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OSU Wrestling: Five Thoughts on the Southern Scuffle

Five thoughts on the Cowboys’ latest tournament.

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The Cowboys edged out NC State for a Southern Scuffle title on Thursday with Nick Piccininni bringing his second individual championship from the tournament.

Here are my five takeaways from the tournament.

1. There’s a Starting Battle at 141

Kaden Gfeller’s debut quickly became one of the standout storylines of the tournament at 141. That was until Dusty Hone beat No. 2 seed Tariq Wilson in the early rounds on Wednesday. Gfeller wrestled well in his return and finished second, but Hone performed well in his own right and knocked off two ranked wrestlers to finish third. Last year at 149 the two wrestled and Gfeller won comfortably. With both moving down to 41 and Gfeller missing the first part of the season this may be something for OSU fans to follow as the season continues. I think they may still be evaluating to decide who will be the guy at 141 for a bit.

2. It Was a Team Effort

There’s always conjecture and discussion in sports regarding the vibe of a locker or in this case a wrestling room. Fans and media can talk about it all day, but you never truly know. This team for OSU is interesting. It’s a rebuilding year and the Cowboys don’t quite have the high level of expectations they typically do. This leaves fans wondering what the vibe and motivation in the room is and how that impacts performance?

Based on what we’ve seen so far this year, I think it must be a pretty positive one. In the Lehigh dual OSU was already in the hole against a good team after a failed skin check left them without a 133. They still showed up and fought to a tie lost on criteria. Against Princeton a few of OSU’s top guys in Nick Piccininni and Dakota Geer went down and guys like Dusty Hone, Reece Witcraft, and Austin Harris all stepped up to win close matches and the dual. More of the same happened here as the Cowboys were short Boo Lewallen and without him, guys like Wyatt Sheets, Travis Wittlake, and others wrestled well and stepped up to help them win the tournament.

3. Dakota Geer Struggles Against Some of the Big Boys

Dakota Geer’s a little undersized at 197. That’s clear every time he steps out on the mat. It’s not always an issue but when he goes up against the big physical brutes like Patrick Brucki, Michael Beard, and others, he just isn’t able to do what he does with some of the other guys at 197 and basically everyone he comes across at 184.

It has to make you wonder if OSU is considering any changes here. Last year the conversation of the season for Oklahoma State was the jostling of the lineup from 165-197 to find the right mix. At times Geer found himself at 197 but went back down to 84 after the return of Preston Weigel. With the returning All-American finishing fifth here one has to wonder if the staff would consider a change.

4. OSU Won Without Its Best Guy

In my humble opinion — yes I know I’m incredibly biased — the best 149 in the country is Boo Lewallen. On paper he would’ve rolled to a title here but was unable to go after not passing skin checks. Even after that OSU lost All-American Joe Smith as well.

The Cowboys still managed to win the tournament over a pretty good NC State program and a Stanford team with a lot of young talent as well. I think as a fan, you should walk away from that with a pretty good feeling.

5. Sheets and Wittlake Coming to Form

Wyatt Sheets looked as good as we’ve seen him all year at this tournament. He came in unseeded and knocked off a number of ranked wrestlers who were seeded above him to finish third. John Smith has spoke of Wyatt as though he’s just on the edge of breaking through and jumping to another level. It will be interesting to see if later in the year we’re looking back at this tournament as a bit of a coming out party for Wyatt.

Wittlake ran into a hammer with Stanford’s Shane Griffith who was the No. 1 seed and eventual champion, but even in that match he looked pretty decent in a 4-1 loss. The rest of the way he looked great, knocking off ranked wrestler after ranked wrestler on his way to a third place finish coming in as the No. 5 seed.

These two performances were key to OSU winning this tournament

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