Cowboys Start Season With Lackluster Win

STILLWATER - Cowboy wrestling coach John Smith warned the loyal Oklahoma State wrestling fans and himself that this season and the pursuit of a fifth consecutive team NCAA national championship would not be easy. Smith, as usual, was right. In their first dual of the season the Cowboys were pretty pedestrian in their 22-9 victory over California-Davis on Sunday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Some of the results were downright surprising as one ranked OSU wrestler was upset and the Cowboys only top ranked individual struggled to a 2-1 decision. As expected, 197 pounds was an adventure as Jared Shelton got the nod to wrestle and lost to unranked Elliot Kelly of UC-Davus 4-3.

"They put us in a couple of positions where we stopped wrestling a little bit, 197 in particular. We got a couple of deep singles legs and an ankle and instead of us following through with shots I didn't think we completed any matches," Smith said of the dual. "There was just not a whole lot impressive with this first showing. I wouldn't say disappointing and nothing that shocks me either. I know where we're at. I know where we train, and we'll have to get a whole lot better from this point on."

The biggest surprise may have been that two-time defending national champion and senior leader Johny Hendricks couldn't score against unranked Dustin Noak of UC-Davis. The first period was scoreless with Noak starting down in the second. Hendricks accumulated 1:11 in riding time. In the third period Hendricks started down and quickly gained the escape and won the match with the riding time bonus for a 2-1 decision. Hendricks refused interview requests after the match, but Smith did address Hendricks match.

"I don't know if it really mattered who his opponent was today, he was going to struggle today," said the Cowboys head coach of his top-ranked 165 pounder Hendricks. "I don't know if you remember all of his first matches, but sometimes you just forget about how hard wrestling is. In the room and in ranking matches you get used to a guy and what he is going to do against you."

The one upset came at 141 pounds where the Cowboys fourth-ranked Nathan Morgan was decisioned 5-2 by eighth-ranked Derek Moore of Cal-Davis. After a first period takedown by Morgan and a Moore escape in the second period, Morgan started down in the third period. Morgan tried a tripod standup escape and Moore turned him for a three-point nearfall. Moore also turned around the riding time for the 5-2 verdict.

"That guy got out there and got after it," Smith said of Moore. "Nate did a pretty good job of fighting off a single leg. Nate has had a hamstring pull the last couple of weeks and that may have bothered him a little bit. You have a leg guy on top of you and you hit a tripod standup twice and that guy is licking his lips and he got turned twice from it."

Ranked veterans Coleman Scott at 133 and Brandon Mason at 174 each won decisions and looked fairly impressive in doing so. Mason, ranked sixth, knocked off the fourth-ranked competitor nationally in Ken Cook of the Aggies 3-0. Scott, who is ranked third, decisioned 19th-rated Omar Gaitan 8-2.

Newcomers B.J. Jackson at 149, Jared Rosholt at 285, and Tyler Shinn at 125 all won. Jackson finished his match following an injury timeout for a left knee injury that looked like he might be severe. There was no report on it afterwards, but John Smith said it would be something they would evaluate further on Monday.

Newly McSpadden, another newcomer to the lineup, at 157 pounds scored the only bonus points of the night as he followed being taken down early with five takedowns of his own and a riding time advantage for a 15-5 major decision.

"I thought Newly did pretty good slopping his way through to a major decision," Smith said of the only bonus points the Cowboys or Aggies collected on the night. "I thought his opponent was obviously exhausted out there and I though that was what helped him to appear even better."

McSpadden admitted that if someone had told him before the dual that he would be the only wrestler to score bonus points he would have questioned their sanity and wrestling knowledge.

"I would have thought they were crazy (with) me being a sophomore and making my opening debut here," said McSpadden. "Those guys have helped me step up and get the bonus points when they don't."

McSpadden, perhaps, expressed the same reaction of other Cowboy wrestlers when he said this coming Thursday against Michigan State he will be much more comfortable in the spotlight at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

"I won't worry about the crowd," said McSpadden. "Nothing is going to get to me, and I won't worry about it and everything should be great."

John Smith hopes so, and he too expects the experience to help.

"This will allow us to look at some things and allow the student-athlete to go, 'hey when he says this or he says that.' I was concerned about the last two weeks in practice, not that they weren't giving any effort, but they were a little robotic and just kind of going through the motions a little bit."

Smith is also very glad to have the 22-9 win over UC-Davis prior to the Spartans Big 10-style wrestling team making the visit to Stillwater on Thursday.

"They are a good team, a pound it team, and I'm glad we got one in before Michigan State."

Oklahoma State 22 California-Davis 9
149 B.J. Jackson (OSU) dec. Shawn Harratini (UCD) 10-4
157 Newly McSpadden (OSU) maj.dec. Jon Clark (UCD) 15-5
165 #1-Johny Hendricks (OSU) dec. Dustin Noak (UCD) 2-1
174 #6-Brandon Mason (OSU) dec. #4 Ken Cook (UCD) 3-0
184 #15 Tyler Bernacchi (UCD) dec. Jack Jensen (OSU) 7-1
197 Elliot Kelly (UCD) dec. Jared Shelton (OSU) 4-3
285 Jared Rosholt (OSU) dec. Broc Maffoa (UCD) 4-0
125 Tyler Shinn (OSU) dec. Marcos Orozco (UCD) 7-2
133 #3 Coleman Scott (OSU) dec. #19 Omar Gaitan (UCD) 8-2
141 #8 Derek Moore (UCD) dec. #4 Nathan Morgan (OSU) 5-2

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