With friendships and history aside, Caldwell and the Cowboys are poised for their third Big 12 title in four years. They remain the only ranked Big 12 team, sporting a starting lineup with eight ranked wrestlers. OSU has won three of the last four conference titles.
The loss against Minnesota? Caldwell deemed it a wake-up call.
“We were all devastated really,” Caldwell said. “We took our first loss of the season and none of us were where we wanted to be for our individual matches. I feel like I left some points out there on the mat. Overall, it's a good experience for us. We all came back hungry from it.”
Ever confident, OSU coach John Smith said Caldwell's chances of winning an individual title come down to a simple concept.
“He's got a tough weight class, but if he wrestles well, he'll win,” Smith said. “Bottom line is, this is the time of year where you put together your best matches, and you don't hope for them, you go earn them.”
Caldwell has won his last 13 matches, eight coming over ranked opponents. He admits that he wants to be wrestling his very best when the NCAA Tournament rolls around. He'll take his current stretch of success in stride.
Caldwell looks forward to the opportunity to face the Sooners at 7 p.m. Friday. You can imagine the emotions he felt back in December in Lloyd Noble Center.
“The feelings are going to be a lot different in Gallagher,” Smith said.