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Two former All-Americans make their return to the mat in Cowboys' victory against Air Force

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OSU's Christian Bahl takes on Air Force's Randy Meneweather II during the No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. Air Force Big 12 Conference wrestling dual at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater on Feb. 8, 2019.

The last time Preston Weigel and Chandler Rogers competed in the same dual was almost two months ago when the Oklahoma State wrestling team dominated Oklahoma in Stillwater.

Weigel, an All-American and two-time Big-12 champion, made his season debut against the Sooners and has not wrestled since.

Rogers, a two-time All-American in his own right, has not wrestled since Jan. 2 after sustaining an injury in the Southern Scuffle.

Both wrestlers made their return to the mat in the Cowboys’ 39-0 victory against Air Force on Friday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Rogers was going to compete last week in the No. 2 Cowboys’ victory against Lehigh. Coach John Smith, however, decided to give Rogers another week of rest.

“I gave him the best opportunity to be healthy and finish his season,” Smith said. “That extra week I think makes a difference because it gets him in the (training) room and he gets to work that leg a little more.”

Rogers, at 165, started the dual for the Cowboys (13-0, 8-0 Big 12) against the Falcons’ Jacoby Ward.

After scoring an early takedown, Rogers proceeded to gain over a minute of riding time in the first period.

Ward was able to escape, giving Rogers the 2-1 lead after the first period.

In the second period, Ward caught Rogers off-guard with a two-point takedown.

Rogers was able to escape with less than a minute left to tie it at three going into the last period.

A back-and-forth period proceeded between the two as the clock continued to count down.

With 24 seconds left, Rogers was able to secure a takedown gaining a 6-4 lead.

Holding on for dear life, Rogers held Ward down until the buzzer sounded, winning the match.

Smith was pleased to see Rogers score the takedown late for the victory in his comeback match.

“Good for him, going out and getting that last takedown and getting his hand raised,” Smith said.

With the Cowboys winning 9-0 going into 197 weight class, Smith had a decision to make.

Have Dakota Greer, who has competed at 197 since Weigel’s injury, or give Weigel a chance to compete.

He decided to give Weigel the go-ahead to compete.

“You get into the season and you don’t have many more matched left so you need some under your belt before you go into the Big 12 (Championship),” Smith said.

Weigel, who has been plagued with injuries since his junior season, got the start against Anthony McLaughlin.

Unlike Rogers match where he tried to score early takedowns and points, Weigel started the match off conservatively.

Neither wrestler managed to score a point in the first period.

After escaping while on the bottom position to start the second period, Weigel remained up one point going into the final period.

McLaughlin could not combat Weigel, who continued to gain riding time throughout the period. As the buzzer sounded, Weigel had over a minute riding time and earned an extra point for the 2-0 decision.

Smith said Weigel has only been wrestling for about a week and a half. Weigel, himself, was happy to be back in his natural habitat.

“It’s always a struggle,” Weigel said. “You have up and downs but it makes you stronger.”

With Rogers and Weigel back on the Cowboys’ roster, Smith will have to make changes to his rosters as Cowboys will soon head to the Big 12 Championship and NCAA tournament.

The Cowboys will travel to next week to face No. 6 Missouri on Feb. 16

“I think from here on (I will) just keep climbing,” Weigel said. “Just to get that first match out of the way, you know, it was fun.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com