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OSU Wrestling: Breaking Down and Predicting Each Cowboys’ Bracket in Big 12 Championship

What does each Cowboys’ path to a Big 12 title look like?



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

With brackets for the Big 12 Wrestling Championship released, Oklahoma State wrestlers now know the path ahead of them to claim a conference title this weekend in Tulsa.

As for the team race, with no program getting more than two top seeds, one underdog making an unexpected run or a top dog notching bonus points could be the difference in which team is crowned Big 12 champ on Sunday night.

Here’s a breakdown of every bracket in the Big 12 Wrestling Championship, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday inside the BOK Center. You can see all the brackets here.

125: No. 2 Troy Spratley

Spratley may be the 2 seed here, but he might actually be the favorite to win the title at 125 pounds.

Although Missouri’s Noah Surtin got the top seed, Flo actually has Spratley at No. 1 in its Big 12 power rankings for 125, one spot ahead of Surtin. Surtin put together a stellar 14-2 campaign in the regular season, but one of those losses was a 4-1 sudden-victory decision to Spratley in a dual at Columbia. Spratley winning this weight for the Cowboys over a Tiger could prove to be a huge swing in the team race for OSU to end Mizzou’s two-year reign.

Spratley’s two conference losses came from South Dakota State’s Tanner Jordan and Wyoming’s Jore Volk. Fortunately for Spratley, both Jordan and Volk are on the other side of the bracket, so he wouldn’t see either unless it’s in the finals or in the consolation bracket. One of them would need to upset Surtin, who has beaten both of them, to get to the finals.

On Spratley’s side of the bracket, the biggest challenger will most likely be No. 3 Stevo Poulin of Northern Colorado, who is 12-2 this season. Spratley and Poulin have never met before.

First, though, Spratley has to avoid upsets in his first postseason action. He gets a bye in the first round before making his postseason debut against the winner of No. 7 Jett Strickenberger of West Virginia and Air Force’s Tucker Owens. Spratley hasn’t wrestled either of them, as Strickenberger didn’t appear when OSU faced the Mountaineers.

Prediction: I’ll be shocked if Spratley isn’t a finalist, and though he needed sudden victory to beat Surtin last time, I’d still predict Spratley to begin his chances of becoming a four-time Big 12 champion.

133: No. 1 Daton Fix

Fix is OSU’s only top seed, and like he finished his career in Gallagher-Iba Arena two weeks ago, Fix has also never lost at the Big 12 Championships. Another perfect weekend in Tulsa would make Fix the first five-time champion in Big 12 history, as long as Iowa State’s David Carr doesn’t accomplish the feat first Sunday night.

Fix may also be OSU’s best chance at a plethora of bonus points to help in that tight team race. Despite being the top seed, Fix doesn’t get a first-round bye, but that only means an extra chance at more bonus points against North Dakota State’s Fernando Barreto. Next, Fix would wrestle No. 8 Garrett Ricks of Wyoming, who didn’t wrestle when the Cowboys met the Cowboys in a dual early this season.

Iowa State’s Evan Frost is the 2 seed at 133. Fix handled Frost in an 11-3 major decision when the Cyclones visited GIA for a dual. Fix hasn’t seen third-seeded Dominick Serrano of Northern Colorado this season, though.

Prediction: Fix becomes a five-time Big 12 champion in front of *basically* his hometown. Accomplishing that feat and racking up bonus points also earns Fix outstanding wrestler honors.

141: No. 2 Tagen Jamison

Just like Spratley, Tagen Jamison is also a 2 seed who beat the top guy at his weight with a takedown in sudden victory, 4-1.

Iowa State’s Anthony Echemendia got the top spot after going 16-4 in the regular season. He edged out Jamison, who is 18-6. Jamison has only one conference loss, though, to Northern Iowa’s Cael Happel, 4-2. Happel, at 17-6, is the 3 seed on the same side of the bracket as Jamison, meaning Jamison will most likely need to avenge that loss to wrestle for the title.

But first, Jamison will get a Bedlam matchup against OU’s Kaden Smith in the first round. He would then get the winner of No. 7 Haiden Drury from Utah Valley and North Dakota State’s Gavin Drexler. Jamison will likely get Happel or No. 6 Josh Edmond of Mizzou in the semis.

Prediction: Maybe I’m sipping too much orange Kool-Aid, but I see Jamison being OSU’s third straight finalist. He has a tough road, though, in his first-ever postseason action, so I wouldn’t put money on Jamison winning a title this weekend.

149: No. 4 Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is the reason I almost excluded predictions from this piece of content. This redshirt freshman in his first collegiate postseason is an absolute wildcard. My future self could tell me now that Williams wins a Big 12 title, and I wouldn’t need convincing. I could also be told Williams went 1-2, and I wouldn’t be shocked.

Williams was in and out of OSU’s lineup for a month of the season as he competed for the 149-pound job with Rutgers transfer Sammy Alvarez. Williams ultimately won the job but has been rather inconsistent all season. Williams did look stellar in his most recent outing, though.

Williams get a bye in the first round as he awaits the winner of No. 5 Alek Martin of South Dakota State and California Baptist’s Dayne Morton. Williams pinned Martin when they met in a dual at GIA. He would then most likely get top-seeded Casey Swiderski of ISU with a spot in the finals on the line. Williams didn’t start when OSU hosted the Cyclones, but Swidersk beat Alvarez 8-2 in Alaverz’s final appearance of the season.

OU’s Willie McDougald is the 2 seed and has beaten Williams twice this season. Williams has never met 3 seed Ty Watters of WVU.

Prediction: Here goes nothing. Even with his youth and inconsistency, I still predict Williams to end up on the podium, most likely in third or fourth place. But don’t be too surprised if Williams notches an upset and is wrestling Sunday night.

157: No. 3 Teague Travis

When this season started, 157 seemed to essentially be an open weight for the Cowboys, but Travis has provided his team with even more heat here.

Travis bumped up from 149 and has been 11-2 since the move, earning the 3 seed at 157 pounds. Travis’ only conference loss at the weight is to 2 seed Ryder Downey of Northern Iowa, 4-1. The only other top-five competitor Travis has seen this season is No. 5 Brock Mauller of Mizzou, who Travis beat 4-2.

Northern Colorado’s Vinny Zerban is a force at the top of this weight, though, at 21-0.

Travis doesn’t need to worry about Zerban yet, though. He has California Baptist’s Chaz Hallmark first, then No. 6 Cael Swensen of South Dakota State. Travis beat Swensen 4-1 with a takedown in sudden victory. With two wins, Travis would likely get a rematch with Downey in the semis.

Prediction: Wrestling guys bigger than him hasn’t seemed to faze Travis yet, but this will be his first time at 157 in a tournament setting. I think highly of Travis and the way he’s stepped up at 157, but this will be a challenging week for the redshirt sophomore. Regardless, he’ll find himself on the podium, at least. Not sure his match with Swensen is close this time, and I also don’t think Downey beats him again. Give me Travis trying to hand Zerban his first loss in the finals.

165: No. 4 Izzak Olejnik

This is the toughest weight in the Big 12, and it’s not even close. This bracket includes two-time NCAA champion Keegan O’Toole of Mizzou, and that’s not even who won the conference title last year. O’Toole, two weeks before winning a second national title, was pinned by Iowa State’s David Carr in last year’s 165-pound Big 12 final. Carr and Fix will be racing to become the Big 12’s first five-time conference champion this weekend.

And now enter Izzak Olejnik, who is 21-4 in his first season at OSU after transferring from Northern Illinois, where he was a two-time MAC champion and that conference tournament’s most outstanding wrestler last year. Even with that resume, Olejnik is the 4 seed, having lost to each of the guys seeded above him, including No. 3 Peyton Hall of WVU.

Olejnik will get a bye to kick off his first Big 12 Wrestling Championship before getting the winner of No. 5 Giano Petrucelli of Air Force and Northern Colorado’s Derek Matthews. A win there will likely get Olejnik a date with O’Toole, who beat Olejnik 5-1 in a dual this season. Even if Olejnik upsets O’Toole, though, he’d then probably have to avenge another loss from Carr or Hall to win the title.

Prediction: If Olejnik was at almost any other weight with his talent, he’d most likely be the favorite. But what a gauntlet he’s gotten himself into. Olejnik is still good enough to get on the podium here and even beat Hall to get third. However, an O’Toole-Carr rematch seems inevitable here.

174: No. 3 Brayden Thompson

Unlike the 165-pound bracket that’s loaded with favorites, Brayden Thompson is in the midst of a wide-open race at 174.

Thompson earned the 3 seed after going 9-8 as a true freshman. Three of Thompson’s losses have come in his last three outings, though. One of those losses was to OU’s Tate Picklo, who got the 6 seed here. That shows you there how open this bracket is.

If Picklo wins his first-round matchup, then that’s who Thompson will make his Big 12 tournament debut against. Thompson did beat Picklo the first time they met with a 9-0 major decision before the loss in their most recent meeting. If Thompson wins the grudge match, it would most likely set up another rematch with ISU’s 2 seed MJ Gaitan, who beat Thompson 6-3 in sudden victory.

Prediction: All four top seeds have a legitimate shot at winning this weight, and this may even be the perfect bracket for a Cinderella to come out of nowhere. I keep saying this, but Thompson will end up on the podium. However, he could have to take the long way there with a loss to Picklo or Gaitan.

184: No. 2 Dustin Plott

Let’s just skip to the main event. The Big 12 final at 184 could very well be a preview of the NCAA final in two weeks between Plott and top-seeded Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa.

Keckeisen has placed second and third at NCAAs the past two years and is also a three-time Big 12 champion. But Plott has also won a pair of conference titles and was a two-time All-American at 174 pounds. Plott bumped up at the start of this season, giving this bracket a pair of multiple-time Big 12 champs.

Plott lost to Keckeisen 12-6 when the two met in a dual this season at GIA. Keckeisen has beaten everyone he’s faced this season, though, at 20-0 and ranked not just as the best 184-pounder in the Big 12, but in the country. And Plott may be the second-best in the nation at 184.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Plott will have a Bedlam matchup against Giuseppe Hoose first. Plott has earned a tech fall against Hoose in both of their meetings this season. Next, Plott would get No. 7 Dennis Robin of WVU, who Plott also notched a tech fall against. OK, so maybe I wasn’t get too ahead of myself.

Plott did need sudden victory to beat 3 seed Bennett Berge of South Dakota State when they faced off this season, though. Plott would need to avoid an upset from Berge or someone else in the semis to set up that final we’re all licking our chops for.

Prediction: Not sure it’ll be the main event with all that could be on the line for Fix, but this could be the match of the night Sunday. Keckeisen is so dadgum dominant, though. I see Plott getting second, but it’s hard to beat the same guy, especially if they’re as good as Plott, three times, so Plott will get the best of Keckeisen at some point. Hopefully for Plott that happens in Kansas City.

197: No. 7 Luke Surber

Unfortunately for the 197-pound weight class, Luke Surber is a 7 seed.

Surber finished third at Big 12s last year, but after a season riddled with injuries, he enters this postseason projected to finish off the podium. John Smith said Wednesday, though, that Surber is healthier than he’s been all season. Surber will also have a fire under him as the 7 seed because the Big 12 was allocated only five qualifiers at 197 pounds. Surber finishing where his seed says he should could have him as the only Cowboy staying in Stillwater in two weeks.

The first round shouldn’t be a problem for Surber, but in the quarterfinals he’d get OU’s Stephen Buchanan, who is the No. 2 seed at 18-1 but hasn’t faced Surber yet this season despite their teams clashing twice.

The weight is led by South Dakota State’s Tanner Sloan, who is 18-1 and was an NCAA runner-up last year. He lost in the Big 12 finals last year, though, to Mizzou’s Rocky Elam, who is the No. 3 seed this season.

Prediction: With Buchanan and Elam likely ahead, Surber will probably need to battle through the consolation bracket. Although he may finish just short of stepping on the podium, Surber should still perform well enough to punch his ticket to Kansas City.

285: No. 5 Konner Doucet

It may not be the 165-pound gauntlet, but it’s still an endeavor at 285.

Doucet gets California Baptist’s Chris Island in the first round, but a probable win there sets up a rematch with OU’s Josh Heindselman, who Doucet has split two meetings with this season. If he wins the grudge match, then Doucet is almost guaranteed to see Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson in the semis. Hendrickson is a two-time Big 12 champion and has been named the NCAA’s Most Dominant Wrestler the past two years. And this season he’s 20-0 so far. Second-seeded Yonger Bastida of ISU is also 20-0.

Prediction: Doucet may finally get past Heindselman, but he has a tough road ahead to the podium. This weight is so stout 1-4 Doucet probably finishes just short of reaching the podium.

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