NORMAN — Albeit against varying levels of competition, the first month of the season has produced many successes for the Oklahoma wrestling team as it defends a No. 4 national ranking.
Four lopsided dual wins and a tournament title are just what were expected so far. But to say the stakes go up this week in the first edition of Bedlam for this season would be an understatement.
In addition to the decades of rivalry with Oklahoma State, the Cowboys bring the No. 5 national ranking into Norman for today’s 2 p.m. dual at McCasland Field House to produce what will be college wrestling’s biggest early season event.
“It’s a big test whenever you’re going to wrestle Oklahoma State,” said Danny Chaid, the Sooners’ 184-pounder. “We know we will have to pick up our whole intensity level.”
While the story could be told in any of the dual’s 10 matches, no encounter will be bigger than the 174-pound tussle between the Sooners’ Andrew Howe and OSU’s Chris Perry.
Their resumes are top-notch. Howe was the 2010 NCAA champion and a three-time All-American while wrestling for Wisconsin. Perry is the defending national champion at 174 and a three-time Big 12 champion.
“No stage is too big for Andrew,” OU coach Mark Cody said of the Sooner newcomer. “He is a fearless competitor and a true warrior. Andrew approaches every opponent with the same mindset. His goal is to go out and dominate.”
Howe enters the match ranked No. 1 at 174, and Perry is No. 2. The pair were teammates with the U.S. World Junior Team in 2009 and despite being close in size, they’ve actually never faced off in a collegiate match. It’s almost certainly the first of several meetings for the pair this year.
The Sooners come into Bedlam with seven wrestlers ranked nationally — Howe and Kendric Maple (at 149) each ranked No. 1 in their weight classes, Jarrod Patterson (fifth at 125), Cody Brewer (fifth at 133), Travis Rutt (fifth at 197), Ross Larsen (15th at heavyweight) and Nick Lester (16th at 141).
The Cowboys send out eight nationally-ranked grapplers, including No. 2-ranked wrestlers at 157 and 165 in Alex Dieringer and Tyler Caldwell, where the Sooners likely will counter with Justin DeAngelis and Clark Glass.
It’s likely stealing a win or two in a match like these against a higher-ranked competitor could be the difference for either team.
It’s been almost five years to the date — Dec. 7, 2008 — since the Sooners came out on top of a Bedlam dual. But recent history has seen many competitive battles, including a 16-16 tie in 2009 and a down-to-the-wire 19-18 defeat to the then-No. 1 Cowboys in 2012.
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