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Oklahoma State remains the favorite as Big 12 pre-seeds announced

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Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 Wrestling Championship at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Sunday, March 10.

The pre-seeds for this weekend’s Big 12 wrestling tournament were announced Wednesday, with Oklahoma State leading the conference with three No. 1 seeds.

OSU has won seven straight Big 12 championships and will look to win a school and conference record eighth straight title.

If the current seeds hold form, the Cowboys will advance nine wrestlers to the NCAA tournament.

Here is the path each Cowboy wrestler will have to take to win their respective weight.

No. 1 Nick Piccininni (125)

Piccininni will be wrestling for his fourth straight Big 12 title at 125.

As it stands, Piccininni has not lost to any other conference wrestler at the weight and will be a heavy favorite.  

He will receive a bye in the opening round as a result of being the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of No. 8 Joey Thomas (WVU) and Jeremy Trinh (Fresno State) in the quarterfinals.

 

No. 6 Reece Witcraft (133)

In probably the most competitive weight in the tournament, Reece Witcraft is ranked sixth and will face Jared Van Vleet (AFA) in the first round.

The Big 12 has been awarded eight automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA tournament at 133 (most in the nation), so Witcraft will likely only need to win one match to secure an automatic berth.

However, he is 6-2 against Big 12 opponents this season and has already upset No. 1 seed Montorie Bridges (WYO), so don’t be surprised if Witcraft makes a push for a conference championship himself.

 

No. 4 Dusty Hone (141)

Hone is the fourth seed at the tournament and seems to be appropriately seeded as he has beaten everyone below him and lost each match to the top three seeds.

He has not faced either potential quarterfinal opponent this season and wouldn’t see a third potential match with No. 1 Dom Demas (OU) until the semifinals.

The Big 12 only has five automatic qualifying spots at 141 so Hone will need to win at least two matches to clinch an NCAA berth.

 

No. 1 Boo Lewallen (149)

Lewallen is not only the favorite at 149, but could be considered one of the favorites to win the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.

He is currently 6-0 this season against conference opponents, but has not faced No. 4 Jarrett Degen this season as Degen has had injury issues.

Lewallen is one of the top national title contenders at this weight and will be looking to win his second conference championship.

 

No. 3 Wyatt Sheets (157)

Last year, the Big 12 only received one auto-bid at 157 and Sheets missed the NCAA tournament finishing fourth.

However, the conference was awarded five slots this year so a semifinal berth should be enough for Sheets to qualify. 

Sheets is 5-2 against conference opponents and has beaten both of his potential quarterfinal foes via bonus point victories.

No. 1 Travis Wittlake (165)

In his first Big 12 championship, Wittlake is seeded first and has not lost to a conference opponent this season.

However, he has yet to face No. 2 Andrew Fogarty (NDSU), who is also undefeated in conference play.

Wittlake will receive a bye in the first round and will move straight to the quarterfinals.

 

No. 5 Joe Smith (174)

Smith is the fifth seed for the tournament and will need to hold his seed in order to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

His only two conference losses have come against the top two seeds and has an outside chance to compete for his third Big 12 title with a couple of upsets.

 

No. 2 Anthony Montalvo (184) 

Montalvo has been strong against conference opponents, posting a 9-1 record with his only loss coming against Taylor Lujan (UNI), who is ranked No. 1 nationally.

After a strong showing in recent weeks, Montalvo is in position to have a nice tournament and could win an individual title if he is able to defeat Lujan in a potential final.

 

No. 5 Dakota Geer (197)

Geer has had a rough couple of weeks, which is why he has dropped to the fifth seed in the conference.

However, with six national slots awarded to the Big 12 at 197, Geer should qualify if he wins two or more matches.

His side of the bracket is difficult, as he has lost to both No. 4 Stephen Buchanan (WYO) and No. 1 Noah Adams (WVU) this season.

 

Austin Harris (HWT)

Harris is the only non-seeded wrestler for the Cowboys, but will only need two wins to qualify for NCAAs as the conference has seven slots available.

The problem for Harris is he has not beaten anyone on his side of the bracket and lost 15-0 to his first-round opponent, No. 5 Brian Andrews (WYO).

Harris will need a few upsets to qualify for the NCAA tournament, but with the right matchup could get a few wins under his belt.

sports.ed@ocolly.com