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OSU Wrestling: Five Thoughts on Cowboys’ 28-9 Win in Round One of Bedlam

That’s 18 in a row for the Cowboys.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

OU winning Bedlam on the football field may not still be a guarantee, but Oklahoma State winning on the wrestling mat still is.

The Cowboys won their 18th straight Bedlam dual with a 28-9 victory against No. 18 OU on Sunday in Norman. Eleventh-ranked OSU improved to 3-0 on the season after notching two wins this weekend.

Here are five thoughts on the Pokes’ commanding rivalry win.

1. Be Glad the Sooners are Staying

OU announced before the season that it would still compete in the Big 12 in wrestling despite every other sport leaving the conference for the SEC at the end of the academic year. While every other sport’s Bedlam future is still up in the air, wrestling will be a lock for a yearly tradition.

Cowboy fans should have rejoiced at that news.

OSU leads the all-time series 150-27-10, reaching its 150th Bedlam win on the mat Sunday. The Cowboys have won 18 in a row. OU fans think the football count is lopsided at 90-21-7.

It’s fitting the sport that started it all will still continue Bedlam annually. And it’s even better for OSU that it’s a sport it dominates the rivalry in. Keep Bedlam an annual tradition in the sport you own your rival in? Absolutely.

2. So Much New

Although this is a rivalry with 187 matchups worth of history, other than the logos and John Smith coaching the Cowboys, there wasn’t much familiarity in the most recent Bedlam.

There was only one bout Sunday afternoon that featured two opponents who had faced before at the collegiate level, and that didn’t come until the very end. OSU’s 11th-ranked Konner Doucet narrowly beat No. 10 Josh Heindselman 2-1 in rideouts at heavyweight to cap the dual. Doucet now owns a 2-1 all-time advantage over Heindselman.

That is most likely the affect of college sports today with transfers, as well as the Cowboys having a plethora of new faces with seven of OSU’s 10 wrestlers making their Bedlam debut.

First-year OU coach Roger Kish, who was hired away from North Dakota State this offseason, also made his Bedlam debut Sunday.

3. Youth Still Evident But Promise More

Speaking of all that new, the Cowboys had four freshmen in their Bedlam lineup.

Those four rookies were Troy Spratley (125), Tagen Jamison (141), Jordan Williams (149) and Brayden Thompson (174). The four frosh went 3-1 in their Bedlam debuts, with Williams suffering the only loss.

Spratley’s matchup was supposed to be a tossup against No. 32 Conrad Hendriksen, but 21st-ranked Spratley controlled the whole match to win 4-1. Ninth-ranked Jamison did the same at 141 to beat Kaden Smith 6-3.

Thompson was still seeking his first collegiate win before Friday night but finished the weekend 2-0 after majoring No. 17 Tate Picklo 9-0 on Sunday. Thompson got late nearfall points to garner bonus points.

Williams’ talent is just as promising as the rest of the bunch, but his inexperience showed in a close 5-4 loss to No. 22 Willie McDougald. McDougald got OU’s first takedown of the dual four matches in. The takedown came late in the third and was ultimately the deciding factor.

Williams was ahead, but while McDougald had ahold of his leg while on their feet, Williams tried to flip backward out of the hold, but instead landed on his head and gave up the takedown. It’s the type of move that was flashy enough to probably work against inexperienced wrestlers at the high school level or in open tournaments, but McDougald had enough experience to hold onto Williams’ leg and let him take himself down.

I likened Williams to a young Kaid Brock on Friday night. I witnessed Brock pin defending national champion Cody Brewer in his dual debut at Bedlam. I also watched Brock get in some tough predicaments, and even injure himself, because of some of the wild stunts he tried to pull off on the mat. The talent level between the two is pretty close, and like Brock, Williams is capable of beating anyone because of that talent and the risks he takes, but he could also end up on his back (or head) at any time.

4. Answer at 157

I hear John Smith attends the 8:30 a.m. mass, and Teague Travis may be one of his answered prayers.

Smith said before the season even started that 157 would be OSU’s weakest weight, and that was evident early on. Both Daniel Manibog and Jalin Harper struggled out the gate, which prompted Smith to bump Travis, a redshirt sophomore, up from 149 to 157 in OSU’s win against Lehigh on Friday night.

Travis upset No. 25 Max Brignola of Lehigh 5-1 on Friday night. Sunday in Bedlam, Travis was the first Cowboy to notch bonus points with an 11-2 major-decision over John Wiley.

Although moving weights, Travis’ success shouldn’t be a surprise. He was a three-time state championship in Missouri before transferring to Stillwater High School, where he won a fourth state title in Oklahoma. Travis is now 8-1 this season and could be ranked at 157 next week.

5. A Team Worth Excitement

It’s not often there’s so much unknown about a Cowboy wrestling team under Smith, but this lineup was riddled with question marks before the season started. Exactly a month in now, some of those question marks have been replaced with exclamation points.

Although injured right now, Daton Fix at 133 and Luke Surber at 197 were the only knowns for OSU in 2023, and those two are sure still to be at All-American levels when they return. Dustin Plott may have been returning, too, but his move from 174 to 184 still left question. However, Plott hasn’t lost a step at the new weight at 13-1, and may have even gained an edge, handling OU’s Giuseppe Hoose with an 18-2 technical fall.

I already mentioned the freshmen who have shown improvement every outing so far and are all top recruits with loads of talent.

The greatest exclamation has been Northern Illinois transfer Izzak Olejnik at 165. Olejnik has rocketed to second at 165 after starting the season 13-0 with six straight ranked wins. He was obviously going to be a solid addition to OSU’s lineup as an All-American last season, but Olejnik has emerged as maybe the most dominant wrestler at his weight to give OSU at least two legitimate contenders for individual titles.

As most question marks throughout this lineup have had positive answers and the Cowboys will likely finish the semester at 4-0, this is an OSU team worthy of some buzz because it’s built to peak and be at its best in March.

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