Norman — Oklahoma’s Jarrod Patterson struggled to catch his breath Saturday night at McCasland Field House. It wasn’t from the stunning 5-3 victory he claimed over top-seeded Andrew Long from Iowa State in the 125-pound final of the Big 12 Wrestling Championships that had left him gasping for air.
It was the enormous bear hug he received from OU assistant coach Sammie Henson and the enormity of what he’d just done that hit him.
“I never thought I’d be here right now,” the freshman said.
Patterson wasn’t the only one.
Four months ago he was expected to redshirt. Twelve months ago he was wrapping up a fourth-straight start title at Cushing High School.
Saturday night he was a Big 12 champion and sharing the title of event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler with Oklahoma State’s 133-pounder Jordan Oliver.
But unexpected things happen in the Big 12 Championships. Patterson’s upset title helped lead OU to 64 points and a third-place finish.
“Mighty Might,” OU coach Jack Spates said about his surprise conference champion. “He has a heart as big as his body. He only weighs about 128 pounds and I think his heart is about 100 of those.”
It was a turnaround performance for the Sooners, who finished fifth in the previous three conference championships.
Their fortunes had obviously turned with the Sooners entering the event they were hosting for the first time since first time since 2002 with the top seed in three weight classes and all three advanced to the finals.
Kyle Terry, who was defending his Big 12 title at 149 pounds, topped Iowa State’s Mitch Mueller, 4-2, to claim his second straight conference crown.
Shane Vernon edged Iowa State’s Neil Erisman to claim the 157-pound title.
But those two were expecting to win titles.
“We’re all wrestling really well. It’s a reflection on how we’ve been working,” said Vernon, who didn’t compete in last season’s conference tournament. “I’m proud of all the guys and coaches.”