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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 21-12 Victory Over No. 4 Iowa State

On the dynasty being back, young talent, Plott and 149 pounds



[Devin Wilber/PFB]



Saturday night went almost flawlessly for the Cowboys.

Fifth-ranked Oklahoma State handled No. 4 Iowa State 21-12 to stay unbeaten at 10-0 and notch its second top-5 win of the season. Less than 24 hours before that in Gallagher-Iba Arena, OSU beat No. 22 Northern Iowa 22-12. 

Here are Five Thoughts on the Pokes’ weekend and second top-5 victory.

1. This Team is Different, But Not Really

With 34 national championship team trophies set up in the lobby of GIA on Saturday to pose for pictures with, the 2024 OSU wrestling team may actually be more like Cowboy fans are used to than not.

Before accomplishing it twice, so far, this season, the Cowboys hadn’t beaten a top-5 team since a second-ranked OSU beat No. 3 Iowa 27-12 in the regular-season finale of the 2018-19 season. OSU was 1-6 against top-10 teams between that win and the start of this season. Those four seasons seemed like eternity in Greatest Dynasty in Sports time, so after the ISU win, John Smith was asked if this team was “different.”

“It’s different just from the standpoint that we don’t have to rely on one guy,” he answered. “Dustin Plott, we don’t have to rely on Dustin Plott to win yesterday. We don’t have to rely on Izzak [Olejnik] to win today. Somebody else is stepping up that doesn’t have that kind of name. That’s the difference is that you got good competitors and guys that are wrestling for each other. That’s a big part of it.”

So, yes, this OSU team is different from the last few. But those were actually the odd teams for a program that can flaunt before duals that it’s the greatest dynasty in sports and not have to stretch the truth to do so. I’ll talk more about the freshmen later, but considering what they’ve done and with Coleman Scott presumably in waiting for when Smith decides to walk away, the last four years will stay an anomaly, not become the norm.

In a time of jokes and murmurs on if programs are back, Cowboy wrestling is back.

2. Young Pups Stepped Up

And this is why I can be confident that Cowboy wrestling is back.

OSU freshmen were 3-1 against the team that Smith said would be the Cowboys’ “biggest challenge all year,” meaning freshmen provided half of OSU’s wins. The only loss from a frosh was Bryce Thompson at 174 to No. 23 MJ Gaitan in sudden victory. The dual was even sealed by a true freshman in Jersey Robb, who was a replacement at 197.

The first team to beat at least two top-5 teams in five seasons has featured four freshmen in the starting lineup nearly all season. Actually, the night before handling ISU, OSU beat No. 22 UNI with a lineup that was half freshmen, with Jordan Williams getting the nod at 149 pounds.

In the quote above where Smith talked about how somebody else is stepping up for this team, those somebodies almost every time have been freshmen.

3. ‘How About Jersey Robb?’

Speaking of young guys stepping up in big moments.

Jersey Robb, a true freshman stepping in for an injured Luke Surber at 197 pounds, earned a 15-6 major decision over No. 30 Julien Broderson that sealed the dual for his team.

“The first couple of my matches up at 197 were rough,” Robb said. “You gotta throw it behind you, move forward. Coaches believe in you, teammates believe in you. You just gotta go out and freakin’ wrestle, so that’s what I tried to do tonight.”

Bumping up from 184, Robb has filled in for Surber five times at 197 in four duals and at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Saturday night was his first dual win, but all of Robb’s dual matches were against ranked opponents. He also beat Broderson in Vegas.

“How about Jersey Robb?” Smith said. “He steps out there. He’s had enough tough matches. We’ve thrown him to some wolves.”

With Surber getting healthy and Robb exhausting his five appearances to keep his redshirt, Robb most likely won’t step on the mat again this season. But Surber is a senior, and Robb will return next season still as a redshirt freshman with four dual appearances, a dual win and two ranked wins (both against Broderson) under his belt.

Imagine Zane Flores returning next football season as a redshirt freshman after starting five games and led a game-winning drive to beat Kansas State.

The NCAA didn’t make the rule until before last season that wrestlers could compete in up to five countable dates and maintain redshirt status. Smith and Co. definitely took advantage of that rule quickly with Robb.

4. Dustin Plott Could Still Be a National Champion

I know stating that a second-ranked wrestler in the country could be a national champion doesn’t seem profound, but people tend to overreact after watching guys lose.

Plott lost to top-ranked Parker Keckeisen 12-6 after leading 5-4 at one point in the third period. The outcome was somewhat disappointing after so much hype leading up to it.

But Plott was anything but disappointing the next night. He manhandled No. 10 Will Feldkamp of ISU 17-3, a point shy of a technical fall. Feldkamp is a top-10 wrestler and was an All-American last year, and Plott made him look like a drill partner.

“He did a nice job of just bouncing back from yesterday’s loss against a good guy,” Smith said. “He’s wrestling a good guy. This guy’s good. You like to see that. That’s tough.”

Plott will most likely have to get through Keckeisen to win both a Big 12 and NCAA title, so another matchup between the two with more on the line seems inevitable. Even after the 12-6 decision, considering how Plott responded the next night and his talent level, I don’t see Keckeisen winning that matchup three times in a row.

If Plott were to go 2-1 against Keckeisen, obviously he’d rather the loss come without anything on the line. And if Keckeisen happens to beat Plott again at the Big 12 Championships, I promise he wouldn’t want to see Plott a third time to win a national title.

5. The 149-Pound Question Should Be Answered

The case of 149 pounds should be settled.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Williams and senior transfer Sammy Alvarez have been competing for the starting job at 149 since Alvarez impressed there while Williams had to miss time with a hamstring issue. When Williams returned last week, Alvarez still got the nod. Then this week, Smith said there wasn’t a long-term decision made yet and whoever went out there Friday may not be the guy who sticks.

Sometime between Smith’s comments and Friday night, though, Williams beat Alvarez in a ranking match, earning the start against UNI. In his return, Williams looked explosive and notched a 21-5 technical fall.

Alvarez still got the start against ISU, though, matching up with No. 10 Casey Swiderski. Alvarez lost 10-3 for the Cowboys’ first deficit of the dual. That could very well be the last we see of Alvarez, though.

In his final college season after transferring from Rutgers, Smith awarded Alvarez a fair shot at winning the starting job. The elder Alvarez is also less sporadic, so in a top-5 dual with a top-10 wrestler at the weight, he was probably the safest bet, while also giving him one last time to prove himself.

At Bedlam, Williams tried to flip backward out of a hold, but instead landed on his head and gave up a takedown that ultimately decided the 5-4 loss. Stunts like that seemed to have Smith hesitant on Williams. I compared Williams to Kaid Brock then. Brock was a two-time All-American and probably would have been a lot more if not for multiple injuries, so being compared to Brock is certainly not a bad thing. In Brock’s Bedlam debut, one of his bold moves ended with the defending national champion on his back for Brock’s first dual victory.

Smith said the week after Bedlam that moves like that comes from inexperience. How to hone his style and learning what best to do in situations comes with experience, though, which Williams doesn’t have a lot of yet. After how this week went, Williams should now have the 149-pound job and be able to gain that experience before the postseason arrives.




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