NORMAN — COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oklahoma brought a healthier team to the wrestling mat in the first day of the NWCA National Duals, and the results followed, as the Sooners scored a pair of tight victories to reach the final four of the tournament today.
The No. 11-ranked Sooners scored a 25-16 quarterfinal win against Central Michigan that followed a 21-15 victory against Bloomsburg in the opening round of the tournament.
The Sooners got a lift from the return of senior Jarrod Patterson, who had missed the past month due to a knee injury. The nation’s No. 7-ranked 125-pounder scored a pair of decision victories, 5-0 against Bloomsburg’s Sean Boylan and 9-2 against No. 16 Corey Keener of CMU.
And OU needed those opening victories in each tightly-contested dual. Against Central Michigan, things went back and forth and eventually came down to Sooner heroics in the final two matches.
With his team trailing 16-15, OU senior Travis Rutt bounced back from a defeat earlier in the day to dominate Central Michigan’s Jackson Lewis for a 13-3 major decision at 197, staking the Sooners to a 19-16 lead going into the heavyweight contest.
Ross Larson was up to the challenge, matching the clutch performance he put on in Bedlam in December by pinning CMU’s Adam Robinson just 1:42 into the match.
It was the early part of the Sooner lineup that showed the way in the opening round victory against Bloomsburg.
The Sooners won at each of the first five weights, including major decisions from Nick Lester at 141 and Kendric Maple at 149 and a back-and-forth 12-11 victory for Justin DeAngelis, who returned to the lineup at 157 after missing the past two duals with an ear injury.
From there it was a struggle, as the lone winner in the second half of the dual was Andrew Howe, who bumped up to 184 and scored a 20-7 major decision.
Howe moved back to his normal weight at 174 and was pushed hard in his second match of the day, eventually scoring a 4-2 decision against No. 9-ranked Mike Ottinger of Central Michigan. That keeps the former national champion as the Sooners’ only unbeaten wrestler at 21-0.
The Sooners face No. 4 Cornell in the semifinals at noon today, with the winner taking on the victor between No. 1 Minnesota and No. 13 Ohio State in the finals at 3 p.m. The semifinal losers will wrestle a third-place match at 3 p.m. as well.
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