Connect with us


Five Thoughts from Cowboy Wrestling’s Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Showing

On Olejnik, young talent and more



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

While most orange-shaded eyes were on Arlington this weekend, Cowboy wrestling was competing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Oklahoma State finished ninth with 78.5 team points, as Iowa State won the title with 130.5 points. The Cowboys had one individual champion in Izzak Olejnik at 165 pounds.

Here are five thoughts from OSU’s weekend in Vegas.

Olejnik is Legit

Izzak Olejnik has been wrestling in an orange singlet for less than a month and he’s already proven himself.

Olejnik, a redshirt senior, was OSU’s lone champion at 165 over the weekend, going 6-0 with a pair of falls. The undefeated weekend improved Olejnik to 11-0 on the season, and six of his wins were over ranked opponents. Not included on Olejnik’s record is an 8-2 decision over then-No. 4 Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 21.

Olejnik also reached 100 career wins over the weekend.

The expectations were there for Olejnik, who transferred from Northern Illinois, where he was a four-time NCAA qualifier and an All-American. But Olejnik has went above and beyond so far, asserting himself as the No. 2 threat in the Cowboys’ lineup behind Daton Fix early this season.

Ways to Go for Cowboys

The Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational is no easy tournament, but ninth place is also definitely not where the Cowboys’ standards are set.

The good news for OSU is that John Smith almost always structures his teams to thrive later in the season when the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments arrive. That’s especially true for this squad that’s loaded with newcomers and up-and-coming talent.

However, Big 12 foe Iowa State won the tournament with 52 more points than OSU. And the Cyclones aren’t the toughest competition in the conference, either.

The Cowboys may have been without Fix and their young talent will blossom eventually, but there still is a lot of ground to make up for OSU if it looks to upend ISU and Missouri at the Big 12 Wrestling Championships in March.

Speaking of Young Talent

To piggyback off that last thought, Tagen Jamison, Troy Spratley and Jordan Williams are all redshirt freshmen already showing what they’re capable of.

Jamison was one of three OSU wrestlers to finish on the podium, placing fifth at 141. In the fifth-place match, Jamison avenged a loss from the day before to Nebraska’s Brock Hardy, who was an All-American last year. After losing to second-seeded Hardy the day before, Jamison handled him 13-5 on Sunday.

Spratley went 3-2 in Vegas, while Williams was 2-2. Neither lost a match by more than three points, though.

All three are still less than a month into their first real college action at this level, and Jamison’s revenge loss was proof of his rapid improvement because of that experience. Spratley and Williams were both impressive during the Cowboys’ last outing at the Lindenwood Open, where both finished first.

Any one of these three have a chance to make some noise at the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments to get OSU the points it needs to stay with the likes of ISU and Mizzou, outside of guys like Fix, Plott and now Olejnik. Time will still tell just how much noise, though.

Still Seeking Answers at 157

Smith mentioned in his preseason media availability that 157 pounds was probably the Cowboys’ weakest weight to start the season and that seems to be the case early.

Daniel Manibog wrestled at the weight this weekend, going 0-2 and giving up bonus points in both losses. Jalin Harper is the other option at 157 and has the most prior success, but he finished third at the Lindenwood Open, while Manibog was second. Harper started OSU’s season opener against Bucknell and won his match 5-4.

The only other wrestler to compete anywhere at the weight this season is Manibog’s younger brother, Jeremy, who’s a freshman.

What’s Next

After two tournaments and nearly a month without dual action, the Cowboys finally get a pair of duals this weekend.

OSU will host Lehigh on Friday before traveling to Norman on Sunday for a Bedlam matchup with OU.

OSU wasn’t disappointing by all means in its season opener against Bucknell on Nov. 10, but we should definitely see a much better team this weekend. The lull in dual action may have actually worked in favor of a Cowboy team riddled with new faces.

Four Cowboys made their dual debuts in that season opener against Bucknell. Tournaments that include a rapid fire of experience with multiple matches crammed into two days could be exactly what this inexperienced OSU roster needed before a Bedlam stage in Norman.

Most Read

Copyright © 2011- 2023 White Maple Media