Oklahoma State and Iowa face off Sunday in one of collegiate athletics’ top rivalries. The Cowboys won 30 NCAA titles between 1928 and ’94 and moved the total to 34 with four in a row from 2003-06. The Hawkeyes dominated college wrestling for almost three decades, winning 20 NCAA team titles from 1975-2000, including a run of nine in a row from 1978-86. Iowa also won six consecutive trophies from 1995-2000, and three in a row from 2008-10 for a grand total of 23.
Only eight other programs have claimed national team titles and they have a combined 25.
Last January, Iowa brought an 84-match unbeaten streak into a matchup with Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, in front of 15,000 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, ended that streak with a 17-16 victory on criteria after the two squads ended in a 16-16 tie. Had Iowa won it would have broken a similar unbeaten streak of 84 from 1959-66 by, you guessed it, Oklahoma State.
This rivalry is about much more than NCAA Championships. When these two get together for dual meets at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., or Carver-Hawkeye in Iowa City, Iowa, the atmosphere borders on the Hatfields and McCoys.
“This rivalry brings out the best in both sides and without question both schools want to win this dual,” Oklahoma State head coach John Smith said. “These meets are the ones the student-athletes remember down the road.”
Fifth-ranked Iowa knocked off No. 4 Ohio State last Friday in Iowa City and moved to 12-0 with a victory against No. 21 Purdue on Sunday. The Cowboys, ranked second, finished second at the Southern Scuffle and bring a 7-0 mark into the 47th all-time meeting. The series stands at 26-18-2 in Oklahoma State’s favor with the past three ending 19-16, 15-15, and 17-16.
Four of the 10 top-ranked individuals in the country — Iowa’s Matt McDonough (125) and Derek St. John (157) and Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver (149) and Chris Perry (174) — are expected to suit up.
• Perhaps it is time to change the name of the Southern Scuffle to the NCAA Preview. Penn State won the two-day tournament Jan. 1-2 in Chattanooga, Tenn., that included five of the top 10 teams in the country. Four of the 10 individual finals could prove to be previews of the NCAA finals come March, including Cornell’s Kyle Dake and Penn State’s David Taylor who met at 165 pounds. The two NCAA champions entered last Wednesday’s bout with a combined 194-5 career record and the bout lived up to the hype, albeit by only a 3-2 final score in Dake’s favor. Controversy aside — depending on which side of the aisle a fan is on — the two are on a collision course for Des Moines, Iowa.
The 174-, 184-, and 285-pound finals also included possible previews of a certain Saturday night in March. Perry edged Minnesota’s No. 2 Logan Storley at 174; Penn State’s Ed Ruth controlled Cornell’s Steve Bozak in a battle of two NCAA champions at 184; and Missouri’s Dom Bradley beat 2012 NCAA champion Tony Nelson of Minnesota for gold at 285. Two other NCAA champions, Oliver at 149 and Penn State’s Quentin Wright at 197, also claimed titles in an event in just its 10th year of existence.
The Midlands Championships celebrated its 50th anniversary Dec. 29-30. Illinois edged Virginia Tech for top honors. The title of toughest holiday tournament, the Midlands, has some competition.
• Two-time Ohio state champion Jedd Moore went 30-15 as a freshman and qualified for the NCAA Championships — in 2009. An injury kept him off the mat during the 2009-10 campaign and the first two months of the 2010-11 season. After going 19-7 as a junior, Moore, now a senior for the Virginia Cavaliers, advanced to the 157-pound finals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December but lost to Oregon State’s R. J. Pena 9-7. Moore bounced back in Chattanooga, moving to 21-4 with a 5-0 mark and a title at the Southern Scuffle.
“I stepped up a little bit, which is nice because I wanted that win at Vegas,” Moore said. “It was big for me to finally get that win, tournament-wise.”
Moore entered December ranked 11th and will be among those challenging for All-America honors this March.
• Two top-ranked wrestlers lost matches during the holidays. At the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill., Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson, ranked No. 1 at 149 pounds at the time, lost in the finals to Virginia Tech sophomore Nick Brascetta (16-1), who also beat former Iowa All-American Montell Marion during the tournament. NCAA champion Tony Nelson, unbeaten and ranked No. 1 at 285 pounds, lost in overtime to Missouri’s Dom Bradley (21-0) in the finals of the Southern Scuffle.
Four of the 10 weight classes in Division I have former NCAA champions not ranked No. 1 entering the second week of January. Joining Nelson are David Taylor (No. 2 at 165) and Quentin Wright (No. 3 at 197), and Steve Bozak (No. 2 at 184). Bozak lost for the second time this season on Sunday, falling to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin in the Big Red’s victory against the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh and Navy will face off Saturday afternoon in Annapolis, Md., for the 93rd time. The two programs first met in 1910 with the Midshipmen holding a 47-45 advantage in the series. … Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver picked up his 100th career victory, beating Air Force’s Cole VonOhlen in the 149-pound final at the Southern Scuffle. … Penn State won the Southern Scuffle by 20 1/2 points despite the absence of two starters, Andrew (149) and Dylan Alton (157). Backup James Vollrath lost in the finals at 157 pounds. … Ohio State senior Nikko Triggas picked up his 44th career pin Sunday. The 125-pounder needs six to tie the school record of 50 held by Don Moxley. … Boise State beat No. 10 Oregon State on Saturday in Corvallis, Ore., highlighted by Jason Chamberlain’s overtime victory against Scott Sakaguchi at 149 pounds. Sakaguchi beat Chamberlain (13-1) at the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this season. … The top Division II and III programs will compete in the NWCA National Duals in Springfield, Ill., this Saturday and Sunday. … Jim Miller, co-head coach of DIII powerhouse Wartburg, picked up his 400th career dual win at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas on Dec. 16. Taking over in 1991, Miller is 400-34-4. He has announced his retirement at the conclusion of this season.