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'It doesn't get old': Cowboys crown three, win 8th straight Big 12 title

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Nick Piccininni (left) and Boo Lewallen lift up the Big 12 Wrestling Trophy after the Big 12 Wreslting Tournament on March 8 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Ok.

Tulsa — It’s hard to make history at Oklahoma State anymore.

OSU wrestling is the most storied program in collegiate athletics with 34 national titles. But at the Big 12 wrestling championships Sunday at the BOK Center, the Cowboys did something that hadn’t been done in 92 years.

The Cowboys secured their eighth straight Big 12 title—and 53rd conference title overall—with 147.5 team points before a championship match had started.

In the third session, OSU went 9-for-9, coming away with four third-place finishers and a seventh-place finisher.

“I just like what we did in the consolations,” OSU coach John Smith said. “(We) recognized that the title was still on the line, and we separated it before the finals. That was real satisfying."

The three individual titles were the culmination of three unique stories.

Nick Piccininni (125) started the round with a win versus Iowa State’s Alex Mackall. With the win, Piccininni became OSU’s ninth ever four-time Big 12 champion.

Piccininni won his match 3-1. And while it wasn’t pretty he said he knows that there is only one thing that truly matters in a match.

“The ultimate goal is to get your hand raised in the end,” Piccininni said. “As long as I keep on winning and moving along in the bracket that’s it.”

OSU’s streak of titles ties the record set by Ed Gallagher’s team from 1921-28. At a program like OSU’s, these kinds of achievements are hard to come by.

“It’s hard to set records at Oklahoma State with the tradition that we have, and the program that we’ve had forever,” freshman Travis Wittlake said.

Boo Lewallen (149) was the next Cowboy to claim a title. He secured his second Big 12 title after defeating North Dakota State’s Henry Pohlmeyer.

The first time the two faced off in their careers, Lewallen injured his shoulder. It turned out to be an injury he would never fully recover from that season, and this time in 2019 he was watching the Big 12 tournament from his hospital bed.

OSU’s third individual champion was Wittlake who defeated North Dakota State’s Andrew Fogarty 8-4.

In a year that started with OSU’s best wrestler, Daton Fix, redshirting, Kaid Brock tearing his ACL and having six new starters, OSU managed to pull it together.

While it might not have been the prettiest or most dominant tournament, this will go down as one of Smith’s biggest accomplishments—taking a group many doubted and turning them into Big 12 champions.

“Anytime you tie or break a record at Oklahoma State in wrestling, you’re doing something,” Smith said. “I’m glad this team got to feel a little of that this year. It’s been a little bit of a struggle for us, but we did wrestle our best that we've wrestled all season.”

Sports.ed@ocolly.com