NORMAN — Into the season of just about any team in any sport comes some adversity at some point. Consider a little adversity as having arrived for the 4th-ranked Oklahoma wrestling team, which fell 19-17 to No. 9 Northern Iowa Sunday at McCasland Field House.
It’s the first blemish in what has been a perfect season for OU as a team. The Sooners had won each of their first two tournaments as well as seven duals.
But the visiting Panthers found the momentum with several early victories and never looked back.
“Sometimes it takes courage to go out and attack how we ask you to, and I didn’t see it today,” said Sooner Head Coach Mark Cody.”I think they got some bonus points where we didn’t expect them to get them. I was really surprised even with the closer matches that we had.”
UNI was far from an outfit of slouches. The Panthers brought five individually ranked wrestlers to Norman, including Joe Colon, No. 1 at 133.
In fact, it was against Colon that OU’s Cody Brewer had, even in defeat, one of the shining points on the day for the Sooners.
Brewer was in
trouble after two first-period takedowns and a near-fall had him in a 6-1 hole, but battled back for the only two remaining takedowns in the match and threatened a couple of times to turn Colon to his back before eventually falling 7-5. It’s just his third loss this year against 14 wins.
Sooner Justin DeAngelis, ranked for the first time this year at No. 19 at 157 pounds, also had a big moment with an astonishing six takedowns in the final 70 seconds to tie his match with UNI’s Jarrett Jensen at 15-15. He then scored a quick takedown in overtime to win.
Now 13-3 on the season, DeAngelis just keeps making strides.
“He’s done several matches like that where the guy comes out technically maybe a little more sound, but DeAngelis just has so much heart and so much fight that you have to be ready to battle,” Cody said. “You’re never safe, no matter how far ahead you are with him.”
Along with the pain of dropping their first dual, the Sooners suffered some real pain. No. 7 Dylan Peters of UNI defeated No. 5 Jarrod Patterson at 125, aided by what at first appeared to be a serious knee injury the Sooner suffered midway in the third period. The senior from Cushing finished the match and came back out with his knee iced later, but Cody had some good news after the dual and said the early prognosis on the injury is better than expected.
After Brewer’s close loss at 133, No. 10 Nick Lester was reversed and pinned just 66 seconds into his match with No. 15 Joey Lazor, putting the Sooners in a 12-0 hole they couldn’t recover from.
Sooner senior Andrew Howe continued his undefeated season by thrashing UNI’s Cody Caldwell 22-8, while defending national champion Kendric Maple also scored a major decision, 10-1 against UNI’s Tyler Patten. Also winning for Oklahoma were Travis Rutt at 197 and Ross Larson at heavyweight.
This was Oklahoma’s third dual in 10 days since returning from a month-long break for the semester break and holidays. The Sooners previously scored a 33-9 victory at Wyoming and 27-11 triumph against always-tough Iowa State, both away from home.
The Sooners go back on the road Saturday to face Oregon State before returning home Jan. 30 to face former Big 12 rival Missouri.
Despite one defeat, the goals remain the same.
“We just need to keep progressing here in the final stretch, the last two months until nationals and then have a great tournament,” Howe said.
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