Oct. 27, 2009
The 2009-10 season could be the start of something big for the Oklahoma State wrestling team.
Head coach John Smith has brought a tremendous amount of potential into the Cowboy program, as eight different Fargo champions go at it in the OSU wrestling room on a daily basis. Not counted in that total is two-time All-American and 2008 Big 12 heavyweight champion Jared Rosholt.
Perhaps the best word to describe the Pokes this year is “new”. A preseason look at possible lineup combinations would indicate that no more than four of OSU’s 10 weight classes will look the same as last season. Jamal Parks returns at 141 pounds, Neil Erisman at 157 pounds and Rosholt is back at heavyweight. Additionally, Luke Silver returns at 149 pounds but has stiff competition from newcomer Albert White for the starting spot.
An additional three returners are debuting at new weight classes, with Chris Notte moving from 133 pounds to 125 pounds, Clayton Foster moving from 197 pounds to 184 pounds and Chris McNeil moving from 184 pounds to 174 pounds.
It can be argued that Oklahoma State redshirted its two most dynamic wrestlers last season in 133-pounder Jordan Oliver and 197-pounder Alan Gelogaev, but the redshirts come off this year and those two are part of the optimism surrounding this year’s team. Additionally, 165-pounder Alex Meade also becomes active after redshirting a year ago.
A pair of transfers into the OSU program are also expected to provide a boost, with 149-pounder Albert White coming in from Northern Iowa Area CC and 174-pounder Mike Benefiel coming in from Northwestern University. Both were Fargo champions and highly-touted recruits during their junior days.
A weight class-by-weight class breakdown:
Chris Notte is the clear-cut starter here after moving down from 133 pounds, where he was the 2009 Big 12 runner-up and an NCAA qualifier. The Riverton, N.J., native was 27-9 last season with a 16-2 record in duals. He was a perfect 4-0 in Big 12 duals. Notte began last year as an unknown commodity, but moved into the starting lineup in December and never looked back. He is one of the leaders in the Oklahoma State locker room. Notte is a key figure for OSU this year, as he is the Pokes’ only 125-pounder with varsity experience. Other 125-pounders on the roster include redshirt freshman Drew Partain, who was 12-6 last year in open tournaments, junior Andre Taylor and a crop of true freshmen led by Jon Morrison (2007 Fargo champion from Orland Park, Ill.) and Ladd Rupp (a four-time Oklahoma high school state champion). Look for Morrison and Rupp to redshirt this year.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Oliver was a terror in the OSU wrestling room as a true freshman last year and is one of the more intriguing figures in all of college wrestling this year. Oliver took the bronze medal at the FILA junior world championships this past summer and was honored as the outstanding wrestler at the U.S. junior freestyle championships as well. The 2007 Fargo champion is a takedown specialist who has enjoyed a high level of success throughout his career to this point and all indications show that trend continuing as he moves forward. While Oliver will likely get his share of headlines this season, he has steady competition in the wrestling room from senior Tyler Shinn, who has logged 31 dual starts during his OSU career and is a two-time NCAA qualifier. Shinn was the Cowboys’ starter last year before having his season cut short due to injury in December. He is more than capable of starting this year.
The clear-cut starter at 141 pounds is sophomore Jamal Parks. While the Tulsa Union HS graduate proved himself to be a solid Big 12 wrestler in his first year as a starter last season, there is still room for improvement. He was 29-10 as a redshirt freshman in 2008-09, including a 16-6 record in duals. His best win came over then-No. 6 Mike Thorn of Minnesota in Minneapolis and he ranked second on the team with 51 takedowns. Redshirt freshman Jake Peck will provide added depth when he cuts from 149 to 141 at the semester break. Sophomore Luke Ashmore is at this weight class as well.
Perhaps the most interesting weight class for Oklahoma State this season is 149 pounds, where the starter returns in sophomore Luke Silver, but newcomer Albert White will challenge him immediately for the top position. Silver was 18-15 a year ago with a 6-11 dual match record. White, who may be the strongest Cowboy pound-for-pound, brings very impressive credentials with him to Stillwater. A 2006 Fargo champion, he was 200-4 during his high school career and won a junior college national title as a freshman before redshirting the 2008-09 season to allow himself three years of eligibility at OSU. While Silver and White may get most of the attention, junior Quinten Fuentes is capable of stepping in as well. Fuentes has 15 dual starts under his belt and is perhaps the most proficient Cowboy when it comes to getting pins.
Coming off a breakthrough season in 2008-09, junior Neil Erisman is one of the leaders in the Cowboy wrestling room. He was 32-11 last year with 12 dual match wins and is a candidate for All-America honors this year. Erisman went from being a backup to nearly an All-American last year, as he started the year behind senior Newly McSpadden, but was too good of a talent to leave on the bench. He was promoted to the role of starter for the Cowboys’ dual at Minnesota and never relinquished that position. Erisman is joined at the 157-pound weight class by newcomer Alex Munoz, who was 10-11 competing in open tournaments while at the University of Pittsburgh last year.
Redshirt freshman Alex Meade is the likely starter for the Cowboys at 165 pounds, but don’t count out senior Kevin Wainscott. A sought-after prospect coming out of the Delaware prep ranks two years ago, Meade went 19-2 as a redshirt last year with 13 of his 19 wins coming with bonus points attached. He won the Missouri Open and the Loper Open and was the runner-up at the Oklahoma Open. Meade beat teammate Neil Erisman in the title bout at the Loper Open. Erisman went on to finish the season ranked in the top 10 nationally, so Meade has shown flashes of being able to wrestle at a very high level. As for Wainscott, he is a veteran who enters his fifth year in the Cowboy program. He has not seen consistent duty as a starter, but has taken the mat for nine dual matches during his career. Other 165-pounders on the roster include talented true freshman Dallas Bailey (a four-time Oklahoma high school state champion), redshirt freshman Joe Ali and freshman Cade Draper.
Another interesting weight class for OSU is 174 pounds, where Chris McNeil will get the first crack at being the starter. At the semester break, however, Northwestern transfer Mike Benefiel becomes eligible to compete and he is more than capable of challenging McNeil for that starting spot. McNeil provided Oklahoma State with one of its best storylines last year when he stepped into the starting lineup for the Big 12 Championships and placed fourth in the 184-pound bracket to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships. McNeil wasn’t a starter for the majority of the year, but made the most of the opportunity that he earned. McNeil will need that same kind of resolve to hold off Benefiel, a 2007 Fargo champion who was one of the top recruits in America when he came out of the prep ranks. This past summer, Benefiel showed he remains a threat by winning the 79-kilogram bracket at the ASICS University National Championships. Adding quality depth at 174 pounds is junior Kyle Griffin, who was 10-4 last year and has some dual match experience. Health is a concern for Griffin entering the season, however.
A mainstay in the Oklahoma State lineup the last two years at 197 pounds, Clayton Foster moves to 184 pounds for his junior campaign. Foster was 29-7 overall and 20-2 in dual matches in 2008-09 with six wins over ranked opponents. Yet another Fargo champion in the OSU stable, Foster led the Cowboys with 60 takedowns and 19 bonus-point wins last season and is a legitimate All-America candidate this year. Foster is the clear-cut starter at this weight class, but talented true freshman Chris Perry is waiting in the wings. A junior national freestyle champion himself, Perry won four Oklahoma high school state titles during his time at Stillwater HS. Look for Perry to redshirt this season. Rounding out OSU’s group of 184-pounders is redshirt freshman Elliott Hellwege.
What is it about Alan Gelogaev that has everyone buzzing about him going into his debut season? Is it his pedigree? A native of Moscow, he trained five years under Russian wrestling legend Buvaisar Saitiev in Siberia before moving to the United States, where he is now mentored by six-time world champion John Smith. Is it that he pinned 2008 U.S. Olympian Andy Hrovat when the two met at the New York Athletic Club Open? Regardless, Gelogaev has been one of the most talked-about figures in college wrestling this preseason and he will be turned loose in 2009-10. Of course, all of his success to date has come in the freestyle ranks and there may be a transition period for him in adjusting to collegiate-style wrestling. Gelogaev is dynamic on the mat and if his performance in the OSU wrestling room is any indication, he will be in the mix for championships during his collegiate career. Though true freshman Zach White is the only other 197-pounder listed on the roster, there are other options at this weight class as 184-pounder Elliott Hellwege is a candidate to move up.
Senior Jared Rosholt is on the very short list of NCAA title favorites at 285 pounds going into the season. He was ranked No. 1 nationally for most of last year before placing third at the NCAA Championships. A two-time All-American, Rosholt is without question the most decorated active Cowboy, but missing from his career resume is a national title. Rosholt was 35-5 a year ago and has 91 career victories to his name, including 26 wins over ranked opponents. For Rosholt, the 2009-10 season will be about standing atop the NCAA podium at the end of the year. Redshirt freshman Tyson Yoder (16-9 record in open tournaments last year) is his primary backup, with true freshmen Blake Rosholt and Dalton Salisbury in the Cowboy wrestling room as well.
John Smith Breaks Down OSU’s Weight Classes
Likely starter: Chris Notte
John Smith says: “Chris Notte is a senior, but he’s moving down to 125 pounds for the first time. There may be an adjustment period for him but he’ll get comfortable once he gets his weight established. One thing for sure is that he’ll feel a lot more powerful at 125 when his weight adjusts. Guys like Andre Taylor and Drew Partain are solid backups at this point. They’ll need to prove a lot more before they move into the starting spot. Jon Morrison and Ladd Rupp will definitely be going into a full redshirt year.”
John Smith says: “Several people have slotted Jordan Oliver as the starter, but we do have Tyler Shinn here as well. He is a senior this year. Obviously, Jordan had a good redshirt year and a good summer wrestling freestyle. As he becomes disciplined with his weight, he will be a bear at 133. I feel comfortable that we’ll see both guys wrestle for us this season. Tyler Dorrell and Ricky Dellagatta are here as well. J.J. Goblet will definitely redshirt.”
Likely starter: Jamal Parks
John Smith says: “Jamal Parks comes back after wrestling every match for us last year. He was up-and-down last season and what we’re looking for out of him is consistency. I have seen a much better attitude from him so far and the hope is that wrestling with a year of experience, he places high expectations on himself and makes that a priority. Jake Peck will start at 149 pounds but we hope he will be able to make the move to 141 pounds. He may be caught between weights, but I love his attitude. I love his will and I love his determination.”
John Smith says: “Luke Silver is our returning starter here. He had a full year, but he struggled. He was so small last year that it was difficult to finish matches. It’s not an excuse, it’s just what happened. He was too small. I have seen him grow and get bigger during the summer. The year of experience that he has will help. Albert White comes in this year from junior college and will make things interesting. We have great depth here. Quinten Fuentes has been a starter for us at times, but needs to reach another level before we consider him as a starter at this point.”
Likely starter: Neil Erisman
John Smith says: “Neil Erisman is in his junior year now. He had a full year of experience last season. We expect him to challenge anybody and everybody this year. Alex Munoz wrestled as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh last year. He will likely get a full redshirt here this year.”
Likely starter: Alex Meade
John Smith says: “Alex Meade is a redshirt freshman and he appears to be the possible starter. He had a pretty good redshirt year and a good summer in freestyle as well. He needs to be more disciplined and balanced before he can be competitive at this weight class. We could see Kevin Wainscott at this weight second semester. He’ll attempt to go at 174 pounds to start and could move down if it doesn’t look like he’ll be in the starting rotation. Dallas Bailey, Cade Draper and Joe Ali are here as well. Bailey and Draper I’m sure will have a full redshirt year.”
John Smith says: “At the beginning of the season, the only choices we’ll have here are Chris McNeil and Kevin Wainscott. One of those two will be the starter. Mike Benefiel won’t be eligible until the second semester starts. This is a weight class where we hope to be more competitive than we have been recently. Kyle Griffin is injured going into the season and at this point, it doesn’t look like he’ll be completely healthy this year. Darnell Bortz will have a full redshirt year.”
Likely starter: Clayton Foster
John Smith says: “Clayton Foster moves down from 197 pounds to 184 pounds this year. There will be an adjustment period for him, but he’ll feel like this has always been his true weight as he wrestles more at 184. I’m excited for him and for this season. I think it’s going to be a good year for him. I like Elliott Hellwege. He needs experience and he could become a solid contributor. Chris Perry will definitely redshirt.”
Likely starter: Alan Gelogaev
John Smith says: “Alan Gelogaev needs to learn the collegiate style of wrestling. He grew up his whole life in freestyle. He will have to adjust and be patient with his development. I’m excited about watching him. I like that he challenges me technically. He likes to learn and focus on his skill, which is very exciting for me as a coach. We’re a little thin at this weight class but Zach White is here as well.”
Likely starter: Jared Rosholt
John Smith says: “Jared Rosholt is a two-time All-American for us and now he’s a senior. He has had a great career when you consider where he started and where he is now. He came in as a small 215-pounder, but now he’s a healthy 255 pounds. There has been a lot of work on his part. The difference between being an All-American and winning an NCAA title for him will be managing adversity. That will be the key for him this year. I love his work ethic right now and I’m excited about his senior season.”