The surprising Oklahoma Sooners, with six wrestlers in Fridays' quarterfinals, leads heavily favored Minnesot 37.5 to 35.5 after the first day at the NCAA Championships in Albany, New York.
OU and the Golden Gophers were the only teams to have all 10 weight classes represented in the finals. Minnesota has seven wrestlers moving on to the third round. The Sooner and Gophers will fight it out for the National Championship with Friday's round likely determining which team will win.
The Sooners have a chance if they wrestle as well as they did in Thursday's opening round. Oklahoma started the tournament by winning all nine of their matches, seven by bonus points and two by falls. The strong Sooner showing helped OU take the lead after the opening session.
Oklahomas' win streak come to an end in the first match of the second round when Cornell's Travis Lee stunned Matt Ridings by pinning him with just eight seconds left in the match. Lee had been clinging to a one-point lead before the fall. However, Oklahoma bounced back with four straight wins including major decisions by Witt Durden and Robbie Waller and Nate Parker's stunning upset of Virginia Tech's highly ranked Sean Gray, 6-3. Nate Parker tallied an upset victory on his way to the quarterfinals and help OU take the lead after the first day of the finals. OU and the Golden Gophers were the only teams to have all 10 weight classes represented in the finals. Minnesota has seven wrestlers moving on to the third round.
"We wrestled hard and aggressive and that's why we were so successful this first day," said Oklahoma Head Coach Jack Spates. "There were a couple of heartbreaking losses (Ridings and Barger, for example) but, overall, I can't be more impressed with today's peformance. Nate (Parker) really stepped up. His victory over (Sean) Gray was outstanding. To come back after being three points down and take it shows he really dug deep to pull out the win."
The tournament resumes Friday maorning at 10 EST.