The second ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys will make the trip up to St. Louis this week to compete for their 35th overall national championship at the 2017 NCAA National Championships being held at the Scottrade Center with action taking place Thursday through Saturday. Head coach John Smith has led the Cowboys to five NCAA titles and has coach 31 individual champions and 117 All-Americans since taking the program over in 1991-1992. Cowboy wrestlers have combined to win 141 NCAA individual titles and 450 All-America honors through the years, far outnumbering the second-place totals held by Iowa who have had 80 champions and 318 All-Americans.
The Cowboys, one of only two teams in the field, the other being North Carolina State, will have wrestlers at every single weight class. The Cowboys posted a historic regular season campaign, going undefeated at 14-0 for the first time since 2005 and the 46th time in school history. During the regular season, Oklahoma State amassed eight wins of 30 points or greater. The team, coming off their 51st conference title earlier this month, is very confident in the performance they can put on this week. And considering the fact that the Cowboys have a wrestler in every weight class in the top 12, they will also have a legitimate chance to have all the guys make All-American status. But when asked about the excitement going into nationals after an exciting finish at the Big 12 championships, John Smith tried to put into perspective, “It reminds you of what you did in your season.” Smith said, “Whatever you do at the end of the year, it’s not always a reflection of your season. But for wrestling, it’s pretty much, you know, you get to the NCAA Championships, and you judge what you’ve done the whole year on how you perform at that tournament.”. Coach Smith also said “I’ve been to a lot of these championships and the key is focusing on a bulletproof attitude of great performance and don’t accept anything less.”.
John Smith returned 2016 NCAA Champion at 141 pounds Dean Heil, along with All-Americans Nolan Boyd, Anthony Collica and Joe Smith from an NCAA runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships in Madison Square Garden last season. He also returns Kyle Crutchmer, who sat out a majority of last season due to injury. Crutchmer, who has contributed heavily to the Cowboy’s success this season, is very excited for the chance to compete for an individual and team championship. “The energy’s great.” said Crutchmer, “We have a chance to win a title. This past couple of weeks, training’s been great. We had a good showing at Big 12’s. I still don’t think you’ve seen the best OSU team yet. I think this week, with the way we’ve prepared, with the way we’re ready, I think you’re going see the best OSU team.”.
And asked about going back to nationals as a senior and for the first time since his sophomore year, “I’m excited. It’s just nationals no matter what.” said Crutchmer, “I’ve got a seven seed so I just want to end my career with a bang. I’m just excited for the opportunity and one more go around with my teammates.”.
Individually, Oklahoma State has all 10 starters ranked in each of the four major national polls as well. Returning NCAA Champion 141-pounder Dean Heil remains at No. 1 in all four of the major polls. Aside from Heil, six of the other Cowboy starters received top-eight rankings from Intermat, including a number 3 ranking for Kaid Brock at 133, a second-place ranking for Anthony Collica at 149, a fifth-place ranking for Joe Smith at 157, a fifth-place ranking for Nolan Boyd at 184, a seventh-place ranking for Preston Weigel at 197 and a sixth-place ranking for Austin Schafer at HWT. Nick Piccininni, 125, is ranked ninth while senior Kyle Crutchmer is also ranked ninth at 174. Chandler Rogers at 165 is ranked tenth.
The first round of wrestling will take place on Thursday morning and the second round will take place that evening. The third round will take place Friday morning and the fourth round will take place that evening. And the championship matches will take place on Saturday evening. Every match of the NCAA Championships will be broadcast on ESPN3. You can watch the morning sessions live on ESPNU, while the primetime sessions will be broadcast on ESPN. You can also follow the action online through live results and play-by-play on www.trackwrestling.com.
THESE ARE THE SEEDS AND MATCHUPS FOR THE COWBOYS
125: (8) Nick Piccininni 22-6 vs. Elijah Oliver (IND) 14-8
133: (3) Kaid Brock 25-2 vs. Scott Delvecchio (RUT) 20-13
141: (1) Dean Heil 27-0 vs. Brock Zachert (CLAR) 21-3
149: (2) Anthony Collica 20-2 vs. Cole Mendenhall (WYO) 29-8
157: (5) Joe Smith 11-4 vs. Alex Griffin (PUR) 24-13
165: (9) Chandler Rogers 20-6 vs. Andrew Fogarty (NDSU) 22-11
174: (7) Kyle Crutchmer 18-5 vs. Matt Reed (OU) 12-11 OR Jake Residon (SIUE) 19-11
184: (4) Nolan Boyd 21-4 vs. Hunter Ritter (WISC) 19-14
197: (6) Preston Weigel 18-5 vs. Marcus Harrington (ISU) 9-11
285: (6) Austin Schafer 22-1 vs. Jere Heino (CAMP) 22-7