Cowboys to face OU in Norman for first time since 2016

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Boo Lewallen battles against his opponent during the Oklahoma State vs. Princeton wrestling match, on Dec 6, 2019, at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

For the first time in three years, the Oklahoma State wrestling team will travel to Norman for a dual against Oklahoma.

OSU coach John Smith said he’s excited about returning to two wrestling duals this season with the Sooners.

“It’s nice to get back to wrestling (them) home and away,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to wrestling and I know our guys are looking forward to it.”

Facing an opponent twice in a season is rare in college wrestling, but the Cowboys and Sooners have done it nearly every season for almost as long as the rivalry has been around.

OSU and OU have only wrestled one time in a season twice since 1948, according to Seth Duckworth at Pistols Firing. Those both came in the last two seasons.

“I’m not sure all the reasons why they went to one match (a season), maybe to build up their team a little bit,” Smith said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to host the single match that we had each year here at Oklahoma State.”

Smith said its important youth wrestling in Oklahoma to see the matchup twice, rather than just in Stillwater.

“It’s an important event, it’s a motivator for a lot of people,” Smith said, “My first experience to college wrestling was Bedlam.”

As an Oklahoma kid growing up, Smith was no stranger to Bedlam wrestling.  He said he attended his first match in the third grade and hasn’t missed many Bedlam duals since then.

“We were OU fans, I think I was rooting for OU that day,” Smith said, “Thank goodness my brother changed our mind.”

OSU senior Boo Lewallen echoed the statement from his coach about the importance of Bedlam wrestling in Oklahoma.

“For myself, I’m from Yukon, so it’s probably 30 minutes to Norman from where I’m at,” Lewallen said. “I think for a lot of kids it helps (to have a dual in Norman) because it’s just right there, right in the Oklahoma City metro area.”

Fellow senior Nick Piccininni is the only starter this season who has wrestled against the Sooners in Norman.

“Right away, it was my redshirt freshman year and it was definitely what everyone talked about and what you would expect,” Piccininni said. “It’s great to be a part of that and it’s fun and it’s always high energy.”

After a hot start to his season, Piccininni suffered his first regular-season loss in almost 2 years last Friday against Pat Glory.  He said the loss hasn’t changed him much, only giving more motivation.

“My mindset hasn’t changed,” Piccininni said. “The goal set ahead of me (a national championship) it’s not been changed at all, it’s still there for me.”

While they haven’t wrestled yet this season, coach Smith may have hinted that either Kaden Gfeller or Joe Smith could start this weekend.

“I would kind of wait to see what materializes,” Smith said. “We could see more Oklahoma kids in this particular dual meet.”

In total, there have been 178 wrestling meetings between OSU and OU. The Cowboys holding a 141-27-10 record against the Sooners.

“It’s not a match that’s really going to dictate your season, whether you win or lose,” Smith said. “But it is a match you want to win… it is Bedlam.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com