Cowboys use offensive explosion to down Bears

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Andrew Shomers during the No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. Northern Colorado wrestling match on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Earlier in the season, Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith was frustrated with the way his team was wrestling offensively.

Throughout the season, Smith has been critical of his team’s ability to get takedowns early in matches.

However, Smith was happy with the way his team wrestled today against Northern Colorado as the Cowboys tooks care of business, winning 36-3. 

“I thought we did good today,” Smith said, “The more matches that we’re gonna get in, this team has got a chance of getting better.”

The Cowboys scored nine points or more in eight of the ten matches, including three technical falls by Nick Piccininni (125), Travis Wittlake (165) and Dakota Geer (197).  OSU also had two major decisions by Dusty Hone and Andrew Shomers at 141 and 174 pounds respectively. 

It was an impressive showing from the Cowboys, who struggled earlier in the season getting takedowns and looking sluggish in many of the previous performances.

But today, the Cowboys found a way to separate the score from their opponents, particularly on their feet and with back points.

“If you’re superior on your feet, you need to take advantage of that,” Smith said, “We need to score when we can score and today it was definitely in our takedowns.”

No. 3 Boo Lewallen did not wrestle in the Southern Scuffle, but he faced No. 17 Andrew Alirez who finished second in the tournament.

After wrestling to a draw through two periods, Lewallen outscored Alirez 8-1 in the final frame, winning his match, 11-4.

“Even though the score was close, I didn’t feel like it should have been that close,” Lewallen said, “I’m just trying to figure out how to make matches go the way I want them to go.”

After his third-place finish in the Southern Scuffle, Dusty Hone held his place at 141 ahead of Kaden Gfeller, who wasn’t feeling well. 

Hone continued his impressive run of form, defeating Chris Sandoval via major decision with an 8-0 scoreline.

Although Hone won his match handily, coach Smith wants more from the junior. 

“You can win 8-0 like Dusty Hone did and I didn’t like the match,” Smith said, “Kind of a scenario where we’re pushing for more.”

Reece Witcraft followed Piccininni’s tech fall with a hot start of his own, earning four takedowns in the first period against No. 19 Mosha Schwartz.

However, Witcraft struggled after that, allowing Schwartz to find his footing in the match.  Schwartz slowly closed the gap and won the match 12-11 when he took down Witcraft with 10 seconds remaining.

Coach Smith was happy with Witcraft’s offense, but says he needs to work on controlling the match more if he wants to be consistent.

“Four takedowns in the first (period) but you got no riding time,” Smith said, “You’re not gonna steal the match, it doesn’t matter that you’re winning by four.  This kid knows you’re a true freshman… kind of a blown opportunity for him to take out another top 20 opponent.”

Geer also won his match before the seven minutes were up, defeating Seth Bogulski 19-3 in the second period, in another tech fall victory for the Cowboys.

It appeared as if Geer flipped a switch mid-match, when he exploded for 13 points in the second period alone, barely allowing his opponent to stand before he was all over him again.

“It was good to see him work for the takedowns,” Smith said, “I think we saw the difference in the ability to score.”

Coach Smith said he hopes that his team will use this dominating performance as a springboard towards the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments in the coming months.

“I like the fact that when you look at our schedule, you’re looking at what, ten more dual meets?” Smith said, “That’s exciting, that’s what we need right now. We need to weigh-in and wrestle Friday/Saturday or Friday/Sunday (duals) and that’s what we’ve got going forward in the next few weeks.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com