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OSU Wrestling: Teague Travis’ Success Reward of Hard Work

‘He’s a kid that probably in the last two years is the hardest working athlete I have on the team’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Teague Travis upsetting a top-5 opponent isn’t nearly as surprising if you’re his coach witnessing how hard he works and his teammate who competed against him almost everyday in practice last year.

Travis, a redshirt sophomore from Stillwater, upset No. 5 Ed Scott 7-6 during Oklahoma State’s 22-12 win over then-No. 4 NC State last week. Travis was ranked 23rd at 157 pounds to start that match and has since jumped to No. 20, according to Intermat.

“He’s a kid that probably in the last two years is the hardest working athlete I have on the team,” OSU coach John Smith said. “Talk about somebody that does all the extras and putting just some serious hours into his conditioning. I basically told him, ‘You gotta reward yourself for this effort.’ You reward yourself by performing well and going out and doing what you’re capable of doing and really taking advantage of your conditioning. I think that kind of sunk in with him a little bit over the last two or three weeks.

“We have a tendency to do a lot of work, and then we don’t reward our self by going and performing well. For him, I think it’s just a matter of, ‘I’ve been working hard, I’ve been busting my a**, I’m gonna go win.’ And I think finally that just kinda sunk in. Of course, he’s gotta make sure, as he has the success, that he keeps focused on, not the outcome, but his performance.”

Travis has only had a starting job since bumping up from 149 for the Cowboys’ dual against Lehigh on Dec. 8, nearly a month into the season. Smith said before the season even began that he knew 157 would be a weak spot for OSU and someone would need to step up there, but at that point, Travis wasn’t even mentioned as an option. Daniel Manibog and Jalin Harper were listed as possible starters, but after both struggled out of the gate and Harper was injured, Smith gave Travis the chance and he took over from there. Travis is 4-0 in duals since.

“Just thinking of where he can go and what he can do in his work ethic,” Smith said. “Come on, give us something. Just give us something to grab ahold of. Once he did that it made it real easy. It’s like, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do. Now.'”

Last season, Travis wrestled at 141 pounds, bumping up two weight classes since. Cutting weight wasn’t his biggest daily challenge, though. Travis wrestled three-time NCAA finalist Daton Fix nearly everyday at practice. It’s a pairing both wrestlers benefited from.

“He was making (141), and that was a pretty big cut for him, but he was someone that I worked out with just about everyday and was someone who was really good for me,” Fix said. “He’s just a tough competitor. He’s not gonna get tired in matches. He’s gonna fight you. He’s gonna do whatever he can to score points, and I think when you have someone like that and you have to go up against someone like that, it’s always gonna be hard. He’s always gonna be in the match. And I think he feels really good at 157. I think it just helps that he’s gonna be able to use his gas tank and be able to really wrestle hard, really hard, those full seven minutes, and he definitely utilizes those seven minutes.”

Travis has a pair of unranked opponents on deck this weekend during the Cowboys’ road trip to Pittsburgh and West Virginia. He’ll be challenged again eventually, though, like he was against NC State. But those challenges, and overcoming them, are necessary for Travis to become what OSU needs him to be in order to have a chance to end its national title drought.

“For him, I think he’s comfortable at (157),” Smith said. “What does that mean? I don’t know. I think he was (ranked) 25. Twenty-five is you go 0-2 (at the NCAA tournament). We gotta be higher than that.”

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