OSU wrestling: Young wrestlers shine as Cowboys defeat UNC

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Wyatt Sheets during the No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. Northern Colorado wrestling match on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

The No. 11 Oklahoma State wrestling team dominated the University of Northern Colorado on Sunday and several young Cowboys had impressive showings as the Cowboys (5-1, 2-0 Big 12) won 36-3.

Both Wyatt Sheets and Travis Wittlake dominated their matches and created huge gaps in the scores between themselves and their opponents. Sheets ended his match with a score of 17-4 and Wittlake won via technical fall in the first period, 16-1.

Sheets had a strong showing at the Southern Scuffle but struggled to score despite winning the matches. 

“That’s not what we want, we need to score when we can score,” Coach John Smith said. “I think we saw the difference in ability to score [today].”

Wittlake finished in third after the Southern Scuffle but was unhappy with the loss that put him in third place. 

“We saw him in a routine, not pushing himself through tough scenarios,” Smith said. After he lost it seemed like something clicked in.”

Both wrestlers have experience in the OSU program but seem to have turned the corner into understanding the culture of cowboy wrestling, a culture of toughness on and off the mat. Senior Boo Lewallen is no stranger to the toughness that is required to succeed within the program and has been able to share his experiences with his less experienced teammates. 

“I think as a team that’s kinda like Oklahoma State’s motto we want to score points and once we score points keep scoring points not just sit on a lead,” Lewallen said. “You come to Oklahoma State that’s the commitment you want out of yourself.”

Wittlake had one of his most impressive matches to date against UNC’s Macoy Flanagan. He won the match via a technical fall before the end of the first period. The match today was night and day from the matches Wittlake has had earlier on in the season. 

“Beginning of the season…. I was scoring maybe one takedown a match and I was winning matches by one point,” Wittlake said. “A really big emphasis in practice the last couple of weeks has been score points, score points, score points, move your feet, move your hands, get more takedowns. I think today we did a little bit better on that.” 

After starting the season slowly on offense, Smith has consistently pushed for the team to score points, win matches by greater margins and be tough, especially the younger wrestlers. 

“When you see guys gain confidence to separate the score like that it comes from busting their tails and creating that atmosphere in practice every day.” Smith said.