STILLWATER — Nolan Boyd’s roller coaster ride of a wrestling season was best explained by OSU coach John Smith on Jan. 24 after the Cowboys’ dual win over Iowa State.
Boyd had pulled off an 11-9 overtime victory over the Cyclones’ Lelund Weatherspoon that night, after losing a two-point lead in the final 10 seconds of regulation. Smith said of the match: “I don’t even know what he was doing. It’s 6-2, he’s kicking the guys (butt), and all of the sudden. … ‘Boyd, what are you doing?’”
Smith went on to say Boyd just needed to let loose and start wrestling without trying to impress too many people as he battled for the Cowboys starting spot at 184 pounds.
Over the last two months of the season, the Deer Creek product has done a lot more of what Smith suggested to build a 29-11 record and an impressive enough resume to go from backup to NCAA Tournament qualifier for the national title contending Cowboys.
“I go out there and try to make sure I’m wrestling hard,” Boyd said. “I guess just part of being a freshman sometimes is you get in bad positions. It’s about being able to think more while I’m wrestling, and I think I’ve definitely grown a lot throughout the season with my wrestling smarts.”
The process of battling for the starting job with Jordan Rogers and Kyle Crutchmer weighed heavy on Boyd during the season, but it’s an experience he believes helped him improve.
“I’d say the most important thing for me has been just controlling my emotions,” Boyd said. “There’s been so many ups and downs from losing the starting spot to gaining it, or losing matches I wasn’t supposed to, or winning matches I wasn’t supposed to. I’ve dealt with all of that this year, and it’s been an emotional ride. I’ve just tried to stay steady, keep practicing, and pushing through it.