NORMAN — When Bedlam wrestling rolled around in early December for the first of two editions this season, momentum was squarely on the Sooners’ side.
Oklahoma was unbeaten in dual and tournament competition with seven of its 10 starters ranked in the top 20 nationally and the team checking in at No. 4 nationally. Oklahoma State, replacing several key spots in its lineup, was still struggling to round things into form and was banking on a trio of highly ranked wrestlers to carry the load for its squad.
And that confidence and momentum carried through, as the Sooners won the final four matches to pick up a 16-15 triumph, OU’s first Bedlam victory in the last 10 tries.
Two months later, Bedlam sees coach Mark Cody’s Sooner squad in a different place as it heads to Stillwater for a 2 p.m. dual today against the Cowboys inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Sooners have dipped to No. 10 in the rankings and taken a bit of a confidence hit in losing two of their last four duals while battling the last month short-handed due to injury and illness.
“I’ve been in this situation before where you’ve got to shake that anxiety just before tournament time, and I think this group can do it,” Cody said.
The Sooners regained some of their positive momentum with a 19-15 dual victory Thursday at conference foe West Virginia, a win that keeps the Sooners unbeaten in Big 12 dual action. Cody was pleased with the team looking more aggressive than they had in a defeat against Missouri last weekend.
“We need to approach every match with the same mindset. We need to go out and start the match attacking and stay on the attack,” he said. “That’s how you get major decisions and pins, and many times that’s what duals will come down to, and that is definitely what happened (against West Virginia). Major decisions were the difference.”
Eighty miles northeast, the Cowboys have made some progress since that Bedlam defeat. OSU has won five of seven duals — one loss coming to No. 3 Iowa — and also crowned three champions at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Cowboys are now ahead of OU at No. 8 in the national rankings.
And while comparative scores don’t always mean a lot, the day after Oklahoma dropped an 18-15 dual to Missouri, the Cowboys won all but two matches, rolling to a 28-6 victory against the Tigers.
Sooner senior Jarrod Patterson has not wrestled in a month due to a knee injury suffered against Northern Iowa, but he is “close” and may be in the lineup today at 125 for OU.
In Thursday’s Sooner victory at West Virginia, Cody juggled his lineup, with former national champions Kendric Maple and Andrew Howe each bumping up a weight class and little-used juniors Josh Durham and Derek Geiges taking the mat.
“We don’t make any excuses, you have to be able to step up regardless of who is out there on the mat,” Cody said.
Several big individual rematches figure to be on tap for Bedlam. Maple, ranked No. 2 at 149, dropped a tough 4-3 loss to No. 9 Josh Kindig in an upset in December and is looking for another shot. The 174 bout will again be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match, with Howe facing Chris Perry, who he defeated 4-2 in Norman. Other top 10 matches come at 133, where OSU’s Jon Morrison (No. 4) faces OU’s Cody Brewer (No. 7), and 197, with No. 4 Travis Rutt for OU and No. 10 Blake Rosholt for the Cowboys.
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