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Wrestling Notebook: Preparing For Nationals, National Parity (Sort Of) and Jordan Williams Update

Top storylines ahead of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Cowboys will be in the midst of the NCAA Wrestling Championships this time next week.

Oklahoma State coach John Smith, as well as wrestlers Daton Fix and Dustin Plott, met with the media Thursday ahead of their trip to Kansas City for the NCAA tournament. Smith said OSU will leave Stillwater on Tuesday, with the tournament starting Thursday and concluding with the finals on Saturday night.

Here are the top storylines that came from Thursday’s media availability.

Preparing for Nationals

They say you compete like you practice.

The NCAA Wrestling Championships is three days long, and one off day — or even one off match — can squander a wrestler’s chance at a national title or becoming an All American. Smith, set to coach in his 33rd national tournament, said the team mirrors that schedule during preparation.

After having Monday off, the Cowboys practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with another off day Friday before getting back to work Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“Three-day tournament,” Smith said. “What is it gonna take to have success at the national tournament? It’s gonna take three days of success. It’s gonna take three days of — for this team, for our team, to do good — three days of possibly having to win some one- and two- and three-point matches. Probably a lot of them. So just kind of wrapping yourself around that and giving them a little bit of what they’re gonna be experiencing, and the good thing is we have some experience, and then we have some guys that are gonna have to make their experience.”

Parity in College Wrestling (Sort Of)

Everyone who keeps track of college wrestling, including Smith, knows that no team is catching Penn State at the top, at least not this year. But there is at least parity below that in a rat race for second place.

“There’s a lot of parity,” Smith said. “I think there’s, I don’t know, maybe five teams that could finish second. I think Penn State is the best team in the country this year. I don’t think anybody is gonna run them down. I think there’s four or five teams that could take second, and I think there’s probably 10 teams that could take third.”

Based on seeding and where individual wrestlers would presumably finish, there’s an 11-point difference between placing third and 10th at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Theoretically, Penn State would win it with 131.5 points. NC State, which OSU beat in a dual this season, would be second with 82.5 points. The gap grows there, with Lehigh in third with 57 points, followed by OSU (55), Iowa State (53.5), Arizona State (52), Cornell (52), Iowa (49.5), Nebraska (48) and Virginia Tech (46).

Jordan Williams Update

Redshirt freshman Jordan Williams made a run to the Big 12 149-pound final last weekend but was unable to finish the bout, having his first conference title ripped away because of injury default.

Williams wasn’t himself to start that match, though, and was even absent most of the time while other finalists were warming up on the mat Sunday night before things got started. Williams injured his shoulder near the end of an 8-7 decision over 1 seed Casey Swiderski of Iowa State in the semis. Williams took a comfortable 7-2 lead with a takedown early in the third period, but then was injured while Swiderski was trying to escape. Williams was evidently hurt from that point on as Swiderski narrowed the margin and nearly came back for the win as Williams was called for stalling three times in the final 40 seconds.

After the semifinal match, Williams saw a doctor before meeting with media and acting like he didn’t believe it was anything serious. His performance the next day showed otherwise and Smith said Sunday night it looked like Williams would be out 10-12 days, with nationals starting 11 days from then.

Smith provided another update on Williams on Thursday, six days after suffering the setback.

“Jordan’s fine,” Smith said. “He’s done a nice job of being able to just work through the process of training a lot. A lot of times you hurt something and you end up training a lot harder than you would have if you were competing everyday. Yeah, doing good.”

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