Pictured: Oklahoma State true freshman Carter Young (141) getting his hand raised after winning in his home gym, Gallagher-Iba Arena, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Picture courtesy of Oklahoma State Sports Information.
Sunday’s second round of Bedlam wrestling in Stillwater came down to the last match, as No. 12 Oklahoma State survived an upset against rival No. 24 Oklahoma, 18-16. OSU 141-pound freshman Carter Young earned an 11-3 major decision over Jacob Butler to complete the Cowboys’ comeback after trailing 16-10 with two matches left. Had the Sooners held onto the upset, it would have been their first win against OSU since 2013.
There’s plenty to unpack from a rivalry dual that came down to the final bout, so here are takeaways from Bedlam.
2022 Is Not Cowboy Wrestling
Anyone who pays attention to OSU wrestling, and college wrestling in general, can tell this is not a typical season for John Smith’s dynasty. Lackluster might honestly be the best word to describe what’s happening.
Yes, the Cowboys are limping through right now because of injuries, but we’ll get to that later.
OSU lost two matches it definitely should not have at 125 and 184 pounds. At 184, unranked Keegan Moore upset then-No. 8 Dakota Geer, 9-4. The Cowboys then entered crisis mode after unranked Joey Prata beat then-No. 8 Trevor Mastrogiovanni 4-1 at 125 with two matches left.
That pair of matches mirrored what we saw when the Pokes lost to Northern Iowa and Iowa State in the same weekend, and really the recent part of this season, as the Pokes had lost four of their last five before this past weekend.
OSU was able to scrape together a few bonus points during Bedlam 2.0, points that were nonexistent that weekend vs. Northern Iowa and Iowa State, but it’s still not what we’re used to seeing from wrestlers in those orange singlets.
Kaden Gfeller, Daton Fix, and Carter Young gave their team some bonus points. All three of those are probably OSU’s most consistent wrestlers heading into the postseason (watch for Young at Big 12s).
Even if it’s still not entirely up to the lofty standards Smith has created, I genuinely believe a performance from OSU like this weekend would have meant the Cowboys going 2-0 against UNI and ISU. That can’t be said for Missouri and Iowa, but that would still be only two losses. But even two losses is disappointing in Stillwater, let alone four.
As I was leaving OSU’s dual against Columbia last month, a wrestler I won’t name got in trouble with an assistant coach for interacting with fans. Smith was strict about such behavior, trying to keep COVID out of his wrestling room to prevent having to forfeit any duals. But at this point, Smith should wrap his entire team in bubble wrap and put them in quarantine for the next two weeks until the Big 12 Championships.
I don’t have a definite answer for that unforsaken weekend against the schools from Iowa, but Sunday’s lackluster performance was somewhat out of the Cowboys’ hands. OSU was missing three starters Sunday because of injury.
The most well-known injury is defending 197-pound NCAA champion AJ Ferrari, who will miss the rest of the season after a car wreck last month. Sunday, 157-pounder Wyatt Sheets and 165-pounder Travis Wittlake joined Ferrari on the sideline. OSU lost its matches at all three of those weights.
We already know Ferrari will miss the rest of the season, and have for a while now. That means Gavin Stika will for sure be competing for OSU in Tulsa. He’s 2-5 since taking over at 197.
Smith told media after Bedlam that Sheets should return “soon,” but for Wittlake, “we’ll find out a little bit more in the future.” Hopefully, the future is before March 5.
With no Ferrari and Wittlake, OSU’s chances at continuing its Big 12 dominance in Tulsa become extremely difficult.
The Consistent Carter Young
One thing can be said of freshman Carter Young: you always know what to expect.
The knock on Young’s impressive freshman campaign so far is that he hasn’t won a big match yet this season, as far as ranked matchups. He’s 10-5 with only one loss to a wrestler who hasn’t appeared in TOM’s top 20 this season. However, none of those 10 wins were over top-20 foes.
Young’s biggest win of the season (and his college career, so far) probably came Sunday, considering the situation. Young was the last match of the dual and stepped on the mat with his team down 16-14. He delivered an 11-3 major decision over Jacob Butler, another unranked opponent.
Young is my darkhorse to watch at the Big 12 Championships next weekend. I’m not saying I’d put money on him against ISU’s fifth-ranked Ian Parker in the finals, but I won’t be shocked if Young gets to wrestle on the stage that Sunday night.
A run to the finals will most likely require Young’s first ranked victory, but that has to happen eventually, especially if you’re wrestling for OSU. And the 141-pound bracket will have plenty of opportunities for Young.
Big 12 Picture
Next stop: Tulsa.
Bedlam concluded the regular season for not only OSU and OU, but the entire Big 12. That means the next time these teams will compete will be March 5-6 at the Big 12 Championships.
Although this may be the blurriest picture in a very long time of who will come out on top, the last two months have painted somewhat of a picture before next weekend.
Iowa State is a top-5 team and most likely the best squad in the Big 12 this season, but how this year has gone, that doesn’t make a conference title for the Cyclones a sure thing. Missouri, and even OSU, despite its struggles, still have shots at outperforming ISU. Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, and OU will be on the outside looking in in a three-horse race of their own. OU will most likely finish at the bottom of that trio, but UNI and SDSU will be a tight race.