Andrew Howe and Travis Rutt both began their collegiate wrestling careers in the fall of 2008 at Wisconsin.
They spent three years in Madison before taking a year off to pursue their Olympic dreams, a move allowed by the NCAA. Then, after taking their “Olympic redshirt” they chose to transfer in tandem to Norman, where they then took the typical redshirt collegiate athletes may utilize once. Now, after two years away from the competitive collegiate mat, they’re back.
Howe is the headliner.
He already has three Big 10 championships under his belt, the 2010 national title at 165 pounds and, on each side of that, a runner-up and third-place finish at the NCAA meet. At 174 pounds, he’ll enter the season ranked No. 1 by InterMat.
Rutt placed seventh at the 2011 NCAA meet at 184 pounds, and could be poised to go a bit further two years later at 197.
“With an Olympic year and a redshirt year under his belt, he’s gained knowledge, better technical skills and maturity,” Cody said or Rutt. “He is as hungry to win an NCAA championship as anyone I’ve ever been around.”
For years and years and years OU has been one of the nation’s premiere wrestling programs. Also, it has perpetually been the second best program in the state to Bedlam rival Oklahoma State and, after winning five national championships between 1951 and 1963, is still looking for its first national title since Stan Abel’s Sooners did the deed in 1974.
Five of the six All-Americans will be finished at season’s end.
This is the year.
The Sooners feel it.
“There’s definitely a different vibe,” Maple said. “With six All-Americans coming back, we have the talent to do it. We just need to perform and all show up. We’re ready for it.”