Bedlam wrestling: Cowboys fall behind, but come back strong for runaway victory over Sooners
STILLWATER — With yet another pin, Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni brought the Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd to a frenzied level.
Yet such things have become expected of the Cowboys’ 125-pound wrestling standout.
What happened before and after Piccininni’s pin were bigger reasons for Oklahoma State’s 27-8 Bedlam wrestling victory on Sunday afternoon.
OU pulled off a couple wins in toss-up matches between ranked opponents in two of the first three bouts of the dual, which began at 174 pounds.
Heavyweight has been a class of concern for the Cowboys this season, but Austin Harris came through with a 13-5 major decision to give Oklahoma State a lead it would never relinquish.
“I looked at maybe using someone different than Harris, but I felt like we really needed the win where we were, losing two of the first three matches,” OSU coach John Smith said. “It was an important win and it was nice to see him get a major. It shows that he’s fighting for the job.
“He wants to wrestle in the Big 12 (Tournament) and he wants to be the man, so it’s a good effort on his part.”
After Harris, Piccininni tacked on six more points with the pin of OU’s Christian Moody at 125, which was Piccininni’s 107th victory and 13th pin as a Cowboy.
Next, OSU 133-pound freshman Reece Witcraft fell behind 6-0 to OU second-stringer Tommy Hoskins before fighting back for an 11-7 decision.
“Don’t get up and go get a Coke, because you may miss something with that kid,” Smith said.
And Witcraft’s rally came quickly, with an escape, a takedown and a four-point nearfall before Hoskins got an escape to tie it at 7 after one period. Witcraft tacked on the final four points in the third period.
On a day when former OSU wrestler Mike Sheets was among the alumni honored during the match, his son, Wyatt Sheets, sealed the victory for the Pokes with an 8-3 decision at 157 pounds.
At 141 pounds, reigning Big 12 champion and fifth-ranked Dom Demas of OU scratched out a 4-3 win over Dusty Hone, who is locked into the starting lineup after Smith announced that Cowboy sophomore Kaden Gfeller had undergone season-ending knee surgery.
Demas was one of three ranked OU wrestlers to win Sunday, along with Anthony Mantanona at 174 and Jake Woodley at 197.
“There’s certain weight classes that performed fine,” OU coach Lou Rosselli said. “We’ve had some injuries, so there’s a couple guys in there that shouldn’t be in there, but we didn’t want to forfeit.
“I was pleased to see Dom shoot two times. That’s two more times than he’s been shooting. For him, that’s improvement. At the end of the day, I’m looking for people to make progress along the way.”
OU hosts Fresno State next Sunday to conclude the regular season, while the Cowboys head to Iowa for the final dual of the year. The Big 12 Championships are set for March 7-8 at BOK Center in Tulsa.
At Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
Oklahoma State 27, Oklahoma 8
125: Nick Piccininni, OSU, pinned Christian Moody, 5:54
133: Reece Witcraft, OSU, dec. Tommy Hoskins, 11-7
141: Dom Demas, OU, dec. Dusty Hone 4-3
149: Boo Lewallen, OSU, maj. dec. Jacob Butler, 14-1
157: Wyatt Sheets, OSU, dec. Justin Thomas, 8-3
165: Travis Wittlake, OSU, tech fall, Elijah Joseph, 5:26 (19-4)
174: Anthony Mantanona, OU, dec. Joe Smith, 10-5
184: Anthony Montalvo, OSU, dec. Darrien Roberts, 4-0*
197: Jake Woodley, OSU, dec. Dakota Geer, 10-9
HWT: Austin Harris, OSU, maj. dec. Collin McCoy, 13-5
*-Each team was penalized one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct after the match.