Rosholt, Hendricks Pick Up Cowboys

OKLAHOMA CITY – After a couple of losses Friday night for Oklahoma State in its first two opportunities to put wrestlers in Saturday's championship finals the Cowboy fans were sitting on their hands a little bit wondering where all the terrific wrestling karma had gone and then the roar was back in a matter of 1:08 on the clock.

With a 1-2 record in the first three semifinals involving the Cowboys, Jake Rosholt took to the mat at 197 pounds against surprising semifinalist Chris Weidner of Hofstra. Weidner scored an early takedown on Rosholt, but after an escape Rosholt got after it and flipped Weidner on his back and made short work of Weidner, scoring the fall at 1:08 in the first period. The fans in orange roared back at their rival fans in the stands and Rosholt, a two-time NCAA champion, trotted off the floor to get his rest for an attempt at a third NCAA individual title against sixthseed Phil Davis of Penn State.

"I get too nervous for Jake's matches so that is why I let Mark Branch and Pat (Smith) go out with him," said OSU head coach John Smith of Rosholt's match. "I was watching in the back (on television). It was a nice scramble and when he got him on his back he put him away. We've done that a lot this week - put people away."

The Cowboys' 285-pound Steve Mocco earned his fourth chance at a championship by scoring a neat 2-1 decision over Greg Wagner of Michigan. The second-seed Mocco has won two individual national championships - one at Iowa and one at Oklahoma State. He will face nemesis Cole Konrad of Minnesota, who has beaten Mocco twice this year.

From a team standpoint nobody seemed to know if it was clinched, but the fourth consecutive team national championship is in the bag as the Cowboys - with 109.5 points - have a 40-point lead over Minnesota with the Cowboys having more scoring punch left for Saturday.

The night off started well enough with Oklahoma State holding a 28.5-point lead over Iowa and 29-point over Oklahoma in the team standings. Coleman Scott, who lost his opening match on Thursday, had fought his way back through the consolations and earned his second straight All-American finish with an 8-3 decision over Big 12 rival Paul Donahoe of Nebraska. Scott scored takedowns in each period and finished with a riding time advantage. Later in the evening Scott would trump that win with a 7-0 decision over Tanner Gardner of Stanford to put himself in the third-place semifinals on Saturday morning.

After that it went downhill for about an hour as second-seed Nate Morgan at 133 was ridden out by Penn's Matthew Valenti in the second period, and then was taken down twice in the final period to lose an 8-3 decision. Morgan now tries for a third-place finish on Saturday morning.

Zack Esposito could have been the clincher in the team standings as the OSU senior 149-pound defending national champion was going against Ty Eustice of second-place Iowa. But Esposito, who really established the tone for the Cowboys in the opening session with a 31-second fall, struggled with a disastrous third period and fell to the consolations, losing a 7-4 decision. The Ford Center erupted in the corner as the black and gold clad Iowa fans roared with each of the three takedowns Eustice had in the final period. Esposito wrestled with his usual abandon and that only seemed to contribute in helping Eustice to another score.

"He (Esposito) kind if puts himself in situations at times where he gives his hip away for an inside trip," said Eustice of Esposito. "When he gives up his leg all you have to do is grab it."

Leave it to the hometown boy to turn things around and that is just what Edmond native Johny Hendricks did, but just barely. The second seed at 149, Hendricks was facing unbeaten (24-0) Muzatta Abdulrakmanov of American University. After being taken down in the first period, Hendricks responded with an athletic move to reverse Abdulrakmanov to tie the match. Hendricks picked up a point on a release in the second period to lead 3-2 going to the final period. Abdulrakmanov picked up an escape point in the third period, and then was given a stall warning and finally a second giving Hendricks a point. That point was the difference in a 4-3 decision, sending Hendricks to Saturday night's finals against top-seed Ryan Churella of Michigan. Hendricks beat Churella last year in the NCAA in their only career meeting with a 6-2 decision.

"I've got one more weigh in," said Hendricks, who said repeatedly he couldn't understand why his opponent was stalling with a one-point deficit. "That's my only consideration right now. Whenever I step on the mat, I'll start worrying about Churella. I'm enjoying being in the finals for the second year in a row, and this time in my hometown."

"We haven't had this kind of round in a long time," Smith said of the night on the whole. "It was a lot like a roller-coaster ride. It's just so competitive, more competitive than it has ever been."

Only Oklahoma can mathematically catch Oklahoma State and it would take a complete collapse by the Cowboys. So while it is more competitive, the name the NCAA will be putting on the trophy on Saturday hasn't changed in four years.

Oklahoma State Results
125 pounds: (6) Coleman Scott dec. (10) Paul Donahoe, Nebraska 8-3 (Scott earns All America status and continues in the consolations)
(6) Coleman Scott dec. (12) Tanner Gardner, Stanford 7-0 (Scott moves to 3rd place consolation semifinals)

133 pounds: (6) Matthew Valenti, Penn dec. (2) Nate Morgan 8-4 (Morgan drops to 3rd place consolation semifinals)

149 pounds: (2) Ty Eustice, Iowa dec. (3) Zack Esposito 7-4 (Esposito drops to 3rd place consolation semifinals)

165 pounds: (2) Johny Hendricks dec. Mazatta Abdulrakmanov, American 4-3 (Hendricks moves to the championship finals)

174 pounds: (12) Matthew Herrington, Penn dec. (11) Brandon Mason 5-1 (Mason eliminated from the Championships)

197 pounds: (4) Jake Rosholt by fall (1:0 over Chris Weidner, Hofstra (Rosholt moves to the championship finals)

285 pounds: (2) Steve Mocco dec. Greg Wagner, Michigan 2-1 (Mocco moves to the championship finals)

Team Scores
1. Oklahoma State....109.5
2. Minnesota.............69
3. Iowa......................61.5
4. Oklahoma.............61

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