Big 12 Wrestling: Oklahoma State crowns seven champions, wins team title
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the second year in a row, Oklahoma State wrestling leaves the Big 12 Championships with seven conference champions and a team title after a round of solid performances in the finals on Sunday afternoon.
"I think when you have nine finalists, you're going to get some good with some bad. That's what we had tonight," coach John Smith said. "Overall, we had seven champs, and I felt like two or three of them just held onto their wins and that's something we have to recognize. Two weeks from now, we can't do that. I'm glad the team felt like Oklahoma State was the team that needed to win it. This was the first time we've had a 10-team conference tournament and it's good to see Oklahoma State win."
The Cowboys shattered the record for the most points scored at the tournament with 160. The previous record was also set by OSU in 2013 with 118.5 points. They also set the record for largest margin of victory in Big 12 history, separating themselves from the second-place team, OU, by 61 points. The previous high was 46.5 set by the Pokes in 2005.
Not only did OSU storm past the rest of the Big 12 for the team title but it also qualified all 10 wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.
Winning the first title of the day for the Pokes was Dean Heil, a sophomore for the Cowboys, who claimed his second Big 12 title in as many attempts with a 5-3 win over South Dakota State's Seth Gross, the No. 3 seed. Heil now sits at 27-1 heading into the NCAA Championships.
"Yes, I am winning, but I'm not winning the way I want to win," Heil said. "I get these wins against great guys, and it looks great on paper, but that's where I want to work on being more consistent. Going into this tournament, Coach Smith had made the point that heavily projected to win, but what really matters in the end is how we win. In that first round of the tournament we got more pins than we have gotten all season. For me, it's all about how we win versus just winning."
Anthony Collica was the only wrestler to score bonus points in the finals as he majored No. 3 Davion Jeffries of OU in the 149-pound final, 11-3. His five takedowns were more than enough to earn him a third Big 12 title. He was the only Cowboy to win all of his matches with bonus points at this weekend's tournament as he secured two wins by fall earlier in the tourney.
At 157 pounds, Joe Smith faced top-seeded and sixth-ranked Cody Pack from South Dakota State in his first Big 12 finals. The true freshman got off to a quick start, taking down Pack in the first 30 seconds. He continued to build on his lead, notching takedowns in the second and third periods. He gave up four escapes en route to a decisive 8-4 win.
"I felt like I wrestled OK," Smith said. "I have been off the mat for about three-and-a-half weeks in competition. It was nice getting back out there. I wrestled a pretty tough guy, so it was nice to see some tough competition and to feel that burn again. Now I just need to get ready for NCAAs."
Senior Alex Dieringer became only the seventh Cowboy in program history to win four conference titles as he picked up a 4-2 decision over No. 2 seed Tanner Weatherman of Iowa State. Only able to score two takedowns on a hesitant Weatherman, Dieringer's win by decision gives him a 77-match streak and a perfect 28-0 record on the season.
"Today I won 4-2, so I am unhappy with it, and I'm never really happy about a win if I don't get any bonus points," Dieringer said. "It kind of sucks, but overall our team did really well and I am happy about all of their performances. It's good to see the team do so well. Coach told us that we were supposed to win, but we needed to wrestle like it too, and that's what we have been doing. It's good to see that especially two weeks before nationals."
Nolan Boyd brought the crowd to its feet after taking the title at 184 pounds against No. 1 seed Hayden Zillmer from North Dakota State in an 8-7 nail biter. Boyd quickly jumped in front with a takedown in the first five seconds. Two third-period takedowns from Zillmer tied the bout at 7-7. A crazy scramble at the end led to the officials awarding no points to either wrestler. After a NDSU coaches' review, the call stood and Boyd won the match 8-7 with riding time advantage. It is his second conference title.
"I know that anything can happen," Boyd said. "I could have given in to the pressure and not shown up, or I become a Big 12 champion. I knew if I went out there and cut loose, things would go my way. Even without these great wins, I have such a great opportunity here. I'm part of an incredible school, and I have incredible teammates, coaches and fans. I owe a lot of it to them because they're what push me. I haven't wasted a second of it, at least I try not to."
Fifth-seeded Preston Weigel continued to shock the Big 12, taking out the No. 2 seed, Nate Rotert of South Dakota State at 197 pounds. Rotert scored first with an escape to open the second period, but an escape from Weigel in the third period paired with a takedown and riding time gave Weigel the 4-3 win and his first Big 12 title.
"I have been going to practice every single day, and giving it all I got every time," Weigel said. "It takes a lot of work, and now I am just focused on getting ready for nationals."
Finally, senior Austin Marsden became the final Big 12 Champion for the Pokes, picking up his third conference title after a dominant win over Wyoming's Tanner Harms. Marsden struck first with a takedown in the first and wrapped it up with a takedown in the third for a 6-3 decision.
Senior Eddie Klimara nearly made eight conference champions for the Cowboys, but lost in the final seconds of tiebreaker one to Ryan Milhoff, 5-4, in the 125-pound bout. Klimara wraps up his career at the Big 12 tournament as a two-time champion.
Chandler Rogers also fell in the finals, falling to Lelund Weatherspoon in an action-packed 174-pound final, 8-5. He holds a 26-7 record after his first Big 12 tournament.
Gary Wayne Harding's fourth-place finish at 133 pounds secured the 10th Cowboy spot at the NCAA Championships.
The Pokes head to NYC in search of their 35th NCAA title on March 17-19 at Madison Square Garden.
Big 12 Championships
125: No. 1 Ryan Milhoff (OU) dec. No. 2 Eddie Klimara (OSU), 5-4 TB1
141: No. 1 Dean Heil (OSU) dec. No. 3 Seth Gross (SDSU), 5-3
149: No. 1 Anthony Collica (OSU) MD No. 3 Davion Jeffries (OU), 11-3
157: No. 2 Joe Smith (OSU) dec. No. 1 Cody Pack (SDSU), 8-4
165: No. 1 Alex Dieringer (OSU) dec. No. 2 Tanner Weatherman (ISU), 4-2
174: No. 3 Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU) dec. No. 1 Chandler Rogers (OSU), 8-5
184: No. 2 Nolan Boyd (OSU) dec. No. 1 Hayden Zillmer (NDSU), 8-7
197: No. 5 Preston Weigel (OSU) dec. No. 2 Nate Rotert (SDSU), 4-3
285: No. 1 Austin Marsden (OSU) dec. No. 3 Tanner Harms (WYO), 6-3
125: No. 2 Eddie Klimara (OSU) dec. No. 6 Chasen Tolbert (UVU), 6-2
133: No. 2 Earl Hall (ISU) MD No. 6 Gary Wayne Harding (OSU), 16-8
141: No. 1 Dean Heil (OSU) dec. No. 4 Mitch Bengston (NDSU), 4-1
149: No. 1 Anthony Collica (OSU) fall No. 4 Timmy Box (UNC), 6:10
157: No. 2 Joe Smith (OSU) MD No. 6 Eleazer DeLuca (UNC), 13-2
165: No. 1 Alex Dieringer (OSU) TF No. 4 Connor Flynn (WVU), 17-1, 4:05
174: No. 1 Chandler Rogers (OSU) dec. No. 4 David Kocer (SDSU), 10-8
184: No. 2 Nolan Boyd (OSU) MD No. 3 Jacob Scheffel (WVU), 10-1
197: No. 5 Preston Weigel (OSU) dec. No. 9 Pat Downey (ISU), 6-2
285: No. 1 Austin Marsden (OSU) dec. No. 5 Dustin Dennison (UVU), 6-2
133: No. 6 Gary Wayne Harding (OSU) fall No. 8 Keegan Moore (WVU), 7:22
133: No. 4 Jade Rauser (UVU) fall Gary Wayne Harding (OSU), 1:15
Final Team Standings
1. Oklahoma State - 161
2. Oklahoma – 72
3. Iowa State- 87
4. South Dakota State - 77
5. Wyoming – 71.5
6. West Virginia – 65.5
7. North Dakota State – 62.5
8. Utah Valley – 60.5
9. Air Force – 39.5
9. Northern Colorado – 30.5