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OSU Wrestling: Sunday’s Dual vs. Iowa Announced as Sellout

‘[A crowd] can be devastating to guys.’



[Jackson Lavarnway/PFB]

There may not be any empty seats in Gallagher-Iba Arena when it hosts “The Greatest Rivalry in College Wrestling” on Sunday.

Oklahoma State announced Thursday that its upcoming dual against No. 4 Iowa is already a sellout three days before the two powerhouses meet in a top-five matchup at 2 p.m. Sunday. Although it’s already a sellout, OSU said in its release that students with an all-sports pass will still be able to attend.

No. 2 OSU’s last dual against OU on Sunday brought in 9,912 fans — the third largest crowd for a wrestling dual in GIA in the last 20 years, according to OSU Athletics. Cowboy wrestling has been known to draw large crowds, though, especially during successful seasons like the 14-0 campaign OSU has put together so far. The largest crowd in GIA history was when the Cowboys hosted Penn State in 2017 in front of 14,059 fans.

“[A crowd] can be devastating to guys,” OSU coach John Smith said Wednesday. “It can lift you up beyond your abilities to do things, trust me. You find strength you didn’t know you had if they’re yelling for you. And if they’re yelling against it, I’ve seen some ugly things. Yeah, crowds are good. I think probably every coach would tell you that in every sport — yeah, it’s beneficial.”

The second-most fans to ever witness a wrestling dual in GIA was the last time the Hawkeyes visited Stillwater in 2019, which was also OSU’s last sellout. Just like the upcoming dual, the Cowboys were 14-0 then before beating No. 3 Iowa 27-12 to finish the regular season undefeated. That event has gone down in history because of Nick Piccininni’s pin that started the dual, a moment that Smith said is one of his favorite moments in GIA.

“It’s high,” Smith said. “Coaching a son in Gallagher-Iba Arena — that was a neat moment. Winning my first Bedlam match was a neat moment. Nick Piccininni and his pin, that was a great moment. I think what made it great was just the eruption of the crowd and how loud it actually was. Pretty exciting. I mean, wow. That’s not what you expected. And that’s how you win dual meets you’re not favored in.”

The rivalry between OSU and Iowa has experienced a variety of crowds and unique venues. The Cowboys missed out on their last chance to host Iowa in 2022 because that dual was moved to Arlington, Texas, for Bout at the Ballpark, an event where mats were placed on the field at Globe Life Field, home of the MLB’s Texas Rangers.

“Been awhile [since Iowa has been in GIA],” Smith said. “We went down to Texas during the year that it was supposed to be here. That didn’t bother me. Would I do it again? Probably not. Not that I didn’t like it. I’m glad we did it. I think it was a one-time event that looking back someday you’re gonna go, ‘That was a pretty neat experience to be able to go down and wrestle in a baseball field.'”

Hosting duals at unique venues to increase attention has become a recent trend in college wrestling that OSU and Iowa originally started. The two programs competed inside Iowa’s football stadium, Kinnick Stadium, in what was deemed Grapple on the Gridiron and was the first event of its kind in 2015. The event went nearly flawlessly with great weather and broke a record for highest attendance ever at a wrestling dual with 42,287 fans.

Although Sunday’s venue may be a regular spot, the upcoming matchup will still get an unprecedented audience for a college wrestling dual, as the bout will be televised nationally on FS1.

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