COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even without all its top wrestlers, Oklahoma gave a strong Cornell team all it wanted before coming up just short, 23-20, in the semifinals of the NWCA National Duals Monday afternoon.
The Sooners then fell to host Ohio State 23-16 to finish fourth in the 14-team event.
Ranked No. 11 nationally, the Sooners had their chances against the fourth-ranked Cornell squad and hit hard early. After an opening fall for Cornell’s No. 1-ranked Nahshon Garrett at 125, the Sooners’ Cody Brewer scored a major decision against Cornell’s No. 15 Mark Grey at 133 and Nick Lester pinned the Big Red’s Mike Nevinger, ranked No. 7 in the nation, at 141 to give the Sooners a 10-6 lead.
The tide turned at 149 in a nail-biter. Chris Villalonga, ranked No. 6, came back with a 3-1 upset of OU’s No. 2 Kendric Maple in double overtime, the first of three straight victories for Cornell. Oklahoma finished strong with wins from Andrew Howe at 174, Travis Rutt at 197 and Ross Larson at heavyweight, but fell three points shy.
In the third-place dual later in the day, OU dropped four of the first five matches and fell to the Buckeyes. Minnesota, ranked No. 1 in the country, defeated Cornell in the championship match.
Howe was the lone Sooner to go 4-0 on the weekend, boosting his overall record to 23-0 as he continues his march as the favorite to win his second national title at 174.
Jarrod Patterson, who won both his matches Sunday at 125, was held out Monday as he continues to bounce back from a knee injury suffered last month. The Sooners also sat out 157-pound starter Justin DeAngelis, who wrestled just one of the four matches in the tournament, and 184-pounder Danny Chaid, who has missed nearly a month after an appendectomy.
Injuries and matchups forced the Sooners to mix and match, as 14 different wrestlers appeared in the two-day tournament.