Tulsa — After Day 1 of the Big 12 wrestling tournament, the Oklahoma State wrestling team leads the team score with 111.5 points with Iowa State and Northern Iowa closely behind, sitting at 92 and 90.5 points respectively.
Here’s a look at an action-packed opening day to the Big 12 tournament.
Reece’s wild ride
Throughout the season, Reece Witcraft (133) has had a roller coaster of results.
He has defeated top-ranked wrestlers but also loses some questionable ones.
Saturday’s results for Witcraft seemed to match up perfectly with how the rest of his season has gone. He went 1-2, defeating the No. 1 seed in the conference as well as two losses to unranked foes.
Despite the losing record in the tournament, Witcraft has earned an automatic qualifier bid to the NCAA wrestling championships due to the NCAA allocating eight spots to the Big 12 at 133.
Coach John Smith said Witcraft, who wrestles for seventh place Sunday, looked like the true freshman he is.
“When you think like a true freshman, you’re going to wrestle like one,” Smith said, “You’re going to have some good and some bad, hopefully he’s got one more match, hopefully he can win it.”
According to NCAA tournament scoring, each team is awarded an extra two points for a fall, 1.5 for a tech fall and one for a major decision.
Right now, bonus points are the difference at the top as both OSU and Iowa State each have four wrestlers in the finals, but OSU leads by 19.5 points after two sessions in large part due to the difference in bonus-point victories.
The Cowboys have racked up ten bonus point wins through two sessions and Smith said bonus points are always big in tournaments and that it’s the key to putting yourself over the top.
“When everybody’s equal … I think Iowa State has four (finalists) and we have four and we’re winning by several points,” Smith said, “It goes back to bonus points as the difference in the tournament right now.”
While it is important to advance as many wrestlers as possible in the championship bracket, bouncing back in the consolations can be just as important in deciding a team championship.
Witcraft, Anthony Montalvo (184) and Dakota Geer (197) all dropped matches in the first session in the championship bracket but rebounded to win their opening consolation bouts.
Even though Witcraft failed to advance any farther, Montalvo and Geer each won close battles in their second consolation matches and advanced to the consolation semifinals.
By winning those last two matches, Geer and Montalvo added 7.5 more points to the team score and have an opportunity to place as high as third Sunday.
Smith said it doesn’t matter what happened in the regular season, consolation matches are always a dogfight.
“People are fighting for their lives and they’re going to give a little bit more of an effort,” Smith said, “You’ve got to be ready to punch and punch and punch. You can’t worry about what the score was with the guy last time, there’s always a chance to win big matches in consolations and those were two tough ones to win.”