STILLWATER — On paper, Eric Guerrero had reason for concern before his Oklahoma State wrestlers took the mat against Pittsburgh on Sunday. The No. 17-ranked Panthers would match up five rated wrestlers against the Cowboys. It would be clash of All-American candidates.
In person, those concerns were erased. But it wasn't easy. No. 2 OSU defeated Pittsburgh 26-14 at Gallagher-Iba Arena, giving the Cowboys their 10th straight victory this season, keeping their perfect record unblemished.
“That's a great team, a lot better than I think the score indicated,” said Guerrero, the Cowboys' head assistant coach. “From a technical, tactical and performance standpoint, there's quite a bit of good, a little shaky. A lot of that is critical, crunchtime wrestling. We'll continue to work on that.”
Entering the fourth match of the dual, OSU was in an 8-6 hole. To start the match, Cowboy freshman Eddie Kilmara pinned Pittsburgh's Derrick Nelson with 37 seconds left in the third period. But OSU wrestlers Tyler Dorrell (133 pounds) and Julian Feikert (141 pounds) each dropped their matches, 13-6 and 15-0, respectively.
That's when Jordan Oliver took the mat.
Oliver, the Cowboy wrestler ranked No. 1 at 149 pounds, hasn't succumbed to a two-point takedown all season. That didn't change on Sunday. He fought three hard-nosed rounds to defeat Ronnie Garbinski 14-4.
“I really can't let the dual effect how I'm going to perform out there,” Oliver said. “Of course, I knew we were down two and I always look forward to getting bonus points. But I just wanted to focus on going out there to put points on the board and getting a high intensity match going. That's the pace I like to wrestle.”
The Cowboys swept all but one of the remaining bouts. Marquee wins by top-ranked OSU wrestlers — No. 3 Tyler Caldwell (165 pounds), No. 1 Chris Perry (174 pounds) and No. 3 Alan Gelogaev (285 pounds) — provided the backbone.
Caldwell defeated No. 13 Tyler Wilps, 5-1. Perry recorded a 12-4 major decision victory against Nick Bonaccorsi. And Gelogeav edged No. 7 Zac Thomusseit, 8-3.
OSU's No. 16 Blake Rosholt nearly provided the upset of the afternoon against No. 2 Matt Wilps, but Rosholt fell in overtime, by fall (8:37) in the second tie breaker.
“It's going to be a team effort,” Guerrero said. “Great job to our leaders, I think they're leading by example. But it's not all on them. We have other capable guys that need to believe they can do the same.”
The Cowboys now prepare to face Arizona State in Tempe on Jan. 27. With less than a month until national duals and a difficult nonconference schedule ahead, the Cowboys will look to maintain their recent success.
“We're taking it one dual at a time, one week at a time,” Oliver said. “Every week we go in to see what we need to get better on and what to focus on. That's going to put us into position to win national duals and when a national title at the end of the year.”