Cowboy Wrestling Set to Compete at NCAA Tournament

Oklahoma State at the NCAA Tournament

The Cowboys begin their quest as Big 12 Champions this weekend as they travel to Columbia, Mo., to compete in the Big 12 tournament, hosted by the University of Missouri. The tournament will take place in the Hearnes Arena on March 8.

Cowboys Claim Big 12 Title

The Cowboys recorded their fifth Big 12 title this year after storming out to a 46 point lead heading into the semifinals. OSU finished the tournament with 101.5 points, 46 more than the next closest Missouri with 55.5 points. Oklahoma chipped in 51.5 points to finish third, while Nebraska and Iowa State rounded out the top five with 39.5 and 26.5 points, respectively.

Season in Review

Blessed, is what sums up John Smith's 11th season as head coach of the Cowboy wrestling team.

Oklahoma State entered the year ranked second behind defending National Champion Minnesota. But when Iowa went into Minneapolis and defeated the Gophers, OSU went to the top.

Ten times this year the Cowboys held their opponents to single digits. The closest any team came to OSU was Bedlam-rival Oklahoma. The Sooners came within seven points of OSU, but the Cowboys were without the help of two All-Americans.

Three times the Cowboys defeated teams by 35 points, and eight times they won by 25 points or more.

OSU stormed out to a 6-0 record heading into the NWCA National Duals. Three of the wins came against top-five opponents; Oklahoma, Minnesota and Iowa.

The Pokes traveled to Norman and defeated the Sooners, 23-16. OSU fell behind 16-3, but came roaring back winning the final five matches to record the victory.

The Cowboys took a 4-0 record into the new year after defeating Boise State, 27-12, in Provo, Utah.

OSU opened up the new year by traveling to Minneapolis, Minn., to take on third-ranked Minnesota. The Cowboys rolled into the Target Center and won eight of the 10 bouts en route to the 26-6 victory, their largest margin of victory since the 1991-92 season when they defeated the Gophers 48-0 in Minneapolis.

The "Dynasty Dual" highlighted the nation's top two teams with OSU and Iowa. The dual marked the first 1-2 matchup since the 1997-98 season when OSU traveled to Iowa City, and defeated the Hawkeyes, 22-18.

OSU won six of the 10 bouts en route to the 24-15 win over the Hawkeyes. Zack Esposito sparked the Cowboys to victory after using a lateral drop to pin Luke Moffitt, to put the Cowboys on top for good.

OSU strung four consecutive wins at the NWCA National Duals to capture its seventh team title. The Cowboys defeated Northern Iowa, Arizona State, Ohio State and Oklahoma before coming out with the championship.

The Cowboys remained undefeated after defeating Oregon State and Oregon the following weekend.

The Pokes tested their top ranking when they traveled to Iowa to take on Northern Iowa and Iowa State for the last road trip of the season.

Johnny Thompson and Tyrone Lewis each recorded pins to lead Oklahoma State to a 30-14 victory over Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

The Cowboys moved to 3-0 in conference after defeating Iowa State in Ames. OSU won eight of the 10 bouts en route to a 26-9 victory over the Cyclones.

OSU finished the year with three home duals, including a pair of conference match-ups with Nebraska and Oklahoma. The Cowboys recorded three falls in a 34-6 romp over the Huskers, and defeated OU 38-3 to extend their winning streak over the Sooners to nine.

The Cowboys capped off their perfect season with a 27-9 victory over No. 10 Michigan State.

Last Time Out

Oklahoma State sent a league-high nine wrestlers to the finals of the Big 12 tournament, with six of them prevailing as champions.

Johnny Thompson captured his third Big 12 title after decisioning Witt Durden, 4-1, extending his overall record against Durden to 9-0.

In their fourth match this year, Zack Esposito and Teyon Ware squared off in the finals. The true freshmen battled to a scoreless first period, Esposito scored the first points of the match with an escape to start the second.

Ware tied the score at 1-1 after scoring an escape to start the third. He then took the lead at 3-1 after recording a takedown.

Esposito cut the lead to 3-2 after recording an escape, but that was not enough as Ware went on to record another takedown to take the 5-2 decision.

Jerrod Sanders notched his first Big 12 title after defeating Travis Shufelt, 7-5. The El Reno, Okla., native took a 2-1 lead heading into the second frame, but Shufelt tied the score at 2-2 after recording an escape.

Sanders went on to hold off a comeback by Shufelt to capture the victory.

Shane Roller earned his first Big 12 title after recording two takedowns en route to an 8-5 victory over Missouri's Kenny Burleson. The Bixby, Okla., native fell behind early but took the lead at 4-2 after recording an escape and a takedown in the second.

Burleson tied the score at 4-4 after reversing Roller, but the two-time All-American garnered an escape and another takedown before recording the victory.

Chris Pendleton recorded two takedowns in the first period to take a 5-2 lead against Robbie Waller heading into the second frame.

The Lemoore, Calif., native extended his lead to 6-3 after using an escape to open the second period. Pendleton went on to hold off Waller to record his first Big 12 title.

Muhammed Lawal and Willie Gruenwald each notched their first Big 12 individual titles.

Lawal avenged a loss earlier in the year to Nebraska's Justin Ruiz after using three takedowns to record the 7-4 win.

Gruenwald notched his first title after scoring a takedown with :10 left in the match to knock off top-seeded Kevin Herron, 4-3.

Skyler Holman, Zack Esposito and Jake Rosholt all recorded second-place finishes.

In the third-place match, Tyrone Lewis recorded 11 takedowns en route to a 24-9 technical fall over Nebraska's Jacob Klein.

Last year at the NCAA Tournament

The Cowboys finished the tournament with four All-Americans, including National Champion Johnny Thompson. Tyrone Lewis and Shane Roller each recorded their second All-America status after placing third and fourth, respectively, while Skyler Holman notched his first after finishing sixth.

As a team, OSU finished in the top five for the sixth consecutive year with 82.5 points. Minnesota earned its second championship after finishing the tournament with 126.5 points, while Iowa State finished second with 104 points and a tournament-high three champions.

Oklahoma and Iowa finished third and fourth after chipping in 101.5 and 89 points, respectively.



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