By Christian Potts
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma State’s second trip to McCasland Field House was a whole lot more positive than its first.
The Cowboys won six individual champions and cruised to the Big 12 Championship Saturday evening, while the host Oklahoma Sooners crowned champions in seniors Jarrod Patterson at 125 and Kendric Maple at 149 and easily outdistanced Iowa State for second place.
The final match of the night left the crowd buzzing, as the Cowboys’ Chris Perry, a defending national champion, held off former national champion Andrew Howe of the Sooners, 3-2, in a matchup of the top two wrestlers in the country at 174 pounds.
Howe got the match’s only takedown in the final period, but two optional starts and a riding time point gave the Cowboy senior the win.
While Perry riding out the entire second period gave the edge that ultimately won him the match, it may be remembered more for two third-period challenges by Cowboy coach John Smith, each of which negated what originally were called as takedowns for Howe.
The second came after Howe had gotten credit for a takedown and nearly pinned Perry with just more than a minute left in the match for what would have been at least a 4-2 advantage for the Sooner, and probably more if near-fall points had been awarded.
Instead, the match stayed 2-2 and Perry fought off a final advance by Howe in the closing seconds as boos rained down from the Sooner faithful as equally as the cheers from the orange-clowd Cowboy fans. It’a a fourth straight Big 12 title for Perry, who has not lost other than a December defeat to Howe.
Howe won 4-2 that day inside the Field House, as the Sooners knocked off the Cowboys 16-15 in the first of two Bedlam duals.
“Howe’s such a tough guy, and you just have to figure out a way to score on him,” Smith said. “Chris did a good job of staying tough. It was probably the best 3-2 match of the night, there was a lot of action both ways.”
It’s Howe’s first loss of the season, as he will head to the national tournament March 20-22 in Oklahoma City at 23-1.
For Maple and Patterson, the evening ended on top. Maple wrapped up his third straight conference championship by topping OSU’s Josh Kindig 6-3. After losing to Kindig at Bedlam in December, Maple has beaten the Cowboy the last two times they have wrestled.
“It feels great to get this one,” Maple said. “It’s been a long season with a lot of adversity, but I’m feeling great and ready to go for more.”
Patterson was a conference champion three years ago as a freshman, and found his way back to the top of the stand with a hard-fought 4-3 victory against the Cowboys’ Eddie Klimara.
Patterson missed more than a month with a knee injury but has won four straight matches since returning and heads to nationals with a No. 7 ranking. He kept Klimara on the mat the entire third period to secure the riding time point that made the difference.
“I feel like I have confidence there (on top) and if it comes down to me having to ride somebody out, I’m always feeling more confident about it,” Patterson said.
Travis Rutt nearly gave OU a third champion at 197, battling No. 1-ranked Kyven Gadson of Iowa State to almost as close a match as is possible. Tied 1-1 after regulation, the pair went through six periods of sudden victory before Gadson was declared the champion on criteria by only five seconds of riding time.
The Sooners also had second-place finishes from Cody Brewer at 133, Justin DeAngelis at 157, and Howe. Nick Lester at 141 and Clark Glass at 165 placed fourth.
The Cowboys finished with 98.5 team points, followed by the Sooners with 63.5, Iowa State at 45.5 and West Virginia with 26.
Hosting the conference tournament gave one final time for Maple, Patterson, Howe, Rutt and Lester to wrestle in competition in McCasland Field House, and the moment wasn’t lost on Maple as he gets ready to chase a second straight national title.
“It’s just been an honor and a blessing, I just thank God for the chance I’ve had here, Maple said. “The main thing was having my friends, my family here, feeling their support. It’s great to get a win in my last time at the Field House.”
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