Boo Lewallen walked to the center of the mat and laid his headgear on the blue NCAA logo. His right arm raised to the sky. Tongue hanging out of his mouth.
He’d completed this process hundreds of times, but this was different. Not just because of a buzzer-beating overtime takedown to beat Campbell’s Josh Heil 7-6 to advance to the quarterfinals, but because of his weekend is his last time in a Cowboy singlet.
“It has been a good day,” Lewallen said. “Feeling good and as for the win (against Heil) it’s not the way I wanted to wrestle, but I got the takedown when I needed to. I’ll be better tomorrow.”
After the first two sessions, Daton Fix, Lewallen, and AJ Ferrari advanced to the quarterfinals while Trevor Mastrogiovanni, Wyatt Sheets, Travis Wittlake, Plott, Dakota Geer and Austin Harris are still alive in the consolation bracket. OSU sits fifth in the team standings with 20 points — thirteen and 1/2 points behind the leaders, Iowa.
This is the end of a complicated career. Two-time All-American, three-time Big 12 champion. An NCAA title, however, remains absent. One final chance for Boo Lewallen to be engraved under the 149-pound trophy.
“He always loved wrestling,” said Joe Lewallen, Boo’s grandfather. “He’s obsessed. He was good in other sports, but he was obsessed with wrestling. Boo has always had that love.”
Lewallen’s obsession began as a 4-year-old, 37-pound wrestler in Yukon. When Lewallen laced up his wrestling shoes, crazy things happened. Joe recalled Boo’s youth coach telling him to stop pinning his opponents. Boo could win via fall, but he wasn’t collecting significant mat time.
In middle school, Lewallen would watch John Smith technique videos and take notes in the upstairs of his childhood home.
“Boo is probably one of the most resilient people I’ve been around,” said Smith. “There were so many reasons why he could’ve quit after his shoulder and ankle injuries he’s had.”
Through all those years, Lewallen’s prolific ankle pick has only improved. His 54 takedowns on the season ranks second on the squad. That skill is the namesake of his Twitter handle — IPickAnkles1.
“I’m going to shoot it, it’s my shot,’ Lewallen said. ‘If it doesn’t work, I’ll figure out how to get to the legs somehow.
That obsession drives Lewallen’s strength. In the weight room, he can easily power clean 225-pounds from the floor.
After defeating Heil, Lewallen will wrestle No. 12 seed Max Murin of Iowa.