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OSU Wrestling: Five Thoughts on Drexel, Lehigh and the Cowboys Moving Forward

Five thoughts on the opening weekend of duals for OSU wrestling



It was an interesting weekend for the Cowboys as they took care of business vs. Drexel on Friday then dropped a dual to Lehigh on Saturday amidst some controversy regarding a skin check. With this, recruiting, the Bill Farrell memorial and a few other story lines, there’s really a ton of wrestling to digest. I figured I’d do a little catch-all roundup to cover it all.

so I’m getting to this a few days late, but let’s take a look at the opening two duals for the Cowboys.

1. Life without Gfeller and Smith …

During the preseason, most of the wrestling world had Kaden Gfeller penciled in as the starter for OSU at 141, with Joe Smith at 174. For whatever reason we haven’t seen either of them yet this season. And John Smith, who’s often as blunt and honest as anyone you’ll ever speak to, really hasn’t said much on why.

Many prognosticators believe it’s a weight issue. That’s a problem, and though to a certain level you don’t want to beat your wrestlers that cut a lot of weight down by forcing them to make weight at every single dual, it’s a bit of a bad look in the locker room for certain guys not to be held accountable when it comes to making weight. Being without either of those guys is not good for dual results and it’s certainly plausible that with them in the lineup, OSU may have been able to get past Lehigh on the road. If it’s something else, injuries, etc… it’s reasonable and just might be something that OSU fans just have to be patient with, but if its weight/discipline issues, which many feel it is, it’s definitely reasonable to see it as a glass half empty scenario.

The glass half full side is OSU tied a dual with Lehigh on the road. Lehigh is a top ten team and OSU hung with them without two of its top guys and while taking a medical forfeit. Wittlake and Montalvo both have looked strong in their first few official starts, and Boo Lewallen looks healthy. So while it’s certainly frustrating not to see those guys in the lineup, if Gfeller and Smith get whatever they have going sorted out and get back, then they should strengthen a lineup that, in my opinion, is outperforming expectations to this point. Then suddenly OSU looks eight NCAA qualifiers deep with the current lineup and even has guys at the other weights that certainly look like fighters that will go out and perform.

It does sound like we may see Gfeller this weekend, which is a good sign.

2. The Montalvo and Geer situation

Dakota Geer told us in the first media availability that his plan was to go 184 this season. Last week at the OCU open, Geer and Montalvo made the finals at 184 and forfeited to each other, leading fans to believe they’d be deciding the spot in the room. That may or may not be what happened, but it looks as though they’ve settled in on having Geer move to 197 and Montalvo stay down at 184 at least for a bit.

This is where we saw them this weekend and during the radio broadcast, Roger Moore said, “Coach Smith says he’s pretty sure Dakota Geer is going to be the 197 going forward.” In a few other interviews since, John has indicated that they’re still sorting that out at this point. So did Montalvo beat the All-American and force him up? Did the coaches or Geer and Montalvo just decide that’s what’s best for the team and Geer decide he’d go up? Did the staff decide to set it up this way for a bit to allow them to evaluate? It would be interesting to know what pushed that change.

Either way, Montalvo has been a force at 84 so far. I’ve really liked this kid and his energy as he came up as a recruit and I like what I’ve seen so far. His technique still seems a little raw, but that kid’s a fighter and never stops going. I just love watching that. The way he broke a top 25 talent in the Lehigh dual to pick up that pin was the type of thing you really like to see. I don’t know if this is the lineup they’ve settled on with Geer at 197, but it will be intriguing to watch going forward if it is.

3. About that skin check …

When writing about any subject, all I really can do is utilize my knowledge on topics,  information I receive from my sources, and other research I gather. Naturally, the perspective I write from is more often than not going to be OSU’s side of things. That said, I wrote this discussing the skin check situation that impacted OSU’s dual with Lehigh on Saturday. I was flooded with opinions and thoughts from Lehigh people and others on the situation. Some were them ready to burn me at the stake, some were people that had run-ins with the Lehigh medical staff and thought worse of them than most OSU fans do right now, and some were legitimate discussion on the topic. Though I really just want this story to slide into obscurity, here’s my final two takes on it.

1. It seems to be a universal opinion that the skin check people at Lehigh are very strict. There is nothing wrong with this. Some staffs are more strict than others. The question for most Oklahoma State fans certainly, and most wrestling fans in general, was how could Drexel not say anything and let the kid wrestle just 24 hours before while Lehigh wouldn’t?

National Preps is a big high school tournament hosted at Lehigh. They host others, too. They have to have a standard, and most feedback I got was that, simply, it’s higher than others. I got so many messages and comments from parents, coaches, and wrestlers that really voiced their opinion that their kids were kept out of tournaments because of them. I even had other Division I wrestlers tell me they were known for being strict. So from that angle, it sounds like that could potentially be an explanation for why the Drexel doctor viewed it one way and Lehigh viewed it another.

2. Opposing team staff shouldn’t be who makes these decisions. (That’s an NCAA policy currently) You have to do skin checks to keep people safe, but it should be a neutral party. Though I don’t believe it was some wildly elaborate scheme by Lehigh to try and win a dual this way, distancing it this way — when the outcome is a very influential decision — seems like a reasonable route to take moving forward.

4. Conditioning’s been great

Conditioning is always a bit of a concern early in the season. It’s been great so far. Andrew Shomers gutted out a really tough OT match in the Drexel Dual on Friday, Austin Harris was really undersized vs. a really good heavyweight at Lehigh and battled the whole match and picked up a few takedowns late that kept it to a decision and kept OSU in contention. Anthony Montalvo just completely gassed his guy and picked up a monster fall late in his match vs. Lehigh.

5. There will probably be a lot more tight duals this season

What we saw vs. Lehigh on Saturday is what fans may need to get used to. As a whole, OSU really wrestled pretty well here. In previewing the dual it looked like a 5-5 split coming down to bonus, which happened, but it happened in a very different way than anyone expected. No Joe Smith, no Kaden Gfeller, and an unexpected medical forfeit.

When Minnesota comes to town this weekend, when OSU goes to UNI and Iowa State, there’s just a lot of these duals that on paper could have the similar feel to Lehigh where OSU’s battling for bonus late or fighting to avoid giving it up just to win duals. If OSU gets Smith and Gfeller back into the lineup and some other things happen things could trend up a bit, but overall it’s just going to be one of those seasons where the Cowboys will have to gut a lot of tight duals out.






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