Much like they did during last season’s runner-up finish, Oklahoma State has closed the gap on the big boys of the Big Ten. Four Cowboys advanced to the Saturday night’s championship finals, giving the Pokes a serious shot at coming away with the program’s 35th national title.
They’ll enter Saturday with five wrestlers still competing, and within striking distance of Penn State and Minnesota.
Semifinals. The highs don’t get much better than this. The Cowboys were 4-0 in the round and it was absolutely massive for their chances to dethrone Penn State and top Minnesota in the team race. Much like he has all weekend, Josh Kindig (149 pounds) got things rolling with a 5-2 win over Lehigh’s Mitchell Minotti. Alex Dieringer (157 pounds) followed with a 7-4 win over Cornell’s Brian Realbuto. Tyler Caldwell (165 pounds) then put together one of his best performances of the season with a 5-0 decision over Virginia’s Nick Sulzer. Things got shaky with top-seed Chris Perry (174 pounds), but the defending national champion pulled out a 3-2 overtime win.
Wrestlebacks. OSU lost some heartbreakers in the loser’s bracket on Friday, as three Cowboys dropped a second match in two days prior to reaching All-American status. In the morning session, Jon Morrison (133 pounds) was defeated 5-4 by Central Michigan’s Joe Roth in the overtime tie-breaker. In the night session, Eddie Klimara (125 pounds) fell 7-6 in overtime to Iowa’s Cory Clark and Anthony Collica (141 pounds) lost 13-2 to Franklin & Marshall’s Richard Durso as both fell one match short of becoming All-Americans. Austin Marsden (285 pounds) was the lone Cowboy to All-American through the consolations, and will wrestle for seventh on Saturday morning.
Perry on the team race: “The team race is getting tight. I knew it. I want to win this team title. We came here believing we could, and putting four guys in the finals is something we thought we could do, but I’ll have to wrestle way better tomorrow, plain and simple.”
Marsden picking up a win for seventh would certainly help, but this team race is going to come down to the finals. Obviously the matchups will make things tough, it’s the national finals, but it’s not out of the question to see the Cowboys win three or all four finals matches. If they can’t win at least two of them, it likely won’t be enough.