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Cowboys firing on all cylinders, topple Mountaineers

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Anthony Montalvo during the No. 9 Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia wrestling match on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Last week, John Smith praised his team’s ability to get takedowns and work their feet.

On Friday night, it was their versatility that got the job done as the Oklahoma State wrestling team defeated West Virginia 37-9 in a dual where the Cowboys dominated the riding time in almost every match.

Nick Piccininni (125) set the tone for the entire dual, earning his fifth tech fall this season 20-0, this one in just under three minutes of action.

That pace would continue for much of the dual, with OSU (6-1 overall, 3-0 Big 12) earning bonus points in seven of its eight victories on the night.

Smith said he was happy with the way his team wrestled on the mat, where they have struggled at times this season.

“We did a good job of holding them down, breaking them down,” Smith said, “We maybe went a little too long on some of them, but overall a pretty good effort.”

In his last match, Reece Witcraft (133) led almost the entire way before losing right at the buzzer.  John Smith later said that he wanted to see Witcraft ride his opponents more and focus on controlling the match.

Witcraft responded against WVU (3-7, 0-2), not allowing a single takedown and also won via TF 17-1, the first one he’s had in his short time in a cowboy singlet.

John Smith said he thinks Witcraft did a good job of staying aggressive throughout.

“I thought he did a good job of maintaining a pretty good level of wrestling,” Smith said, “It was a good bounce back from that ugly loss last week.”

After a quick pin by Boo Lewallen, the Cowboys rattled off three straight major decisions from Wyatt Sheets (157), Travis Wittlake (165) and Andrew Shomers (174).

Even though he’s a redshirt freshman, Wittlake (17-1) is demonstrating that he might be in contention for an All-American spot come March.

Currently ranked No. 9 according to FloWrestling, he has seemingly flipped a switch following his loss in the Southern Scuffle. With a tech fall in his last match and a 12-3 major decision against WVU, Wittlake has drawn praise from Smith.

“With him, you want to see a freshman learning to break people down, learning to hold them down,” Smith said, “We chose to try to pick up takedowns in the third and we did a good job of that to separate the score and pick up a major decision.”

In perhaps the most impressive performance of the night, Anthony Montalvo (184) turned his opponent several times and was able to grab Oklahoma State’s second fall of the night in the first period.

“I’ve always considered myself a pinner, I like getting people on their back and finishing the match,” Montalvo said, “It felt good to do it in Gallagher just because my first outings weren’t the best.”

The final result wasn’t always certain however, as Montalvo turned his opponent Jackson Moomau twice before he was finally able to pin him.

After nearly pinning Moomau the first time, Montalvo used the same move once again, this time with a slight variation.

“Just a small adjustment of getting my elbow in,” Montalvo said, “Usually, when my elbow goes out whenever I’m running that they can roll through and I think it took a little out of him to go right back to it again.”

This adjustment mid-match is exactly what Smith said wanted to see out of Montalvo moving forward.

Smith said this week that Montalvo needed to work on his technique and making adjustments if he wanted to get better and it seems the freshman is taking the lesson to heart.

In their last two duals, Oklahoma State has outscored its opponents by a combined 73-12.  If the Cowboys can keep wrestling the way they have recently, they have a serious chance of pushing for a top-4 trophy at the NCAA championship.

Smith said he hopes they can carry their momentum into Tomorrow’s dual against Pittsburgh.

“We did a good job with our takedowns, we did a good job of riding,” Smith said, “Tomorrow, we’re going to need all of that plus some.”