Coming into Saturday’s dual, the Oklahoma State wrestling team had been building momentum with six consecutive dual wins and a Southern Scuffle title.
That momentum was interrupted Saturday as OSU (7-2, 3-1 Big 12) lost to Northern Iowa (5-3, 4-1) Saturday night, 19-15 ,as the Panthers seemed to have more energy all night and defeated the Cowboys for the first time this millennium.
Here are my takeaways from tonight’s dual:
Cowboys may not be the favorite to win the Big 12 this year
In its quest for a record eighth-straight Big 12 championship, Oklahoma State could be in for a fight come March.
Before their loss to the Panthers, the Cowboys were projected to finish second in the conference behind Iowa State.
However, Northern Iowa appears to have entered the race and could spoil OSU’s bid for conference supremacy.
The Cowboys will need better performances from Anthony Montalvo (184), Reece Witcraft (133) and Wyatt Sheets (157) if they want to continue their dominance of the Big 12.
Boo Lewallen will probably be the new No. 1 at 149 next week
On Friday night, Pat Lugo of Iowa was defeated by Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. The loss by Lugo (who was No. 1 at the time) left Lewallen as the only undefeated wrestler at 149 pounds.
If Lewallen is able to defeat either Jarrett Degen or Ryan Leisure of Iowa State on Sunday, he would likely ascend to the top spot in next week’s rankings.
With wins against four ranked wrestlers, Lewallen has not only returned from his shoulder injury, but looks better than he ever had before.
Throughout the season, Lewallen has said he is feeling more and more confident after every match and he is certainly backing that up. Seven of his 12 wins have come with bonus points and he appears to be picking up steam as the season rolls on.
Dakota Geer bounces back in a big way
No. 9 Dakota Geer defeated Noah Glaser via Tech fall, 19-4, in just the second period.
In a dual where Oklahoma State struggled to create offense, Geer was all over his opponent, seemingly scoring takedowns at will and controlling the match from start to finish.
Coming into the season, he was projected to start at 184. However, with the emergence of Montalvo and Geer’s previous experience at 197, he was bumped up a weight class to make room.
The former Edinboro transfer seems to be adjusting to the weight change just in time for the Big 12 tournament and could be a valuable point scorer for the Cowboys in a tight title race in the conference.
Inconsistent performances continue to haunt Cowboys
Besides Nick Piccininni (125), Lewallen (149) and Travis Wittlake (165), the Cowboys have struggled to find a consistent groove offensively, especially on the road.
When they are wrestling at their best, the Cowboys look like one of the best teams in the country. For example, they beat a top-10 Pitt squad 30-10 just last week.
However, in their losses (and even some of their wins), the Cowboys struggle to score at the rate that they need in order to contend for a trophy at the NCAA championships.
Getting a healthy Joe Smith in the lineup will help, but Oklahoma State must find a way to score on a more consistent basis if they want to avoid more losses this season.