STILLWATER — For Oklahoma State wrestling, there's no such thing as moral victories.
Still, after falling to second-ranked Minnesota 16-15 on Sunday in Stillwater — OSU's second one-point loss in a week to a top-five opponent — the fifth-ranked Cowboys remained optimistic about their chances as a national title contender.
“I just know our upside is a lot greater than where we are right now,” OSU coach John Smith said. “That's not a given, though. That upside is earned, and you're going to earn it on a weekly basis. (Minnesota) is a team that I believe can win a national championship and we can judge ourselves a little bit by this.”
The Cowboys split five of the 10 matches, but were unable to earn any bonus-point victories, which proved to be the difference
“In most of our wins, we just wanted wins,” Smith said. “We didn't want more. We need to score more points. We need to start scoring after we score. That comes down to wrestling for seven minutes instead of five and a half.”
Smith knows it's not about where his team is now, but where they are in March when the postseason rolls around. Still, he says dual losses are tough to swallow regardless of the opponent or score.
“It's not a good feeling starting 1-2,” said Smith, whose team had won nine straight at Gallagher-Iba Arena coming into Sunday. “I'm not sure I've ever had a losing record through our first three matches, so it's another first for me.”
One of the positives for OSU was No. 2 Alex Dieringer's 4-2 win over No. 4 Dylan Ness at 157 pounds. Dieringer won with a takedown in sudden victory overtime, but like his coach, he was focused on the points he left off the board.