Wrestling Update

The latest on Teyon Ware's neck injury and an early look at who'll wrestle where in 2004.

The OU Wrestling team will have to wait and see about the status of former NCAA Champ Teyon Ware for next season, or for any season for that matter after the standout recently underwent surgery that puts his career in jeopardy.

"Teyon had a vertebrae taken out, and that is never a good thing," said OU Head Wrestling Coach Jack Spates. "I actually went with him into the consultation with the doctors thinking this is not going to happen, but after consulting with them I realized that they are a little smarter than I. It was obvious that it had to be done.

"They basically take the vertebrae out and then they took a bone out of his hip, put a piece of metal to it and fuse it to your bone. He will have a little less mobility in that part of his neck, but they project that he is going to be fine. This is not an unusual operation, but obviously you are never excited about messing around with your neck, and that is why we aren't exactly sure what Teyon's status for next year will be."

"However, Teyon is a stud and if anybody can come back next year it will be him," Spates continued. "Coming off a high ankle sprain and not having wrestled since the National Duals or the All-Star Meet, he still was an All-American this year. Heck, he was just a penality point from being back in the finals. I just have the utmost respect for him as a competitor, as a wrestler and as a person."

Wes Roberts also missed last year, but now appears healthy and ready to get back into the starting lineup next year.

The Sooners are also very happy about the prospect of having Joel Flaggert (Choctaw) back in the lineup after an injury cost him last season. Flaggert should be back as a redshirt freshman next year, and he is having great success this summer.

"At 197, Sooner fans are going to be really thrilled next season to watch a kid that we already have in the room," said Spates. "Joe Flaggert just won the University Nationals, and he beat the Big 12 Champion 6-2 in the tournament and he also pinned two time All-American Chris Streckowitz (sp) from Hofstra in the finals. Joe was undefeated and then he got hurt. He had won the Missouri Open in the freshman and sophomore division. He won the Oklahoma Open and he won the first Bedlam Dual and then he got hurt. So, he wasn't able to compete the reason of the season, but we are very high on Joe Flaggert, and we think he is going to be a major player nationally next year."

OU had a disappointing year last season, but injuries played a big role in that. If OU is healthy next season they will be a top five team in the country and one that can contend for Big 12 and national honors.

"We don't have many needs going into next year to be one of the top teams in the country," said Spates. "At 125-pounds we have Sam Hazewinkle (sophomore) who is a killer and defending All-American. At 133 Mimi Miller (sophomore) won two matches at nationals wrestling up a weight. So you have to have a lot of confidence in Mimi. Then you have Teyon (junior), a National Champion and two time All-American at 141. Then you have All-American Jeff Ecklof (sophomore) at 149. At 157 the two biggest prospects on paper are Charles Jones (recruit) who is so talented, and then Will Roe (recruit) who is coming in to push him. At 165 Wes Roberts (senior) coming back and he has been working real hard this off-season and looking real good.

"At 174 E.K Waldhaus (senior) can definitely be a All-American. At 197 Faggert can definitely be an All-American and then we have Jake Hager or two time JUCO All-American Tyler Rhodes, who was a late signee in our first signing period. Jake had knee surgery after the season and we really didn't have anybody else in the room to compete with Hager for the heavyweight spot next year. So, those two guys will compete right away for the starting spot so we have man coming in at heavyweight. If Jake doesn't rise to the challenge then Tyler will be there. We don't have many needs. If everything goes according to plan and people stay healthy, we will be very good."

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