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OSU wrestling: Lower weights torch Lehigh, catapult Cowboys to victory

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Oklahoma State's Nick Piccininni and wrestles Lehigh's Luke Resnick during the Oklahoma State wrestling team dual vs. Lehigh at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Feb. 3, 2019.

The Oklahoma State wrestling team is getting used to having leads early in duals. 

The trend continued Sunday when the Cowboys defeated Lehigh 27-6 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. 

The dual started at 125 pounds with Nick Piccininni facing Lehigh’s (7-9 overall, 4-2 Big 12) Luke Resnick. Piccininni did what he’s done all year. He won.

With the victory, Piccininni improved to 24-0. He’s made it a habit to start duals off with bonus-point victories. Of his 24 wins, only four haven’t been bonus-point wins. 

“It’s always nice to have somebody starting you off with a win,” Coach John Smith said. “Not only in duals but tournaments as well. I can’t think of anyone better than Nick. He had a good start.”

Smith said despite the undefeated record, Piccininni has flown somewhat under the radar this season for the Cowboys (12-0, 8-0). 

“It’s been a little bit quiet,” Smith said. “Nothing wrong with that. Just keep doing what you’re doing and recognize it gets a little tougher at the end.”

Daton Fix followed Piccininni’s victory with a 7-1 decision. Fix struggled to score points like he usually does, partly because of how his opponent, Brandon Paetzell, wrestled him. Paetzell had one stalling warning, and Smith was yelling at the refs for more. 

“Daton came out and struggled a little bit with his offense,” Smith said. “Kinda didn’t recognize a little strategic wrestling from the Lehigh guy. I think most of you know what that strategic wrestling was. But you still gotta score points, it don’t really matter.”

At 149, Kaden Gfeller won by decision 13-8. Gfeller, Fix and Piccininni have a record of 71-3, with all three of those losses coming on the same weekend from Fix and Gfeller. 

Andrew Shomers, who won 10-9 at 165, said it is a boost for the rest of the team when the lower weights start good. 

“Oh it is huge,” Shomers said. “It sets the momentum for the team. They’re all exciting guys to watch and wrestle. They get us pumped on the bench, they get the rest of the team flowing after them.”

Adding to the quick start was Kaid Brock, who won at 141 by major decision 12-4. Brock bounced back from a tough loss Friday against Northern Iowa. He led by one with 7 seconds left before No. 6 Josh Alber took him down. 

Wyatt Sheets followed Gfeller’s match with a 7-5 win in sudden victory, a match that brought the Gallagher-Iba crowd to its feet. Sheets said the quick starts from the lower weights are always beneficial to the other wrestlers. 

“It’s huge, it’s big for the whole team,” Sheets said. “They all like to get the momentum going. They’re fun to watch, they put up points. I think it gets everyone excited.” 

sports.ed@ocolly.com