Eight teams of up to 11 players battled in a seeding week and then a tournament format to get to this point as Team Glidden, led by senior slot receiver David Glidden, faced off with Team Ogbah, led by Big 12 Conference sack leader and Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
Associate Athletic Director for Speed, Strength, and Conditioning Rob Glass started this when he came to OSU from Florida as one of the first coaches hired by Mike Gundy. He always names the final after the college national championship contest.
The 6-4, 270-pound Ogbah has developed into quite the leader as we witnessed his intense message of pressing several of his team members for all-out effort in last week's semifinal win over Team Simmons of linebacker Ryan Simmons. Ogbah barely had to raise his voice other than to cheer late Tuesday afternoon as his team jumped out to a commanding lead in the first two events and never looked back and were never threatened by Team Glidden as they won the six stage and eight-event competition 35-11.
"We just kept working," Ogbah said of his team that included fellow defensive starters in cornerbacks Kevin Peterson and Ramon Richards, offensive guard Jesse Robinson, tight ends Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch, defensive end Cole Waltescheid, running back Sione Palelei, linebacker Justin Phillips, walk-on wide receiver Cole Neph, and walk-on quarterback Taylor Cornelius.
"We came out working from the first event and never gave up. We kept working just as hard after it was all decided. We made sure we came up with the win," Ogbah said.
Ogbah is right about his team never letting up as they went to the final event, the obstacle course, with an absolute insurmountable lead of 30-10. The first heat of the obstacle course, an event that includes bear crawling through a chute, pushing a blocking sled, a figure eight around two big rings, circling around a big blocking dummy and then sprinting home, Ogbah went himself and blew away his competition for a symbolic clinching of the championship.
As Ogbah described it started with the power events of weighted sled pull and tractor tire flip relay and both events favored the bigger team that Ogbah was captaining. On the sled pull, Jarwin won the first heat over wide receiver James Washington, linebacker Justin Phillips just barely edged older junior college transfer linebacker Devante Averette, and Cole Neph finished ahead of running back Raymond Taylor.
Defensive tackle Ben Hughes interrupted the Ogbah team streak with a win over Veatch, but Ogbah won his heat over newcomer defensive tackle Motekaia Maile and Jesse Robinson won over running back Corey Bennett. It was 5-1 and then with four points each on the tractor tire flip relays and Team Ogbah winning both, the two teams went to the first speed event with Team Ogbah up 13-1.
The 60-yard and 20-yard shuttles is where Team Glidden, hurt by some attrition this spring including the fact that Glidden is still rehabbing from off-season surgery, hoped to make up some ground.
The first 60-yard shuttle was won for Team Glidden by standout wide receiver Brandon Sheperd over sophomore starting cornerback Ramon Richards. However, Team Ogbah held their own in the event, winning four of the six heats including wins by Cole Neph, Kevin Peterson, and Blake Jarwin. The 20-yard shuttle was close to the same and the two teams went to the tug-of-war and the individual tug station with Team Ogbah leading 21-5.
Much like the tractor tire flip relay, Ogbah was able to put together two stout four-man tug-of-war teams as he joined Peterson, Palelei and Cole Walterscheid to win the first heat worth two points, and then Jarwin, Veatch, Cornelius and Robinson handled the second heat and the lead was up to 25-5.
In what was really their best showing of the afternoon, Team Glidden split the one-on-one tug contests 2-2. Defensive tackle Ben Hughes had a major size advantage in dragging Ramon Richards across the line and Devante Averette got the best of fellow linebacker Justin Phillips.
In fact, those two linebackers in a sidebar contest went head-to-head in almost every event and all of them were close finishes with Phillips winning on the sled, Averette on the individual tug, Phillips on the bag drill and also winning the obstacle course. The individual tug battle was one of the best of the day as it went both ways at several points before Averette closed it out.
Another individual tug battle that proved very competitive and very entertaining featured offensive guard Jesse Robinson working on transfer defensive tackle Motekaia Maile. Those two battled for some time before Maile lost his grip, which also constitutes a loss in the event. For the second week in a row after that individual tug Robinson was spent and needed water and some recovery time.
The score was 27-7 going to the bag drills and then 30-10 going to the obstacle course as the final was 35-11. There was a lot of spirited talk between the teams, but in the end mutual respect. After watching this there is no doubt that Emmanuel Ogbah will take up the sword as a major leader on the defensive side of the ball and he can do it by example and by sheer will.
Talking with head coach Mike Gundy after the event concluded, he said he was impressed and very encouraged with how the leadership on the team is developing and even cited one of the newest Cowboys in offensive tackle Victor Salako, who transferred from Alabama-Birmingham, as a developing leader after just about a month and a half on the squad.
Wednesday is an off day and then Rob Glass and his staff will conclude their offseason program on Thursday and Friday, turning the players back over to Gundy and the coaching staff for the start of spring practice on Monday.
(Photos for this story provided by Bruce Waterfield with OSU Media Relations)