OSU wrestling: Takeaways from the OCU open

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Reece Witcraft OCU Open

Oklahoma State's Reece Witcraft after defeating NEO's Mikey Mascarenas on Saturday during the Oklahoma City University Open at Abe Lemons Arena in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma State wrestling team wrapped up the OCU open with nine individual titles as well as the team title.

Here are my takeaways from the first action of the season:

Boo Lewallen

Heading into the OCU open, there were fewer question marks than Boo Lewallen. At his best, he is an All-American and possible national title contender.

The problem for Lewallen is that he has the worst injury history of any OSU wrestler and has missed multiple seasons due them. He managed to wrestle in two duals last season, but had to forfeit both due to injuries suffered in the match.

Lewallen had something to prove coming into the tournament. Not only that he was back and healthy, but he won the last two tournaments and had a title to defend at 149 pounds.

He did that, and then some. 

Lewallen totaled 24 team points on his way to winning his third title, which was third on the team.

Reece Witcraft could be the real deal

Coming in as a true freshman to your first collegiate tournament can be a daunting task that overwhelms many athletes. 

Reece Witcraft was not one of those athletes. 

Witcraft injured his left knee in his first match of the day at 133. A knee that would have to be looked at throughout the day to make sure he could continue competing.

In his first match, a 17-7 major decision, it was not a defining factor. In his second, however, it almost cost him a title. 

Down 13-4 to Mikey Mascarenas of Northeastern Oklahoma, Witcraft had another injury timeout to check his injury. When the timeout was done, he went outscored Mascarenas 12-1 on his way to a quarterfinal victory. 

Two matches later, he clinched his first collegiate title, totaling 26 points to lead OSU. 

184 is the Cowboys strongest weight

At the end of last season, 133 was no question going to be the Cowboys strongest weight.

OSU had national title runner-up Daton Fix and All-American Kaid Brock to choose from.

One Olympic Redshirt and one torn ACL later and the Cowboys were left reeling to find other weights to lean on while the new starter at 133 is figured out.

That weight might just be 184.

Dakota Geer, an All-American last season, and Anthony Montalvo have competed all offseason to determine a starter at the weight with the backup possibly moving up to 197. 

With the field that this tournament provides, there is usually a chance for two Cowboys to face-off in the final for a weight. 

There were four weights in which that happened on Saturday.

One of those, and possibly the most interesting of the four, was 184. This was the lone case that coach John Smith chose not to have his wrestlers face off. They instead forfeited the match. 

Smith has said that there would be ranking matches next week to determine the starters and that seems to be the reason as to why he chose to skip this matchup.

The No-Shows

OSU featured 28 total wrestlers both attached and unattached, but when looking at the bracket there were three notable absentees.

Kaden Gfeller, Joe Smith and Neal Putnam the projected starters at 141, 174 and heavyweight, respectively, were not present. 

This could be due to a number of reasons, but there are two that would make the most sense. 

1. They suffered some sort of injury or illness during the past week and could not physically participate. 

2. John Smith decided that there were wrestlers that needed the experience more than the trio.

Either way, there are no signs that they will miss any time beyond Saturday and should all be ready to go against Drexel next Friday. 

Despite not having usual starters at 141 and 174, OSU had a pair of wrestlers that took the opportunity and ran with it all the way to an individual title. 

Redshirt junior Dusty Hone was Kaid Brock’s backup at 141 for most of last season and projects to do the same for Gfeller this time around. 

On Saturday, however, it was his time to shine. Hone won all three of his matches and finished with 23 team points.

At 174, redshirt freshman Gavin Stika won a title of his own.

He totaled 21.5 team points capped off by a 6-0 decision against Gage McBride of UCO in his final match.

sports.ed@ocolly.com