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OSU Wrestling: The Rewards and Headaches of a Starting Lineup that Features Four Freshmen

OSU’s starting frosh have a combined 32-10 record this season.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Sometimes freshmen earn NCAA Wrestler of the Week honors. Sometimes they fall flat on their head.

Oklahoma State’s lineup features four freshmen just over a month into the wrestling season– Troy Spratley (125), Tagen Jamison (141), Jordan Williams (149) and Brayden Thompson (174). The rookies have a combined 32-10 record so far, flashing their talents and potential while also showing the growing pains of almost half a lineup experiencing their first college wrestling season together.

“It’s rewarding from the standpoint you see the development a little bit quicker in some of these young guys,” OSU coach John Smith said. “You got four freshmen out there– (at) 25, 41, 49, 74. You look at it, and you’re like, ‘Let’s keep this thing rolling and make sure we’re developing.'”

The first full weekend of dual action this season saw the freshmen go 7-1 against two ranked teams, including a Bedlam matchup in Norman. Williams suffered the only loss to OU’s 22nd-ranked Willie McDougald, 5-4. Williams had a lead until McDougald had ahold of Williams’ leg, and in a wild effort to escape, Williams tried to flip backward, instead landing on his head and giving up a late takedown.

“You don’t need to Kamikaze,” Smith said. “Slow down, buddy. Sometimes I think he gets in the moment and rather than staying solid, he does some things that can get you hurt. He’s lucky he’s not really hurt. It looked like he landed on his neck and it looked like he got knocked out there for a second. Anyway, just need to continue to work with him and find his balance. He’s in a good place right now, and we just need to take advantage of that right now and keep moving towards what we need him to do as far as technically and emotionally in the match and needs to grow as we go forward from here.”

Last weekend’s duals were Williams’ first dual action as a redshirt freshman. He didn’t start the Cowboys’ season opener against Bucknell, but earned a spot in the lineup after impressive tournament showings during OSU’s break from duals. Williams beat Lehigh’s Drew Munch 10-5 in his dual debut.

“(Last weekend’s performances are) not really a reflection of Jordan’s work ethic up to this point,” Smith said. “He’s been really pretty consistent, pretty driven. So, just patient with him, and his days are gonna come. I really believe that for him.”

The others debuted in OSU’s season-opening win over Bucknell on Nov. 10. Thompson was the only one with a spoiled debut because of a medical forfeit after getting injured early in the match. The forfeit prompted a three-match losing streak to start his career. Thompson, a true freshman, notched his first collegiate win against Lehigh’s Thayne Lawrence, 8-2. Two days later, he upset No. 17 Tate Picklo of OU 9-0. The first win and upset victory over a rival was enough for Thompson to become the Cowboys’ first NCAA Wrestler of the Week this season.

“A little bit (surreal), but, I mean, I’m a good wrestler, so I expected it,” Thompson said. “Finally get a few wins in my column, and then work my way up.”

While Thompson hits his stride, redshirt freshman Jamison may be sidelined after starting his season 12-2. He injured his elbow in a 6-3 win against OU’s Kaden Smith when he got his arm stuck in an awkward position. Smith said Jamison could miss the rest of the month of December, which only includes Tuesday’s dual against Wyoming.

Jamison adds to OSU’s injured list that already included 133-pounder Daton Fix and 197-pounder Luke Surber.

“I’m not too worried about it in the month of December,” Smith said. “Dec. 13, so what? Feb. 13, Jan. 13, ehh. Right now, let’s get it healed up whatever time we need. I think actually Luke will probably travel with us to Wyoming. I think he’s not too far off.

“But we got time. That’s the nice thing. We’re not pressing.”

Much like Jamison healing, time is on the Cowboys’ side with this young group. But with the development shown already, that time could be March.

“It’s just awesome to know you’re in it with all the best guys in the room,” Thompson said. “The older guys are doing it, so are the younger guys. Everyone’s doing the extra right now.”


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