March 7, 2013
By Taylor Miller
Jon Morrison is hoping to finish the 2012-13 wrestling seasons with a few titles under his belt, and it all starts this weekend.
Morrison, a junior for the Cowboys, spent the last few years wrestling at the lightest collegiate weight class, 125 pounds, but this year, he decided it was time to move up. The weight change was made possible after senior Jordan Oliver moved from the 133-pound spot to 149 pounds.
“I was really struggling with my weight at 125 pounds, but it was something that I needed to do to make the team and help the team,” Morrison said. “With Jordan at 133, my spot in the line-up was 125. I didn’t feel like I had my normal strength, and I was having to focus too much on cutting weight and not enough on technique and improving in the wrestling room.”
Morrison compiled a 39-18 record at 125 pounds his freshman and sophomore seasons. Projected to have a great freshman postseason showing in 2011, he was the No. 1 seed at the Big 12 Championships and a No. 9 seed at the NCAA tournament, but a leg injury interfered, leaving him without a single win at either event.
In 2012, he produced a third-place finish at the Big 12 tournament and made his second-consecutive NCAA appearance. He also notched quality wins over ranked opponents.
But this year has been a little different. Morrison has made himself a national presence, spending most of the season ranked in the top-eight.
The Orland Park, Ill., native said it’s all thanks to his newfound comfort at 133 pounds.
“I feel like going up a weight class has helped me a lot, and I have improved a lot,” Morrison said. “I’ve dropped some close matches, but I’ve turned some of those the other way later in the year.”
Morrison enters postseason competition ranked No. 6 in the nation and toting a 20-6 overall record. Of his 20 wins, nine come with bonus points attached, which is the most he has earned in a single season.
The junior has also knocked off six ranked opponents so far this season. He avenged early season losses to then-No. 6 Nathan McCormick of Missouri and then-No. 5 Chris Dardanes of Minnesota en route to winning the 133-pound crown at the Southern Scuffle in early January.
“It took me longer than I wish it would have but letting everything that coaches say really started to sink in and I started taking it to heart,” Morrison said. “Just things like what you do every day in the wrestling room is going to define how you perform in matches. I feel like I finally understood that this year, and it makes a world of difference for me.”
He said the key to his improvement starts in the wrestling room, where he has 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott by his side.
“It’s unbelievable to have one of the best wrestlers in the world at my weight and to be able to pick his brain every day,” he said. “I see what he does. Obviously I can’t do everything Coleman does because we aren’t the same wrestler, but the things I see him do makes me think, ‘Wow I can really use that.’ It’s nice to have him three feet away in the wrestling room and I can just ask him for help. I’m really lucky to have that. He has been a huge help to me.”
Not only has Morrison noticed a difference in his wrestling, but Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith has also taken notice.
“I think his performance this season has been really consistent,” Smith said. “He’s been consistent in the room. He’s probably one of my hardest workers. His journey over the last few seasons has led to him becoming a better wrestler. He’s never accepted his shortcomings in the past. That’s really helped him this year. I see a lot of consistency, and when you see consistency, great things come at the end. For Jon Morrison, I think we’re going to see some great things.”
This weekend Morrison and his teammates will compete at the Big 12 dual finals, an all-day event on Friday starting at 11 a.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Then on Saturday, Morrison will seek his first Big 12 individual title. He said he thinks winning a conference title will take him one step closer to his dream—becoming an NCAA champion.
“I’ve never won a Big 12 title, so it is obviously a big stepping stone,” Morrison said. “It’s really just a matter of going and competing in every match. An NCAA title is something I have been dreaming about since I was 10 years old. It’s one of the ultimate pinnacles of wrestling. It’s why I go in the wrestling room every day and why I get up for practice because if you win that, it is all worth it. I really think with just a few minor adjustments, I am peeking for the NCAA tournament, and I’m as good as anyone in the country.”