NORMAN — Oklahoma’s wrestling present looks pretty good. Led by a pair of national champions in Kendric Maple and Wisconsin transfer Andrew Howe, this could be the year the Sooners aren’t merely the state’s best group of grapplers, but the nation’s, too.
That was on display at Tuesday night’s Red/White Scrimmage at McCasland Field House. Yet, apart from that, so too was a big part of the Sooners’ future.
Get a load of true freshman Oliver Pierce, who fell 2-0 in the night’s 149-pound bout, his opponent’s points coming on a single escape and riding time.
“I think maybe I made a mistake choosing bottom in the third period because I kind of underestimated how good he was on top,” Pierce said. “Maybe I could have gotten him in the third period if I would have chosen neutral.”
Who was Pierce wrestling?
Maple, the reigning national champ at 141.
Then there was Daniel Chaid, another true freshman, at 184 pounds, taking on Stone Druhlman.
Chaid, the son of four-time Sooner All-American and 1985 190-pound national championand Dan Chaid, earned the pin 12 seconds before the first period ended.
Chaid was up 9-2 even before he put Druhlman’s shoulders to the mat.
“We need to bring in that quality of freshmen in here going forward if we want to get this program where we want it to go,” Sooner coach Dan Cody said. “We’re losing five of our six All-Americans after this season.”
For a program intent on challenging for a national championship, it was hard not to be equally impressed by the Sooners’ new blood.
At least at the moment, Cody doesn’t have a place in his lineup for Pierce, who was a star quarterback, as well as a grappler, last year at Allen (Texas) High School. The plan is to redshirt him and have him replace Maple — who has moved to 149 — next season.
Chaid, though, appears to have a home at 184.
“I’m just trying to see where I stand in the mix of everything and just trying to do as well as I possibly can,” he said, “and just (trying to) keep improving and seeing how I fit into the mix of everything at the NCAAs.”
Apparently, he’s fitting in well.
“They stayed busy,” Cody said of the true freshmen duo. “They stayed busy the whole time.”
Tuesday night also marked the first time Sooner fans could watch Howe and fellow Wisconsin transfer Travis Rutt. Both were All-Americans on the Badger mat team three seasons ago before first taking an “Olympic redshirt,” which is allowed by the NCAA, and then transferring to OU and taking the conventional redshirt athletes are allowed to use once.
Howe may have been the busiest guy in the gym on the way to earning a 21-5 technical fall over Matt Turner in the 174-pound bout. Rutt was impressive, knocking off Brad Johnson 6-1.
It was also a good night for Cody and his band of assistant coaches, who seemed to dice the Sooner talent perfectly down the middle.
As Ross Larson topped Zach Merrill 2-1 in the heavyweight bout, closing the scrimmage, the final score was forged.
Red 20, White 20.