After waiting almost a year, Nick Piccininni finally got his shot at revenge.
When No. 4 Piccininni, the 125-pound starter on the Oklahoma State wrestling team, faced off against No. 2 Spencer Lee on Sunday, it was not the first time the two had met on the big stage.
The pair had met twice before on the mat, with the most recent of the two meetings coming in the quarterfinal of last year’s NCAA tournament, where Lee pinned Piccininni in the second period.
Sunday was Piccininni's chance to get one back, and he did not let it slip through his fingers.
With the match scoreless heading into the second period, Piccininni pinned Lee with five seconds left in the period to put a quick six points on the board for the Cowboys.
“I knew that was big for our team,” Piccininni said. “Obviously if you start off with six points it's always going to carry over. For me it was a big feat and for our team I knew it was gonna light us up.”
John Smith, coach of the No. 2 Cowboys, said the pin in the first bout caught even him by surprise.
“I don’t think you expect that,” Smith said. “He put himself in a position to find a pinning move and then put him away. It’s one thing to put a guy to his back and it’s another thing to pin him. You gotta give Nick credit, no question that he started us off the way you look to in big dual meets.”
Gallagher-Iba Arena boasted a 13,811-person sellout for OSU’s (15-0) 27-12 victory against No. 3 Iowa (14-1) on Sunday, and with Piccininni's pin starting the match off, the crowd made an impact from the start of the dual.
“We’re so trained and we’ve been in these environments,” Piccininni said. “This is probably one of the bigger things I’ve been a part of. We’ve all been there before so we know what to expect.”
In the following match, No. 2 Daton Fix defeated Austin DeSanto 2-0 at 133. Fix said that with such a tough matchup, the result of the 125-pound match just before was a big motivator for him.
“It fired me up,” Fix said. “ The crowd was so loud after Nick pinned the defending national champ, and I was ready to go.”
Not only was this a big win for Piccininni against a guy who he was 0-2 against, but it also capped an undefeated regular season for the Cowboy. He is 26-0 on the season, with only four matches lacking bonus-point wins.
He said he has noticed a major difference in his performance this season as opposed to the few prior.
“I’ve been feeling like a different person this year,” Piccininni said. “Confidence level is through the roof, and I just knew I was a little bit different his year.”