Oklahoma State wrestling will face two opponents in two states in a matter of five hours when the Cowboys face Air Force at noon Saturday and then Wyoming at 7 p.m.
“Good thing they’re close enough you know a couple hours from each other,” Cowboy coach John Smith said. “We have a number of dates that you have to abide by and we had an opportunity to pick up an extra dual meet at home, and so that’s the reason why we moved it. I’ve done it in the past, probably four or five times in my career, usually on the road always.”
After facing an unranked Air Force squad with no ranked wrestlers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Cowboys will bus approximately 200 miles north along the edge of the Rocky Mountains to Laramie, Wyoming. And while they will be on the road for around three hours between their matches, Smith is concerned about the unique trip to the Rockies.
“We’re spoiling these guys. They’re going to be on a nice bus, stretched out,” Smith said. “I remember the days when – you know, I don’t even want to talk about my days. What we did, they might go back and arrest some people.”
On paper, the opponents don’t pose much of a threat with Wyoming having only two wrestlers ranked by InterMat Wrestling. However, the importance will be for postseason seeding.
Both Air Force and Wyoming are Big 12 Conference affiliates, and will take part in the league tournament in Tulsa in early March – and the results of the weekend will have an impact in the seeding for that tournament.
“I think definitely Wyoming is going to be the tougher of the two matches,” Smith said. “We have some good matchups individually. Both teams have some really good guys, the dual meet in Laramie’s always been real competitive.”
While it’s a business trip for Smith and his Cowboys, there will be some familiar faces at both stops.
Smith’s coaching tree grows almost yearly, with one of the most established by Wyoming’s Mark Branch, who is in his 12th season in Laramie after winning two individual national championships (and finish second two other times) under Smith.
At Air Force, recent Oklahoma State graduate Chandler Rogers is breaking into the college wrestling coaching rankings by serving as the Director of Operations for the Falcons – while continuing to pursue his post-college wrestling career, training at the Air Force Regional Training Center, as well as the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, which is also located in Colorado Springs.
“It’s good to see our guys got a chance to branch out and take positions across the country,” Smith said. “It tells tells you the story a little bit about Oklahoma State wrestling, and it’s a little bigger than all of us – it gives all of us an opportunity to to branch out. I think that we’re all fortunate to be a part of it.”