By Scott Moore
To those around Josh Weitzel: Don’t make a big deal out of his match today. He doesn’t want to hear it.
Truth is, though, it is a big deal. Weitzel, Oklahoma’s seventh-ranked 184-pounder, will go up against Iowa State’s top-ranked Jake Varner when the Sooners host the Cyclones at 7 p.m., today.
Weitzel vs. Varner will be the marquee match of the night. Both are unbeaten, Weitzel at 19-0 and Varner at 17-0.
That’s probably still too much information for Weitzel.
“I haven’t really tried to get excited about it,” Weitzel said. “I don’t want to try and set it up as a big match. Every match is big when you’re a senior.”
The two teams have a combined 14 ranked wrestlers. OU’s ranked wrestlers include No. 13 Brian Shelton at 133, No. 14 Zack Bailey at 141, No. 9 Will Rowe at 149, No. 20 Chad Terry at 157 and No. 3 Joel Flaggert at 197.
“The Cyclones and the Sooners have two of the premiere traditions in the sport and we expect it to be a battle,” OU coach Jack Spates said. “There are going to be some great matchups, with both schools having numerous wrestlers ranked. Iowa State dominated us last season, and this team wants to ensure that does not happen again.”
Other key bouts will be Bailey against No. 20 Nick Gallick, Terry against No. 6 Cyler Sanderson and Flaggert vs. No. 20 David Bertolino.
The Sooners, ranked 18th, lost their last dual. No. 13 Wisconsin beat OU 17-15 Sunday in Oklahoma City, dropping the Sooners to 11-2.
Iowa State is 11-3 and ranked No. 9. The Cyclones beat Wisconsin 24-18 Friday.
This will be Iowa State’s first Big 12 Conference dual, while OU is 0-1. The Cyclones have beaten the Sooners five straight times.
“Our team is looking forward to getting back to Big 12 competition against an extremely talented Iowa State squad,” Spates said. “The Big 12 has proven to be the toughest conference in the country. Our team has to be hitting on all cylinders going into this weekend.”
Weitzel did do a little more preparation for this match than he normally does, watching a few videos of Varner.
“Most people haven’t said anything to me about it,” Weitzel said. “Even the coaches really haven’t said anything. They understand how I prepare for matches.
“I’m just trying to enjoy my season. I’m not big on setting long-term goals. I try to set short, weekly goals. Since this is my last year, I’m just trying to take everything in. This is the last time I’ll be feeling some of the things I’m feeling. I’m focusing more on the journey and the process than the results.”