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OSU Wrestling: Five Thoughts on Fargo

A deep look at OSU’s recruiting and what we learned from Fargo.

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Oklahoma State had six recruits finish as freestyle All Americans at Fargo. Here are my five thoughts on it.

1. Chance McLane might be a bigger asset than most have projected.

On paper McLane didn’t come in with a lot of recruiting hype. He was a three-time Montana state champ, but since I’ve been covering OSU, I don’t believe he’s ever been ranked by any national recruiting outlets.

McLane’s one to follow closely. At his size he’s not going to be forced into the lineup early with Kaden Gfeller, Wyatt Sheets, Boo Lewallen, and Dusty Hone still around for a bit. He’ll get a chance to develop behind them. He’s probably going to be a starter at some point though as there really just aren’t many guys OSU has recruited to his size. So you really want to see him develop and this finish here is a promising sign for that.

2. OSU “Won” Fargo without three of their top guys

Daniel Lobdell AKA the “Wrestling Nomad” does an article each year at the end of Fargo where he calculates which college has the most success at Fargo based on their recruits’ performances. OSU fared better than any other program. And three of its top recruits weren’t even competing (!). Reece Witcraft is a little up an down at times, but was a Cadet Greco champ and a finalist in freestyle last year. He would have very likely at least been an All-American here and could’ve possible won it.

Trevor Mastrogiovanni finished 5th at the Junior US Open and would’ve probably been favored to win 126. Brevin Balmeceda doesn’t wrestle a lot of freestyle, but along with Witcraft is probably the highest-rated recruit for the Cowboys in the 2019 class. You’ve even got Colt Newton who’s been dealing with some injuries, but definitely has the talent to blossom if healthy.

3. This is a deep and spread out group

OSU’s recruiting has improved drastically. The last time they packaged together a few recruiting classes that were anything comparable to what they have coming in was 2014 and 2015. The problem with the 2014-15 group is they were all the same size. Chance Marsteller, Joe Smith, Ryan Blees and Chandler Rogers were all highly-touted recruits and all around the same size.

Marsteller and Blees ultimately ended up at other schools and Joe Smith and Chandler Rogers had to wrestle it out for the starting spot at 165 to end this season. We also saw Gary Wayne Harding and Tristan Moran move on to other programs as they were bundled up in the lineup with Piccininni, Brock, and Lewallen.

This group shouldn’t have this problem. Kids their age are still growing, so you never know, but you could reasonably project this or something similar.

  • 125/133-Burks/Mastrogiovanni
  • 141-Witcraft/Newton
  • 149-McLane
  • 157/165-Balmeceda/Manibog
  • 174-Surber/Lindsey
  • 184-Plott/Wills
  • 197-Doucet/?
  • 285-Doucet/?

With the exception of a few spots where wrestle-offs may decide who has to cut a little — or guys may have to wait their turn as Daton Fix, Kaden Gfeller, Travis Wittlake, and Anthony Montalvo still have a few years in the room — there’s not a lot of foreseeable crushing logjam scenarios like there was with the 2014-15 classes where so many wrestlers were coming in at the same size.

4. There’s still one hole

Anyone that follows recruiting or my writing probably knows the scenario. The Nos. 1 and 2 ranked overall recruits in the 2020 class are AJ Ferrari and Braxton Amos. Both have OSU in their top 5 and both are projected 197-pounders in college. OSU seems to have a great connection with each of them and one would assume has a reasonable shot to land one. It’s unlikely they get both.

I don’t think either would shy away from a challenge, but find it unlikely that OSU has the scholarship money available to bring in two guys of that caliber at the same size. If they do get one, Konner Doucet is already a bit of a “tweener” at 220. He is a big frame kid that I would expect to bulk to heavyweight setting up a pretty strong combination at 197-285.

5. This isn’t quite the recruiting model that’s been winning national titles recently-

This is a great group, again on paper it’s the best OSU has had in a while, and I’ve written about it before here, but expect 2021 to be good too. If Oklahoma State gets 9-10 All-Americans in a given season, they’re going to win an NCAA title. But the model Penn State has been winning with, and the one Ohio State won their only title with, is one built around 3-5 superstars that bonus their way through the NCAA tournament and a few points and support from other role players.

Based on recruiting rankings there are guys in this group that could be NCAA title winners and pretty much all of them could eventually be All-Americans. But that 10 All-American deep line-up model isn’t typically what’s been winning NCAA titles. If OSU lands either Amos or Ferrari they’ll quickly shift this class closer to the PSU model and still be 10-deep with All-American caliber talent, which is something you could argue even PSU hasn’t had during their recent run.

 

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