Clovis, California.
“Funny story, I used to be the kid that used to DM Nick Piccininni, and he was almost a God to me. I loved Nick so much,” Montalvo said. “Right when I got here, we sat down and he talked to me and was very genuine. I love him.
“To see that for him, it’s awesome.”
Montalvo called Piccininni the leader of the roster, and even how his 100th win played out is an example Smith will use for his young wrestlers in the wrestling room.
“In the end, staying aggressive and shaking off those two takedowns in the first is just an example I can use tonight for guys that things happen,” Smith said. “He wasn’t planning on that to happen, and you can either get rattled, or you get right back up and score the next takedown. That’s what he did.”
Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State athletics.