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Wrestling mailbag: Cowboy Challenge Tournament

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Oklahoma State Cowboy Wrestling vs Oregon State Beavers, Sunday, January 10, 2021, Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK. Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics

Image Taken at the Oklahoma State Cowboy Wrestling vs Oregon State Beavers, Sunday, January 10, 2021, Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK. Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics

John Smith and Dustin Plott talk to the media.

Welcome to the first O’Colly Cowboy wrestling mailbag of the season. I will likely write another one before the Big 12 Championships and the NCAA Championships. There were a few submitted questions that I will use in the Pre-Big 12 mailbag. Thanks to all who’ve submitted questions.

Is the Cowboy Challenge Tournament a team or individual tournament? What will we see if we show up at 11 a.m? – Malinda Boswell on Twitter @BoswellMalinda

Thanks for the question, Malinda. This is an individual tournament. You will see the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Each weight will have eight wrestlers to a bracket, which means each team can bring two guys at each division. In short, you will see plenty of wrestling this Valentine’s Day.

How do you think OSU vs Missouri plays out? – J-Rod on Twitter @j_rodlee

J-Rod, with Mizzou jumping OSU in the NWCA poll at No. 5 this week, a dual would be incredible.

Unfortunately, the Cowboy Challenge is an individual tournament with eight guys to a bracket. In terms of individual bouts, we will know more when the brackets are released.

Missouri is loaded just like OSU. Nine Tigers are ranked in the top 15 according to this week’s NCAA DI coaches poll contrary to seven Cowboys. It’s hard to predict the tournament results without a guaranteed head-to-head bout. Everyone in this tournament will be challenged (as the name suggests) in this gauntlet. Fans should keep an eye on each participant from the two teams.

Depending on the brackets, No. 3 Brock Mauller of Mizzou vs. No. 4 Boo Lewallen in 149 would be a dream matchup. The pair are undefeated and achieved conference champion All-American status the past two years.

Will it be streamed on ESPN+? – Ben Ramsey on Twitter @BenRamsey80

The finals will be streamed at 4 p.m. but not the quarterfinals and semifinals. The biggest reason is most likely that two mats are used.

Do you think someone other than a starter from this weekend starts against OU or in the Big 12 championships except at 133? – Operational Excellence on Twitter @JeffHill86

Great question, Jeff. This weekend will give coach John Smith a good idea of tournament performance for the Big 12s. Outside of heavyweight, I don’t see any potential changes for Bedlam or Big 12s. After Bedlam, Smith expressed his frustration with Austin Harris’s performance and said, “He’s on thin ice.” Smith also added “I’ll use a true freshman if I have to.”

The most likely replacement would be freshman Konner Doucet, who holds a 4-2 record in extra matches.

Best guesses for 141, 149 and 157 starters next year? – Operational Excellence on Twitter @JeffHill86

Before I explain further, I will say only 157 will likely remain stationary. Wyatt Sheets is only a redshirt junior.

Lewallen will likely move on after this year, which leaves 149 wide-open.

On FloWrestling’s Jan. 19 episode of the “The Bader Show,” Lewallen said, “This season is it for me.”

I expect No. 15 2021 recruit Victor Voinovich to immediately compete for the spot. Keep in mind, assuming the 2021-22 season will revert to a pre-COVID-19 status, Smith will use redshirts, and guys will wrestle plenty. Despite Voinovich’s heralded status, Smith won’t be afraid to redshirt in favor of experience.

Kaden Gfeller will compete for that spot as well after not starting this year.

Gfeller is just two years removed from a conference title and has plenty of wrestling remaining.

The hole at 141 is perhaps the hardest to predict.

You have to think Hone and Brock will pull a Lewallen despite having that extra year.

Smith and recruiting coordinator Tyler Caldwell may pursue an experienced transfer. OSU lacks depth and this weight with two backup redshirt freshmen — Colt Newton and Price Perrier. Calling reinforcements could be the answer.