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Gregory’s Takeaways From OSU’s Difficult Weekend and its Impact on the Big 12

Pictured: Oklahoma State head coach  John Smith (back) and two-time NCAA Finalist Daton Fix (front).  Image courtesy of Oklahoma State Sports Information. 

It was still somewhat of a historical weekend at Gallagher-Iba Arena, but not the type of history Oklahoma State had planned.

One win away from their 500th dual win in their historic venue, the No. 3 Cowboys had unranked Northern Iowa and seventh-ranked Iowa State scheduled in Stillwater. After entering the weekend with a 10-0 season record and an all-time 91% winning percentage in GIA, OSU lost both duals.

Saturday brought the weekend’s biggest upset, as UNI upended OSU 19-15 in a dual that came down to the last match to seal the deal for the Schwab Mob.

Sunday featured a top-10 dual, but still a matchup the Cowboys were expected to win. ISU rattled off three straight wins to finish the dual, though, handing OSU back-to-back losses for the first time since the 2013-14 season, according to Pistol Firing Blog’s Marshall Scott. It was the first time since 1992-93 that two straight losses were suffered at home.

Here’s how OSU’s disappointing weekend impacts not just the Cowboys going forward but the rest of the Big 12 with just over a month left until the Big 12 Championships.

What does OSU need going forward?

John Smith’s teams have a knack for peaking at just the right time, but if this weekend’s performances carry over, this 2021-22 squad could do just the opposite with the postseason approaching and a date with No. 2 Iowa looming. So what does this team seem to be missing to make a late-season ascension possible after a disappointing weekend?

Smith is like a parent teaching their baby a new word when it comes to repeating the importance of bonus points. But in two duals over the weekend, the Cowboys didn’t score a single bonus point. Yes, UNI notched two huge upsets at 157 and 165 on Saturday, but bonus points somewhere, say 133 and 197, would have been enough to overcome those hiccups and fend off the upset.

OSU has two of the best wrestlers in the country at 133 and 197.

We don’t know yet how long defending national champion AJ Ferrari will be out at 197 after a car accident last week. Gavin Stika replaced Ferrari over the weekend, winning Saturday and losing to a ranked opponent Sunday. Stika’s win Saturday kept OSU’s chance at a comeback alive, but that was a spot Ferrari probably would have gotten an extra point, or three toward the team score.

Daton Fix is ranked second at 133 as a two-time NCAA finalist, but he had a pair of decisions against two lackluster opponents over the weekend. That’s not normal for Fix, though. He has added bonus points in eight of his 12 matches this season, with half of his decisions coming this past weekend.

With Ferrari in the lineup and a typical weekend from Fix, OSU is at least 1-1 this weekend and celebrating its 500th win in GIA. Still, the Cowboys must also find consistent bonus points elsewhere to ensure a victory over ISU and compete with Iowa in a few weeks.

OSU will have to solve this problem on the fly, though, with its toughest stretch of the season ahead. The Cowboys will stay in Stillwater on Friday to host No. 23 South Dakota State, which beat UNI 27-13 on Jan. 9. OSU will then travel to No. 13 Missouri on Sunday.

After a pair of Big 12 challenges this weekend, the Cowboys will have their most giant dual of the season against No. 2 Iowa for the Bout at the Ballpark in Globe Life Field at Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 12.

Who’s now the team to beat in the Big 12?

While the weekend couldn’t have gone any worse for OSU, ISU’s weekend trip to the state of Oklahoma couldn’t have gone any better.

After this weekend’s results, the No. 7 Cyclones are currently the best wrestling team in the Big 12, and that statement can’t be argued until the Big 12 Championships on March 5-6 in Tulsa.

ISU started its weekend with a 22-9 win against No. 21 Oklahoma in Norman. The weekend concluded with a 20-12 upset over No. 3 OSU 20-12 in Stillwater.

After knocking out OSU, the Cyclones should head to Tulsa as a top-5 team with an undefeated Big 12 record, barring an upset with the likes of UNI and Mizzou still left on the schedule. ISU’s only loss this season was to No. 2 Iowa, 22-11, on Dec. 5.

Comparing apples to oranges, or Cyclones to Cowboys, both teams have a returning national champion. However, OSU’s could still miss the rest of the season. Even without Ferrari, Fix is still a viable national contender for OSU.

As far as conference competition, OSU (with Ferrari) has eight guys who expect to make a run to the Big 12 finals. With Ferrari sidelined, ISU wrestlers beat three of those seven—two of which were considered upsets.

Considering last weekend’s results, the Cyclones have five realistic Big 12 finalists. With this in mind, the Cowboys not winning the Big 12 title (again) would still be a major shock. But, if what was on paper mattered more than what happened on the mat, OSU would still be undefeated.

What about UNI and the rest of the Big 12?

Northern Iowa saw South Dakota’s program win last week, and said, “Hold my headgear.”

Last week, SDSU upset then-No. 9 Missouri for its first win over a top-10 Division-I opponent in program history. A week later, on Saturday, UNI went into GIA and upset OSU, where the Cowboys have won over 90% of their duals and were seeking win No. 500.

After Sunday, the Big 12 is starting to take shape. It’s safe to say ISU is at the top of the Big 12, and OSU is second (for now). Below that, we could probably go SDSU next, considering the Jackrabbits have beaten Mizzou and UNI so far. Then Mizzou at No. 4 and UNI next to round out the top 5. 

In any case, the Big 12 is certainly showing its wrestling toughness down the stretch. 

OSU Bout-by-Bout Results 

Northern Iowa 19, No. 3 Oklahoma State 15 – Recap 
Jan. 29, 2022  |  Gallagher-Iba Arena  |  Stillwater, Okla. 
Attendance: 4,304
125: No. 6 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (OSU) dec. No. 13 Brody Teske (UNI), SV-1 7-5
133: No. 2 Daton Fix (OSU) dec. No. 24 Kyle Biscoglia (UNI), 5-1
141: No. 21 Carter Young (OSU) dec. No. 23 Cael Happel (UNI), 10-6
149: No. 14 Kaden Gfeller (OSU) dec. No. 33 Colin Realbuto (UNI), 3-2
157: Derek Holschlag (UNI) dec. No. 13 Wyatt Sheets (OSU), 3-2
165: No. 18 Austin Yant (UNI) dec. No. 6 Travis Wittlake (OSU), 2-0
174: No. 21 Lance Runyon (UNI) fall No. 8 Dustin Plott (OSU), 4:59
184: No. 4 Parker Keckeisen (UNI) MD No. 9 Dakota Geer (OSU), 12-3
197: Gavin Stika (OSU) dec. John Gunderson (UNI), 4-1
HWT: Tyrell Gordon (UNI) dec. No. 29 Luke Surber (OSU), 2-0

No. 7 Iowa State 20, No. 3 Oklahoma State 12 – Recap
Jan. 30, 2022  |  Gallagher-Iba Arena  |  Stillwater, Okla. 
Attendance: 4,822
125: No. 19 Kysen Terukina (ISU) dec. No. 6 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (OSU), 2-1
133: No. 2 Daton Fix (OSU) dec. No. 33 Ramazan Attasauov (ISU), 5-1
141: No. 11 Ian Parker (ISU) dec. No. 21 Carter Young (OSU), 4-0
149: No. 14 Kaden Gfeller (OSU) dec. No. 21 Jarrett Degen (ISU), SV-1 6-4
157: No. 1 David Carr (ISU) MD No. 13 Wyatt Sheets (OSU), 12-3
165: No. 6 Travis Wittlake (OSU) dec. Isaac Judge (ISU), 5-1
174: No. 8 Dustin Plott (OSU) dec. No. 18 Joel Devine (ISU), 6-1
184: No. 8 Marcus Coleman (ISU) dec. No. 9 Dakota Geer (OSU), 8-3
197: No. 16 Yonger Bastida (ISU) MD Gavin Stika (OSU), 18-6
HWT: No. 21 Sam Schuyler (ISU) dec. No. 29 Luke Surber (OSU), 4-2

Dekota Gregory (@dekotagregory) with be assisting  The Open Mat as our Big 12 / Oklahoma State correspondent. 

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