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November 2, 2012

Cody wants grapplers to gain experience

NORMAN — Second-year Oklahoma wrestling coach Mark Cody has his reasons for redshirting three of his main matmen this season.

None of them, as spoken, include bundling talent for a next-season run at OU’s first NCAA wrestling championship in decades, yet one must wonder.

Andrew Howe is a 174-pound transfer from Wisconsin who sat out last season with an Olympic redshirt after finishing third at 165 pounds at the 2011 NCAA meet, one year after claiming a 2010 national championship at the same weight.

Travis Rutt, at 184 pounds, is another Wisconsin transfer who also sat out last season with an Olympic redshirt, one year after finishing seventh at the NCAA meet.

Then there’s 125-pounder Jarrod Patterson, the No. 7 seed at last year’s NCAA tournament, where he won 4 of 6 matches for the Sooners during his junior year.

All three would be seniors on a loaded 11th-ranked Sooner squad that begins its season at 7 p.m. tonight against NAIA power Oklahoma City. Instead, they will all redshirt — Howe and Rutt for a second time — and be seniors next season.

Howe is coming off a knee injury and all three “have skills that need to be developed,” Cody said, yet all three would be favorites to reach the NCAA draw this season, maybe with a chance to win national titles.

Clearly, OU wrestling fans have much to look forward to.

As for this season?

“I think we’ve made some great improvements,” Cody said.

Indeed, many standouts are back, many freshmen are expected to have big impacts and any thought that OU won’t enjoy a fine 2012-13 mat season would appear to be quite off base.

When the Sooners meet the Stars at Howard McCasland Field House tonight, they’ll do it without the services of two of their best grapplers.

That’s because 141-pounder Kendrick Maple and 149-pounder Nick Lester, a pair of All-Americans, have been selected to perform at the NWCA All-Star Classic at American University in Washington, D.C.

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