When the No. 2 Oklahoma State wrestling team heads to Tulsa on Saturday, it will be the heavy favorite as it looks for a seventh straight Big 12 title.
Here are three things to look for:
Dakota Geer’s return to the mat
The last time Dakota Geer wrestled for OSU was at 197 in the Cowboys' 27-6 victory against No. 20 Lehigh on Feb. 8. He has taken the last month to prepare for this weekend in Tulsa, where he is the No. 3 seed at 184.
With over a month to prepare, Geer will easily be the freshest of any wrestler at the competition. He said he thinks it has prepared him to succeed in Tulsa and to qualify for the national tournament.
“I feel like it’s given me a lot more time to train and I’ve got a lot more practice in on my own,” Geer said. “I haven’t had to worry about being tired or anything. If anything, it’s helped me get ready for big twelves and nationals.”
Greer, who is wrestling in his first season at OSU since transferring from Edinboro along with teammate Andrew Shomers, said there is a large difference in the caliber of wrestlers between OSU and the Eastern Wrestling League, which Edinboro wrestles in.
“At Edinboro, we were just hoping to get an All-American, but here we're expected to win the whole thing,” Geer said. “There’s definitely a different mentality in the team and what your teammates and coaches expect out of you.”
The Cowboys will see three wrestlers shift weights from what they have been wrestling at all season to the weight that they will compete at for the Big 12 tournament.
Along with Geer moving to 184, Jacobe Smith will move from 184 to 174 and is ranked as the No. 1 seed despite not competing at the weight since December.
Smith said that he feels that wrestling at 174 will give him a clear edge that he did not have at the higher weight.
“Strength,” Smith said. “It’s more of a control strength rather than bursting to go score. Just being smart and having good tactics with my strength instead of just trying to power through to go score.”
Joe Smith (No relation) will be the Cowboys starter at 165 after defeating teammate Chandler Rogers in a wrestle off for the position on Monday night. Smith has not competed at 165 this season, but he is 14-4 at 174 and will be the No. 8 seed.
With the Cowboys starting a two-time All-American regardless the outcome of the Smith/Rogers “Ranking” match, OSU coach John Smith said it was something that had to be done, and he thinks it will give his team it’s best chance to win.
“We’re Oklahoma State and we need to put our best team out and be competitive,” Smith said. “We take pride in that.”
With six No. 1 seeds, the Cowboys will not be in need of skill in Tulsa, but they will feature four newcomers to the Big 12 tournament. Geer will be in his first Big 12 and second conference tournament in college, while Daton Fix (133), Kaden Gfeller (149) and Wyatt Sheets (157) will compete in their first conference tournaments
Though it will be their first time at the Big 12 tournament, Fix and Gfeller are familiar with winning on the big stage. At Sand Springs and Heritage Hall, respectively, they combined for a 301-0 high school record and eight state titles. They will both be No. 1 seeds.
Sheets has gone 15-11 in his sophomore season and will be the No. 4 seed at 157. The Big 12 was given one automatic qualifier at the 157 weight class, so he will have to win the weight to secure the spot in the national tournament.