OSU wrestling: Cowboys, Weigel win Big 12 team title on sad day for the Smith family

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Oklahoma State's Preston Weigel picks up Iowa State's Willie Miklus during the final round of the Big 12 Wrestling Championship at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Sunday, March 10.

It was an emotional night for Coach John Smith, and it had nothing to do with the wrestling tournament. 

Smith was emotional after the Oklahoma State wrestling team clinched its seventh straight Big 12 title as he told the media his father, Lee Roy Smith Sr., had passed away around 9:00 p.m. Sunday night. 

Smith said the last thing his father was concerned about before passing away was the Big 12 wrestling tournament. 

“What a great run,” Smith said. “Great father. Father of 10. Had about 50 grandchildren, about 15 great-grandchildren. I was lucky to have a father that cared.

“I’ve been blessed, and my family’s been blessed. I didn’t have any intentions of talking about my father, but I’m a proud son.”

It was OSU’s 53rdteam conference title. The Cowboys had seven wrestlers in the finals Sunday night, with only one of them losing. Kaid Brock was defeated by fall against Dom Demas of Oklahoma at 141 pounds. Demas was named outstanding wrestler of the tournament. 

At 197, Preston Weigel dominated, going 4-0 and outscoring his opponents 41-0. At one point this season, Smith said he didn’t even think Weigel would wrestle again because of injuries. 

“It was one day after Bedlam, we thought he was done,” Smith said. “We started making adjustments pretty quickly, moving people around.”

Smith said he thought battling injuries might have changed Weigel’s perspective. 

“When you know that maybe you’ve lost something, it gives you a new look at how much you value what you’re doing,” Smith said. “Maybe Preston thought at one time, ‘It’s over, I’m done.’ Somewhere in there he realized, ‘I’m not ready to be done.’

“Since he’s been inserted into the lineup in February, he’s really boosted his game to another level.”

Sunday night’s victory against Willie Miklus of Iowa State was Weigel’s third conference championship. Weigel said the Big 12 tournament was just a stepping stone for him. 

“One step closer to nationals,” Weigel said. “It’s fun. I’m enjoying it all. We got a good team and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Weigel said winning a third Big 12 title means a lot, but that his focus is on bigger goals. 

“It means something,” Weigel said. “The big show is next, that’s what means a lot you know what I mean? This means a lot too, but nationals is where it’s at. This doesn’t put that All-American status on you.”

Although his mood was somber, for obvious reasons, Smith held up the t-shirt his team got for winning the Big 12 title. 

“This can’t get old,” Smith said. “Our conference has been historically a great conference in wrestling, a lot of national championships… We’re proud to continue that tradition of strong wrestling in the Big 12.

“It’d be a pretty lonely night if I didn’t have this. Makes the night a little bit easier to deal with.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com