The Norman Transcript

December 7, 2012

Sooners surrounded by Cowboys

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — No. 10 Oklahoma is on the mat against Wyoming tonight in Arkansas City, Kan. The Laramie Cowboys (1-1) are no joke. Ranked No. 20, their lone dual loss was a narrow 22-15 decision against ninth-ranked Nebraska.

But it is another group of Cowboys that really has the Sooners’ attention this weekend. After returning from Kansas tonight, OU will have one day off before hosting Stillwater’s Cowboys.

No. 2 Oklahoma State (2-0) will enter Howard McCasland Field House at 2 p.m. Sunday. Strangely, the Pokes will walk in also having just met Wyoming, which is at Stillwater on Saturday, a day after facing OU (4-1) today.

While that may be strange, Bedlam shouldn’t be. It should be what it always is.

“It’s hyped up, the rivalry’s crazy, the fans are crazy,” 141-pound Sooner Kendric Maple said. “The environment gives us a glimpse of what nationals are like. Everybody’s screaming, the stakes are high, it’s just a great environment to wrestle in.”

Maple may also hold the distinction of being the only prohibitive favorite on the Sooner side once Sunday rolls around. Ranked No. 1 much of last season, he’s 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in this one. His closest bout to date has been a 4-0 decision over Hofstra’s Luke Vaith. Maple has secured bonus points in the other six.

For OU coach Mark Cody, what happens in Arkansas City and how the Sooners handle it will have plenty to do with what happens Sunday against the Pokes.

First, he said, OU must stay on its nutrition program in the day between matches, because cutting weight at the last hour is a great way to bring nothing to the mat. Next, Cody looks forward to a lineup that includes five freshmen — Kyle Garcia (125), Cody Brewer (133), Matthew Reed (174), Greg Wilson (184) and Brad Johnson (197) — using one dual to propel toward the next one.

“For the five freshmen … in every dual, we’ve been able to identify mistakes they’re making technically and that they’re making in their preparation,” Cody said. “So, we’re hoping that this Wyoming dual will be another step forward. And, even though we’ll have only one day in between, they can learn a lot.”

Cody also said he doesn’t see Maple as the only guy he can count on for a victory Sunday. In his mind, the Sooners could have the advantage in half of the 10 bouts, leaving winning and losing a matter of bonus points.

“Winning the close matches is huge,” he said. “Getting the majors where we can get the majors, and getting tech falls and pins where we can do it … There’s going to be some (weights) where it could go either way.”

Sooner 125-pounder Kyle Garcia is a great example of a freshman with room to grow. He won a state title his freshman high school season at Del City and three more at Choctaw, but he’s 1-3 as a Sooner.

Also recruited by OSU, this weekend could be his time to put it together. He doesn’t see why OU can’t win.

“I think (winning’s) extremely doable,” he said. “I don’t think we would see it as an upset. We’re going to go in there believing we can win.”

Still, one thing at a time.

First Wyoming, then OSU.

Two sets of Cowboys in three days.

Anything can happen?

“We don’t have a really weak weight class,” Cody said. “We have solid wrestlers at every weight class.”

Clay HorningFollow me @clayhorningcfhorning@normantranscript.com

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