Tulsa — Arms crossed and a smile on his face, the celebration said it all.
As Oklahoma State wrestler Boo Lewallen looked into the stands he reflected on where he was this time 12 months ago — a hospital bed.
As he wrapped up his first day of the Big 12 wrestling tournament pinning Iowa State's Jarrett Degen, he had put himself in position to do what he set out to.
Win a second Big 12 title.
This was the fourth time Lewallen and Degen had faced off, and if the three matches prior were any indication — there would be fireworks.
It was a back-and-forth match with both guys taking their turns on top — but it was a ten second stretch in the third period that turned the tide of the match — and maybe even the team race.
With 54 seconds left in the match Lewallen was on his back, and looked like his dream could be over, and as he laid there there was only one thought going through his mind.
“Keep Wrestling,” Lewallen said.
Within two seconds he had pulled off a reversal, and now the count started. One, two, three, four, the near fall was complete, but the match wasn’t.
With 44 seconds left the whistle blew — it was over — Lewallen got Degen into a cradle and pinned his way to a Big 12 title match on Sunday.
That’s when he pulled off a celebration that, for him, is a rarity.
“I usually don't really celebrate too much, but it felt right,” Lewallen said. “Just to stand there and then kind of just took it all in. This time last year I was in a hospital bed watching guys wrestle, so it means a lot.”
Lewallen said he knew how to wrestle Degen and that it came in handy when it came time to step on the mat.
“I knew (Degan) was a tough opponent, we’ve wrestled quite a bit,,” Lewallen said. “He’s just the type of guy that I’m not gonna be able to ride so I’m gonna have to be willing to get however many takedowns I need.”
Lewallen rolled through his first opponent of the day, Utah Valley’s Cameron Hunsaker, and when faced with adversity OSU coach John Smith was pleased with how he reacted.
“(Lewallen) did a nice job recovering,” Smith said. “Sometimes that can take a lot out of you emotionally. I was pleased to see him immediately go back down, and get the reversal to the back. You look like you’re winning pretty comfortably, and (then) all of a sudden it’s a tied score. What’re you gonna do?”
While Lewallen will attempt to win his second Big 12 title on Sunday, OSU is trying to complete the longest streak of team tournament titles since the 1920’s. He said he has his own place in trying to accomplish that.
“We got something that’s never been done (winning eight consecutive Big 12 titles) we can make history,” Lewallen said. “I’ve never been a part of (an OSU team) making history, so I take it really personal. I try to do my part.”