Wyatt Sheets walked off the mat and into the arms of his coach— John Smith.
Wrestler and coach shared a joyous moment. Smith hugged him tight to his chest for several seconds. The Oklahoma State 157-pounder just defeated Central Michigan’s Johnny Lovett 6-4. Now, he is one win away from All-American status.
More than a week ago, Sheets wasn’t thinking about this weekend.
He recorded an 1-2 record at the Big 12 Tournament in what Smith called “a poor effort.” His season was done, and he was preparing for a potential left knee surgery — an injury that kept him off the mat for half of the season.
But a lot can happen in a week.
Sheets, the son of two-time NCAA champion Mike Sheets, was added to the 157-pound bracket after a wrestler dropped out. A win in his first match would set up a bout against the No. 1 seed, Ryan Deakin of Northwestern.
That is precisely what happened.
Deakin, now a semifinalist, proved his supremacy with a 10-3 decision and the Cowboy was sent to the consolation bracket. But Sheets wasn’t finished. He kept winning and winning. A 6-2 decision over Virginia’s Justin McCoy Thursday night, a 6-2 win over South Dakota State’s Cade DeVos just 30 minutes before his win over Lovett.
Despite the bulky black left knee brace, Sheets moved quickly. He dodged shots from Lovett— a speedy freshman.
Determination and perseverance can be powerful weapons. For Sheets, a win over Penn State’s Brady Berge on Friday night would earn him All-American status.
After the Friday morning session, OSU is tied for third in the team standings with 37.5 points. Daton Fix and Boo Lewallen will wrestle in Friday night’s semifinals.