Writhing in pain and the crowd suddenly silenced, his heroic return became an unthinkable nightmare.
In the final period of what was Boo Lewallen’s return to the mat from a two month injury, one takedown changed everything.
Lewallen, a redshirt junior on the Oklahoma State wrestling team, was taken down onto the shoulder that had already caused him to miss all but one match prior to his return this season.
Although it is another blow to a team that has struggled with injuries all season, OSU coach John Smith said he knows he has a team built to withstand this.
“We’ve gone the whole season without (Lewallen),” Smith said. “It doesn’t set us back other than we lost a great kid, but he does a lot for us and in the future he will do a lot more for us. Boo will bounce back for us.”
Prior to Lewallen’s injury, freshman Kaden Gfeller was No. 2 OSU’s starter at 149 and was 21-2 with his two losses coming against the No. 2 and No. 3 wrestlers.
When asked about whether Gfeller would assume the spot for the rest of the season, Smith was not ready to call anything and suggested that Gfeller might even move down to his preferred weight of 141.
“I don’t know,” Smith said. “We’re gonna wait and see. We’re going to look at 141 as a weight class that we’d like to see our best wrestler at between the two weights.”
Whichever wrestler Smith rolls with at 149 will not have an easy weekend with Northern Iowa's No. 10 Max Thomsen and Lehigh's Cortlandt Schuyler coming to Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Lineup changes coming
Along with Lewallen, OSU (10-0) has other former All-Americans on the injury list. Seniors Chandler Rogers (165) and Preston Weigel (197) have missed a combined 14 dual matches for the Cowboys this season, which has caused significant shifting at OSU’s upper weights.
As of now, Dakota Geer has moved from 184 to 197 to cover the loss of Weigel, which has caused Jacobe Smith (184) to move up a weight and Joe Smith to wrestle at 174. In place of Chandler Rogers, Andrew Shomers has moved up to 165 from his usual 157.
The changes have caused a majority of the Cowboys' lineup to adjust on the fly to new weights, and with the NCAA’s descent plan, John Smith said he will have to decide what his postseason lineup will look within the next two weeks.
“There’s still some question marks,” Smith said. “We’ve still got some guys wrestling up. (Preston) Weigel and Chandler Rogers are the two we’re waiting on to see what plays out. Both have an opportunity to come back, and both will have a spot when they come back.”
Smith’s big weekend
Joe Smith made his first appearance in Gallagher-Iba in nearly two years against Iowa State on Sunday and came away with his team’s lone fall of the match.
Smith is 4-1-1 against top-20 wrestlers this season with his only loss coming to Penn State's Mark Hall, who is the No. 1 wrestler at 174 and top-five in the pound-for-pound rankings.
This weekend Smith will host No. 6 and No. 8, respectively at 174 against Northern Iowa and Lehigh. This will be Smith’s toughest test since facing Hall and No. 7 David McFadden at the Southern Scuffle.
John Smith, Joe's father, said he is excited for his son to show what he can do this weekend.
“These are the matches you get excited about,” John Smith said. “It will give him a chance to get an idea of where he’s at, and more importantly he should be really excited to see what he’s capable of doing. I think he’s going to have a big weekend.”