Cowboys Primed For NCAA Title Run

Oklahoma State wion another Big 12 Wrestling Championship and did it impressively. In fact, the semifinals were as impressive a rotation for the Cowboys wrestlers this season. OSU ran through quality opponents in a postseason environment with NCAA Championship bids on the line, winning 9 of 10 matches with two falls, a technical fall and a major decision.

The only loss was by 197-pounder Blake Rosholt, who bounced back to get third. At that point Oklahoma State had clinched eight NCAA berths and virtually had the Big 12 title clinched.

"We're feeling good and we've had the toughest schedule in the country," Big 12 Tournament Outstanding Wrestler Chris Perry said of the team effort. "That is why we are doing that.

"We've hit all these guys and we don't worry about what he's got, we just go wrestle. That is the benefit of wrestling guys like that. For me, I love wrestling (Andrew) Howe every chance I get. That is what I'm in this sport for."

Cowboys head coach John Smith was very happy with that first rotation of the day. He felt like Perry's was the best of the season.

"That's what I said to my team after that first round. I said you guys just wrestled the best that you've wrestled all year and you have to grow on that," Smith said. "You have to put two sessions together like that. Tonight, it was good but it wasn't what we needed."

Smith wanted more than the six individual conference champions. Eddie Klimara had a great opportunity at 125 pounds and was ridden out the final period to lose a one-point match on riding time clinched in the last five seconds.

Nolan Boyd held a one-point lead but had to know the bigger, stronger Lelund Weatherspoon was going to try to hit a takedown move in the final 20 seconds and he did. Boyd lost by one.

"With Klimara, he did a pretty good job for two periods," Smith explained of Klimara's one-point loss. "You've got to come out from underneath. The effort was there but maybe the confidence wasn't there. Nolan just needs to recognize and this guy (Weatherspoon) has just moved around the mat and you've pushed him out and it looks like you've been the dominator then 20 seconds left in the match this guy is going to make an attempt and Nolan just wasn't ready. But it's down to a little experience with him."

Tonight he got it. Jon Morrison, freshman Anthony Collica, Alex Dieringer, Tyler Caldwell, Austin Marsden, and Perry all collected individual Big 12 Championships. They all did it in different ways.

Morrison has been as tough as any wrestler in the country down the stretch, and he may have to reimburse OU for a white singlet as his blood was all over the back and front of Cody Brewer's singlet. Morrison has a lot of scares from his season.

Collica has been steady and just continued to improve. He is gaining in confidence at the right time of year. Dieringer is one of the most fun wrestlers to watch for the Cowboys in a long time. Caldwell was back where his college career started to claim a second Big 12 Championship. Marsden was very impressive in winning his first Big 12 individual championship.

But the best came last.

The Field House was nuts as twice officials, on their own and not prompted by the Oklahoma State coaches, looked at video review after awarding Oklahoma's Howe a takedown and in the first sequence a near fall. The review revealed that each wrestler had a leg and even though Perry was underneath, neither wrestler had control of the other. The points were taken off the scoreboard and the match reset both times.

What wasn't reset was the full period ride that Perry put on Howe in the second period, and in the end that was the difference in the 3-2 win for the Cowboy.

It was a crazy and wild scenario that had blood pressure's climbing throughout the building.

"That goes all the way back to Monasmith," Smith said referencing the classic pandemonium situation from the 1978 Big Eight Wrestling Championships and Daryl Monasmith's upset over heavily favored Frank Sanatana. "It was a fight from the start to the end, action all the way, referee's close decisions, both guys were wrestling hard. You know in the end Perry's defense prevailed and he ended up winning a Big 12 Championship."

"I've been in some, the Penn State match (close win over Matt Brown in State College last month) was pretty crazy," Perry said. "I'm a little upset because I don't like guys on my legs that much and I got pretty caught up with the match and the moment and everything.

"I don't give up my legs the whole match and then I give them up three times in one minute. Did he turn it up a notch, yea, but I have to turn it up a notch and punch him in the mouth right back. It's nuts and it's like it means something but I'm not going to jump up and hoop and holler.

"What's coming up in 10 days (NCAA Championships) is what matters. No one will remember who won the Big 12, me or Andrew, or how it was won."

Perry is right, the NCAA title and not the Big 12 is what counts the most with the Cowboys. This team is wrestling like they believe they can win another team championship. They know they have eight wrestlers for sure in the NCAA with automatic berths earned yesterday.

125 - Eddie Kilmara (2nd)
133 - Jon Morrison (Big 12 Champ)
141 - Anthony Collica (Big 12 Champ)
149 - Josh Kindig (2nd)
157 - Alex Dieringer (Big 12 Champ)
165 - Tyler Caldwell (Big 12 Champ)
174 - Chris Perry (Big 12 Champ)
285 - Austin Marsden (Big 12 Champ)

It would appear that with 40 wildcard berths available before Tuesday that one of those would go to at least Nolan Boyd. Boyd was runner-up at 184 pounds where the NCAA only allotted one automatic bid to the Big 12.

Here is the prospects for the Cowboys for wildcard bids.

184 - Nolan Boyd (2nd)
Boyd has a record of 29-11 for the season and was ranked going into the Big 12. He lost to Iowa State's Lelund Weatherspoon 4-3 in the last 20 seconds of the championship match. Honestly, he is what those wildcard berths are intended. His record is what earned the Big 12 that single berth at the weight to begin with.

197 - Blake Rosholt (3rd)
An injury plagued season for the returning NCAA All-American was helped when he came back after being pinned in the semifinal with a win in the third-place match. The Rosholt name has some clout to it, but at the same time Rosholt's 12-8 record won't blow the committee looking at the wildcard berths away. He is a returning All-American and he does have a win over a ranked wrestler in Conner Hartmann of Duke. This could be close.

In the end, I see the possibility, if the Cowboys wrestle really well, of three NCAA champions, with as many as four in the finals and as many as seven All-Americans. That would be a strong tournament resume. It would also be the best wrestling run of the season for Oklahoma State, but the Cowobys showed in Norman Saturday that they may have saved the best for last.

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