NCAA Wrestling Tournament: OSU excited about 'home-mat' advantage

The well-traveled Cowboys hoping to have many orange-clad fans in the Chesapeake Energy Arena stands this weekend.
by Trent Shadid Published: March 17, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith watches 174-pound wrestler Chris Perry takes down Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman at a wrestling dual between Oklahoma State and Iowa State at Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater on January 24, 2014. Photo by KT King/For the Oklahoman
Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith watches 174-pound wrestler Chris Perry takes down Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman at a wrestling dual between Oklahoma State and Iowa State at Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater on January 24, 2014. Photo by KT King/For the Oklahoman

In pursuit of its 35th national title this weekend, the Oklahoma State wrestling program is looking forward to having the support of a largely orange crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena when the NCAA Championships begin on Thursday.

The Cowboys have all 10 starters in the tournament and are widely considered as serious championship contenders along with Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota.

“They choose the locations a couple years in advance, so it's something we've kind of been waiting on for a couple of years,” said OSU’s Chris Perry, who is the No. 1 seed at 174 pounds. “Getting to wrestle in Oklahoma City is a special thing. We only have a one-hour drive, which is nice. We're used to driving six or seven hours or flying somewhere. It's awesome, and I hope we have a big crowd like we did in 2006 when they had nationals here. We're going to use that to our advantage.”

After competing in six different states throughout the season, including two trips to Pennsylvania, the Cowboys have had the luxury of spending the last month competing in state.

“We've traveled all over the country this year,” said coach John Smith. “This whole month we've been able to stay home, with the Big 12 (Tournament) being down in Norman and of course the championships being in Oklahoma City. It's an exciting time. Having it right here in our backyard is nothing but a benefit.”

ONLY FOUR UNBEATENS HEADING TO OKC

After a season full of upsets, only four wrestlers remain unbeaten heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Edinboro's Mitchell Port (141 pounds) will bring a 26-0 record to Oklahoma City, Penn State's David Taylor (165 pounds) is 29-0 and Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock (184 pounds) enters at 28-0. All three are the top seeds in their weight class.

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by Trent Shadid
Copy Editor
Trent Shadid is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Weatherford, Okla., and attended Weatherford High School. Before joining The Oklahoman, he spent two seasons as an assistant wrestling coach at Weatherford High...
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