NORMAN — Four matches into Sunday’s dual, Oklahoma State already had a win from one of only two unranked wrestlers it brought to Norman, as well as a major upset victory from a freshman over Oklahoma’s No. 1-ranked defending national champion.
It’s all over, right? Hardly so in an event that regularly seems to live up to its name of Bedlam.
The Sooners rallied to capture the final four matches of the day and escape with a 16-15 victory against the Cowboys in front of a standing-room only crowd at McCasland Field House.
“It really helps us long-term going forward,” said OU Coach Mark Cody of the win for his fourth-ranked Sooners. “We are doing a lot of things right and it’s really starting to show.”
It’s a huge turnaround from last March, when the Cowboys knocked off an injury-depleted Sooner squad 40-3 in the Big 12 Dual Championships.
“That match was one of the most embarrassing days of my coaching career,” Cody admitted.
Things seemed to be headed that way Sunday as the No. 5 Cowboys captured five of the first six matches to take a 15-3 advantage.
The momentum actually started to turn in the final two of those matches. The Cowboys sent out a pair of wrestlers ranked No. 2 at their weights — Alex Dieringer at 157 and Tyler Caldwell at 165. But each only managed to score decision victories against their Sooner
counterparts, Justin DeAngelis and Clark Glass, keeping a shot at a rally in sight.
“You go out there and wrestle hard and you’re not going to get major decisioned, or a tech fall against you,” Cody said. “(DeAngelis and Glass) both fought hard and kept us in this dual.”
While those matches were going on, Cody sent Sooner Assistant Coach Michael Lightner to the locker room to make sure his finishing quartet of big men were ready to roll in what was the first Bedlam dual for each.
Were they ever.
Senior transfer Andrew Howe got the Sooner comeback started at 174. Facing the Cowboys’ Chris Perry in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup of former national champions, Howe controlled throughout in a victory that was more decisive than the 4-2 margin.
“I just looked at it like another match, really,” Howe said. “That’s really how you’ve got to approach it. But I knew I needed to get a win to get the ball rolling for us.”
Danny Chaid then gave OU a huge lift at 184. Trailing most of the match to the Cowboys’ Kyle Crutchmer, Chaid hit a takedown just 25 seconds from the end of the match, quickly getting Crutchmer to his back for a near-fall. The 7-3 victory set the stage for even more heroics in the final two matches.
OU’s Travis Rutt entered ranked No. 5 at 197 and facing a strong foe in Blake Rosholt, ranked 10th nationally. Rutt led 3-1 after two periods but took total control from there, scoring two takedowns and nearly pinning the Cowboy early in the final period, scoring the day’s only major decision, 12-3.
That put the match score at 15-13 and the result in the hands of heavyweights Ross Larson and Austin Marsden, who entered ranked four spots higher than his Sooner foe.
But Larson, a redshirt freshman, was up to the challenge. He scored the match’s only takedown in the first minute and then held off a late attempt by the Cowboy sophomore for a 3-2 victory and a celebration from the Sooner faithful that shook the old field house like it hasn’t shaken for a while.
“It was one of the most exciting wrestling environments I’ve ever been in,” said Howe, the 2010 national champion while at Wisconsin and nearly an Olympic qualifier last year.
It was a frustrating ending for Coach John Smith and his Cowboy squad, who made a quick exit to the team bus without comment after the dual.
Jarrod Patterson had started the day on a good note for OU with a 4-0 decision at 125 against OSU’s Eddie Klimara.
But things turned the Cowboys’ way for a while after that. In one of the feature matches of the day, OSU’s Jon Morrison defeated Cody Brewer 8-2 at 133 in a matchup of top-five ranked grapplers.
While that match figured to be tight, the next two on paper looked like they would be Sooner wins. But Cowboy freshman Anthony Collica scored two third period takedowns to upset Sooner Nick Lester at 141 before OSU’s Josh Kindig stunned top-ranked Kendric Maple 4-3 at 149. Maple, last year’s national champion at 141, surrendered a takedown in the final 35 seconds in suffering his second loss of the season.
But it was Bedlam, and things were just getting started from there.
The Sooners return to the mat this coming weekend for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational before taking a month off from competition for finals and the holiday break.
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