NCAA Wrestling: Four In The Finals

OKLAHOMA CITY - The NCAA Wrestling Committee will decide the order of Saturday night's championship finals matches. For the first time, the finals won't be wrestled in order of weights, and there will be plenty of drama to be created by the order of the finals. On a day where Oklahoma State, Penn State and Minnesota each were in first place at one point, what will be the order of the finals?

The Cowboys put themselves in a really good position to wrestle later as they won all four of their semifinals matches Friday night. Minnesota has just two finalists and Penn State has a pair. Both the Nittany Lions and Golden Golphers have more wrestlers in the consolations, but the biggest points left on the table will be won Saturday night and not Saturday morning.

The team standings after the dust cleared on Friday night were Penn State with 91 points, Minnesota at second with 90.5 points, and Oklahoma State third with 87.5 points.

As for marquee match possibilities, how about a Cowboy versus a Golden Gopher at 157 pounds. OSU's Alex Dieringer led from start to finish as he started with a reversal after an injury time out and defeated Cornell freshman Brian Realbuto.

It was close in the third period but Dieringer closed out his opponent, who was struggling with a bad right knee after it was twisted awkwardly in the first period. The final score was 7-4 and now Dieringer, the third seed, faces Minnesota's Dylan Ness. In the dual this season, Dieringer beat Ness 4-2 in sudden victory period one.

"Last time it was in overtime so I stayed conservative with him," Dieringer said of the first meeting. "As long as I stay smart with my attacks and wrestle a smart match because, out of nowhere, he could do some of that crazy high flyer stuff."

How about a battle between a Cowboy and a Nittany Lion, and one that features the top two seeds no less. The Cowboys Tyler Caldwell has pushed through the bracket and made his way into the finals at 165 pounds by shutting out Nicholas Sulzer 5-0.

It was typical Caldwell control of the match and the mat. A quick takedown at the end of the second period and almost immediate near fall points were the big difference and now Caldwell gets top seed David Taylor. Taylor pinned his first three opponents in Oklahoma City and some think he is unbeatable. This match could go a long way in determining the team champion.

"I've wrestled him three times now and each time I've closed the gap," Caldwell said. "I think I've made bigger strides since I wrestled him last in February. I'm really looking forward to wrestling him tomorrow night."

It won't decide the team champion but how can you resist Bedlam in Oklahoma City to finish off the NCAA Championships. The Big 12 let the Cowboys Chris Perry and the Sooners Andrew Howe go last in the Big 12 Championships and the 174-pound final was nuts with Perry winning 3-2. The two wrestlers are even for the year, one a piece, so this is the rubber match.

Perry almost didn't get there. He was taken down in the semifinals by Iowa wrestler Michael Evans and was trailing 2-1 but then rode Evans out in the third period to send the match to overtime. An escape in SV1 was the difference in a 3-2 escape, literally.

"I don't know why everybody is booing," Cowboys head coach John Smith said right after the match. "Nobody was backing up and he (Perry) had to endure that takedown and come back and that is tough."

Perry will have to wrestle more aggressive the third time against Howe, you would think. Yes, now Perry and Howe and everybody else can think about the rubber match.

It won't be the crescendo match, but at 149 pounds the Cowboys Josh Kindig is part of a combined 16 in seeding in the final at that weight. Kindig, the 11th seed, won a decision over the 15th seed Mitchell Minotti of Lehigh 5-2.

Kindig's big scores were a double leg takedown in the second period and a reversal to start the third period. Kindig will wrestle Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern, who knocked off top seed Drake Houdashelt of Missouri.

The Cowboys clinched a fifth All-American at heavyweight when Austin Marsden scored a takedown in SV1 to beat Boise State's J.T. Felix 5-3. Marsden later lost and will now be the only Cowboy wrestling in the morning as he will battle for seventh place.

Both Cowboys 125-pounder Eddie Klimara and 141-pounder Anthony Collica lost earlier Friday, one match away from clinching All-American status.

The big points left, again, are Saturday night.

"We need to win," John Smith said when asked what it would take to win the team national championship. "We need to win because I don't think Penn State and Minnesota are going to quit winning."

"We need to come here in the morning and get some work done," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson. "We've got a lot of guys wrestling and we need to win in the morning."

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