NORMAN — Wrestling is a strange sport.
Only on the mat could a team like Oklahoma, 7-11 in dual matches this season, still be ranked No. 9 by InterMat.
Also, maybe, only on the mat could OU skipper Mark Cody think so highly of his team’s chances at the NCAA meet after it lost 6 of 7 duals leading up to the national meet.
“Top four,” he said he could envision his squad finishing. “That means everybody wrestles to their potential at the tournament, and wrestling to their potential is doable.”
The Sooners are sending five grapplers to the national meet, which begins today inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. And that’s enough to do some serious damage, especially if unbeaten and No. 2 seed, Kendric Maple, at 141 pounds, wins the national title everybody in the OU wrestling room believes he will.
“I know he’s going to win this year,” said Bubby Graham, the Sooners’ 165-pounder. “He’s got the mental toughness, he’s got the physical ability. Just as long as he stays calm and knows that he can win, he’s going to dominate his way through.”
Then there’s Graham himself, the only senior among the Sooner five, a No. 6 seed, but a guy Cody believes “can definitely win an NCAA title … and the reason is he wrestles hard enough every time he’s out there to put himself in a position to win.”
Cody Brewer, OU’s entrant at 133 pounds, will bring a 21-6 mark into the brackets and the No. 8 seed. And, almost casually, here’s how Cody described Brewer’s chances:
“Brewer wouldn’t surprise me to see him place,” he said, “to see him get to the finals of the tournament.”
Unseeded, yet in the brackets, are the Lesters, Nick (149 pounds) and Matt (157). If they can put it together, who knows? Maybe a seemingly long season on the mat can still come up roses for the Sooners.