Cowboys celebrate senior day in final home dual of the season

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Nick Piccininni during the No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. South Dakota State wrestling dual on January 31, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Raised wrestling mats are a symbol of high-profile duals and championship-caliber matches.

Typically, only used for Big 12 and NCAA championship matches, the mat will be raised for Sunday’s Bedlam dual, signifying the high-profile status between the two powerhouse programs.

The nationally televised dual will also be senior day for the Oklahoma State wrestling team’s Nick Piccininni (125), Joe Smith (174) and Andrew Shomers (174).

Piccininni is one of just 44 Cowboy wrestlers to have won more than 100 matches in a career and he will have the opportunity later this season to win his fourth Big 12 championship in as many tries.

Despite winning three conference titles, Piccininni has yet to finish at the top of the podium at the NCAA tournament, but he has been building momentum throughout the season and he said his goal is to finish his career with an NCAA title.

Coach John Smith said he enjoys watching Piccininni wrestle and what he brings to the top of the lineup.  

“He’s always got a nice surprise for you in matches,” Smith said. “He’s really helped us starting off in duals when we start at 125 and he’s really done a nice job of making himself a real threat at the weight class this year.”

Smith’s son, Joe will also be recognized for senior day. Joe Smith has won two Big 12 championships (both at 157) and is a two-time All-American.

Smith grew up in Stillwater and said Bedlam is the best dual to finish his home career with and he doesn’t want to lose it.

“It’s going to be exciting and I’m going to give it my all. It’s my last match so it’s all-or-nothing,” Smith said. “If you lose this one, you lost your last match in Gallagher-Iba so you don’t want to do that.”

Andrew Shomers is the final wrestler being recognized Sunday. He and Piccininni are both from New York and Piccininni said they go way back.

“Even before I even knew I was going to come to Oklahoma State, we were seeing each other at tournaments,” Piccininni said. “So it’s pretty cool to have another guy from New York graduate with me.”

After spending three seasons at Edinboro, Shomers transferred to OSU with teammate Dakota Geer and has been a versatile wrestler for coach Smith.

Smith said Shomers’ versatility has made a huge difference this season with the variety of injuries the Cowboys have had.

This Bedlam dual will be the second meeting of the season between the rival Oklahoma schools, with the Cowboys winning the dual in Norman 23-9.

OSU has dominated the rivalry since 2000, winning every dual since the turn of the century and holds an overall record of 142-27-10 record against OU.

Smith said even though his team will be favored, Bedlam has a tendency to produce wild endings and he hopes the breaks go in Oklahoma State’s favor.

“Anything that happens unexpectedly needs to go our way, that’s how you win Bedlam,” John said. “That’s truly the difference in Bedlam, people get fired up, they come, they’re ready to go and some things happen that you weren’t prepared for. If a lot of them go your way, then good things really happen on the scoreboard.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com