NCAA Wrestling: Cowboys Need A Perfect Night

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Saturday morning session on the final day of the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships was busy, but unfortunately not for Oklahoma State. Despite having more finalists than any other school with four, two more than team championship contenders Penn State and Minnesota, the Cowboys had just one wrestler, heavyweight Austin Marsden, going in the medal round Saturday.

Marsden went into the third period tied with Ohio's Joe Johnson 1-1, but a takedown and a stall cost him the match for seventh place and one more team point. Johnson won it 4-2. Marsden still is one of five Cowboys to earn All-American status.

Just as Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson had said on Friday night his All-Americans wrestling early Saturday needed to win, and a number of them did. So did some of those wrestling for the Golden Gophers. Their efforts helped one of them win the 2014 NCAA team championship. Which one, we won't know until tonight.

There is a slim chance that the Cowboys can still win the team title, but it's a very slim chance. Minnesota leads the team race with 104 points, Penn State is next at 101.5, and Oklahoma State is still where they were after qualifying four into the finals on Friday night at 87.5 points.

The difference between an individual placing first and second is four points, so the Cowboys need to win all of their finals.

hey have one against a Penn State wrestler (165 pounds with Tyler Caldwell going against David Taylor) and one against a Minnesota wrestler (157 pounds Alex Dieringer against Dylan Ness). Penn State's Ed Ruth at 197 pounds and Minnesota's Tony Nelson at 285 pounds would also need to lose.

Then to tie Minnesota, the Cowboys would need to add another half point to tie and a full point to win. A fall for one of the Cowboys would results in two points, but either a tech fall with near fall points (1.5 points) or a tech fall without near fall points (1.0 points) would do. A series of those moves or major decisions could get the points needed.

The bottom line is it will take some creativity and help for the Cowboys to get there.

The other Oklahoma State finalists are Josh Kindig at 149 pounds and Chris Perry (174 points), who will meet Oklahoma rival Andrew Howe.

The NCAA Wrestling Committee is still hoping for some late drama to the team standings as for the first time this year they have ordered the matches for the championship program. The Perry-Howe Bedlam match-up at 174 pounds will lead the program off.

The other three Cowboys will all wrestle in the final three matches of the evening starting with Kindig at 149 pounds against Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern.

Oviously, if Perry and Kindig win their matches and score bonus points then the suspense heightens with 157-pounders Dieringer and Ness of Minnesota. The Championships finish with the 165-pounds match, pitting Caldwell for Oklahoma State and Taylor for Penn State. This assures either some team drama or the spotlight on Taylor, who is in the spotlight as the potential outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

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