Oklahoma State wins Big 12; Chris Perry earns fourth conference title
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma State won its 12th Big 12 team championship and 48th conference title on Saturday at McCasland Field House in Norman, Okla. The day was highlighted by Chris Perry's 3-2 upset against top-ranked Andrew Howe of Oklahoma in the 174-pound finals.
Six Cowboys took home individual titles, while three produced runner-up finishes and Blake Rosholt took home a third-place medal at 197 pounds.
Perry was also named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.
"Today was good from a standpoint of that first round kind of set the pace for us," Coach John Smith said. "Pushing nine of the 10 into the finals is always a good thing when you're in the Big 12 because you really position your team to win. The final round I thought was pretty good. I'm not mad, but there were a couple of things I would have liked to see differently, but overall it takes a team effort, and this team today definitely gave the effort."
Eddie Klimara took to the mat for the Cowboys in the first championship bout of the night, facing All-American Jarrod Patterson of OU at 125 pounds. Klimara kept it a tight match but Patterson's 1:02 riding time advantage gave him the 4-3 victory over Klimara.
Senior Jon Morrison finished his final conference tournament with his second-consecutive Big 12 crown. Morrison earned his sixth career win over OU's Cody Brewer with an 8-1 decision.
Collica became the 19th freshman in school history to win a conference title. He defeated Iowa State's Gabe Moreno, 4-2, to earn his first Big 12 title at 141 pounds.
"It was real cool winning my first Big 12 title," Collica said. "The matches today -- I had some tough ones. I had to toughen up, rode hard in the third to win both, and just had to out-tough the other guy. That's what it's about."
At 149 pounds, Josh Kindig, the No. 2 seed, took on top-seeded Kendric Maple from OU. The last time the two met in Norman, Kindig upset the 2013 national champion, 4-3; however, this time Kindig could not pull off another upset and dropped the match, 6-3.
Sophomore Alex Dieringer took home his second conference title in just as many attempts at 157 pounds. Dieringer faced OU's Justin DeAngelis, whom he defeated with ease, 8-3.
Senior and former Sooner Tyler Caldwell earned his second Big 12 title of his career -- both during his time as a Cowboy -- defeating ISU's Michael Moreno with a 12-1 major decision.
The championship round skipped ahead to the 184-pound bout as the 174-pound championship was scheduled to be the night's finale.
Redshirt freshman Nolan Boyd faced Lelund Weatherspoon of ISU. Boyd led the whole match, but a takedown by Weatherspoon with just seconds left in the match gave him the advantage and the 4-3 win over Boyd.
Austin Marsden was the next finalist for the Pokes at heavyweight. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native took on WVU's A.J. Vizcarrondo, the tournament's No. 2 seed. Marsden won his first conference title with a 5-2 decision.
The day's most awaited match was saved for last as Perry and Howe went head-to-head in the final bout of the night. Several controversial and reviewed calls created an intense atmosphere as the two battled it out to be the Big 12's best. Perry snagged two escapes, while Howe picked up the bout's only takedown, but it was Perry's riding time advantage that secured the Cowboy's fourth Big 12 title.
"It's nice to win four. I really didn't pay much attention to it coming in," Perry said. "As a whole, I just felt relaxed. I just felt good all week, so to come in here and beat him was big for me. If I can beat him here, I know I can beat him anywhere. He'll be ready in Oklahoma City, and I'm not even thinking forward to if I wrestle him, unless it happens. I've been in tight matches with a lot of guys this year, and I've just got to focus and worry about myself and not worry about the other competitors. I've just got to come out and execute. I believe in myself. I love winning, and I believe March is my time every year."
The Cowboys will be back in action in Oklahoma City on March 20-22 to compete in the NCAA wrestling championships.
"We're behind from a standpoint of the top teams. We're going to have to close the gap," Smith said. "You've got several guys that have low rankings, and that doesn't put you in a very good position. But we closed the gap last year, and that's something we're going to have to do. We're going to have to wrestle above our seeds if we're going to do well."