NORMAN — Sunday afternoon's Bedlam wrestling dual was indicative of two programs facing very different challenges this season. Oklahoma State is a national title contender yet again, while Oklahoma is a proud program in rebuilding mode.
The second-ranked Cowboys dominated the dual, winning eight of ten matches in route to a 26-9 victory over the 10th-ranked Sooners at McCasland Fieldhouse.
The dual's turning point came at the 157-pound match with Oklahoma leading the team score 9-8. Fourteenth-ranked Oklahoma State freshman Alex Dieringer upset Oklahoma's 10th-ranked Matt Lester 8-5. To Dieringer though, it was only an upset on paper.
“It wasn't an upset … I don't think,” Dieringer said. “I think I'm the guy to beat this year.”
Dieringer isn't just confident in his own ability. He likes his team's chances as well.
While analyzing the Cowboys' national championship chances, Dieringer said, “We've got 149 to 174, actually to 184, actually no … everyone can place (at nationals) this year. I think we're going to win it all.”
The dual's most intriguing story was that of former Sooner turned Cowboy Tyler Caldwell. After using an Olympic redshirt to take a year away from school, Caldwell opted to transfer from Oklahoma to Oklahoma State.
“I tried not to let the crowd or emotions get involved in anything but I did notice it got pretty loud when I came out,” Caldwell said. “I honestly feel really relieved to have that match out of the way.”
The 165-pound match featuring the third-ranked Caldwell against Oklahoma's sixth-ranked Bubby Graham was the biggest of the afternoon. After falling behind in the first period, Caldwell was able to collect a riding time point in the third period to send the match to overtime. Following a long scramble, Caldwell scored a sudden victory takedown to earn a 5-3 win and avoid the upset.
“It was kind of ugly and a lot closer than I wanted it to be,” Caldwell said of the match, “but a win is the win.”
Like it has for much of the season, Oklahoma's lineup featured four freshmen who got their first taste of Bedlam on Sunday.
“Nothing can take away the sting of losing a dual like that, but this is not unfamiliar territory to me,” Oklahoma coach Mark Cody said. “I've been in this situation before with building a program, you're going to have highs and lows.”
The Sooners' most impressive performance came from top-ranked Kendric Maple (9-0), who remained undefeated at 141 pounds with a pin over the Cowboys' Julian Feikert.