With the Sooners finishing in second place with 63.5 points, seven Oklahoma wrestlers punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament during Saturday’s Big 12 Championships.
Winning conference titles for the Sooners were Jarrod Patterson (125 pounds) and Kendric Maple (149 pounds).
In a matchup of past conference champions, Patterson defeated OSU’s Eddie Klimara 4-3. Tied 3-3 in the third period, Patterson rode-out Klimara over the final two minutes to build a riding time advantage of 1:02 and earn the decisive point.
Patterson was wrestling with a heavily taped right knee after suffering a sprain that caused him to miss more than a month of the season.
“I have a lot of confidence in my ability (from the top position), so I always feel good about it if a match is going to come down to that and that’s what happened tonight,” Patterson said. “(My knee) is feeling better, not quite 100 percent, but I think it will be in a week or two so I can go into nationals feeling good.”
Maple, a national champion last season, scored takedowns in the first and third periods to earn a 6-3 decision over OSU’s Josh Kindig and win his third Big 12 title.
“It’s been a long, hard season for me and I’ve dealt with a lot of adversity,” Maple said. “But I’m feeling great and the main thing is I’m ready to go now. I felt great out there tonight.”
Cody Brewer (133 pounds), Justin DeAngelis (157 pounds), Andrew Howe (174 pounds) and Travis Rutt (197 pounds) received NCAA bids at their weights with second-place finishes. Nick Lester (141 pounds) also qualified for the tournament after taking third.
With 40 at-large bids to be announced on Wednesday, the Sooners’ Clark Glass (165 pounds) is a candidate to receive a bid after finishing third.
“I definitely think we can make some noise (at the NCAA tournament),” Maple said. “If everyone stays committed, and performs to the best of their abilities, the sky is the limit for us.”
HOWE, PERRY LIVES UP TO THE HYPE
The highly anticipated matchup between OU’s top-ranked Howe and OSU’s second-ranked Chris Perry at 174 pounds was moved to the finale of the championship finals, and the match didn’t disappointed.
After piling up two minutes of riding time in the second period, Perry held off a relentless third-period effort from Howe to secure a 3-2 victory.
“I knew I could ride him and I made some adjustments on my feet that helped,” Perry said. “I’ve scouted him pretty hard, but it’s just another match right now. Win or lose, we’re both going into the national tournament No. 1 and No. 2, so it was just another match. It means something, because I love winning, but when it’s all said and done whoever wins (at the NCAA tournament) is what counts. No one is going to remember the Big 12 championship.”
Trailing 1-0 in the final period, Howe initially scored takedowns three separate times against Perry, but two of which were overturned after OSU coaches asked for an official review.
Perry narrowly fought off another promising takedown attempt by Howe over the match’s final 30 seconds to earn the one-point win thanks to his riding-time advantage.
IOWA STATE QUALIFIES FIVE, WEST VIRGINIA FOUR
Iowa State finished third in the team race and qualified five wrestlers for the NCAA tournament on Saturday, while West Virginia finished last and qualified four individuals.
With the Big 12 receiving four NCAA bids at 174 pounds, Iowa State’s Tanner Weatherman and West Virginia’s Bubba Scheffel had already secured spots before the conference tournament. Scheffel did not wrestle on Saturday, injury defaulting to Howe in the semifinals and Weatherman in the third-place match.
Cory Stainbrook (125 pounds), Mike Morales (149 pounds), and A.J. Vizcarrondo (285 pounds) were the other automatic NCAA qualifiers for the Mountaineers.
Lelund Weatherspoon (184 pounds) and top-ranked Kyven Gadson (197 pounds) took home conference titles for the Cyclones.
Iowa State brothers Gabe (141 pounds) and Michael Moreno (165 pounds) also secured spots in the NCAA tournament with second-place finishes.
Maple on teammate Howe’s loss to Perry:
“I can’t wait to see Andrew (at the NCAA tournament). That might’ve been the worst thing that could’ve happened (for his opponents), because Andrew’s going to come back so aggressive now. It’s going to be great.”