original photo courtesy of Ian Maule; TulsaWorld.com
This week’s college wrestler of the week, Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State, earns the honors after pinning defending national champion Spencer Lee of Iowa, during the Cowboys 27-12 rout of the Hawkeyes on Sunday afternoon. In the first period the two exchanges leg attacks, but neither was able to capitalize and secure a takedown. For most of the second period, Piccininni was ridden by Lee; however, Nick was able to avoid getting turned in any of Lee’s signature tilts. Late in the period, the Cowboy 125 lber, opening the scoring by getting an escape and then quickly took a shot of his own. While trying to finish the takedown, Nick locked up a cradle on the edge of the mat and rolled Lee to his back, where he got the fall at 4:55. A raucous crowd of over 13,000 fans exploded as the home team was staked to an improbable 6-0 against their bitter rivals. Though the dual meet would ultimately be tied after six bouts, OSU took the final four matches to distance themselves from Iowa 27-12.
This is the first win for Piccininni over Lee, an opponent that had previously defeated him twice last year. During the 2017-18 season when these schools met in dual meet action, it was Spencer who got the victory 10-5. They would meet later in the quarterfinals at the 2018 NCAA Championships and, again it was Lee who came out on top, this time with a pin when he appeared en route towards a tech fall. Sunday’s win now brings Nick’s 2018-19 record to a perfect 28-0 heading into the Big 12 Championships, where he will undoubtedly earn the top seed. Defeating Lee now give Piccininni four wins in the 2018-19 season over wrestlers currently ranked in the top ten (Sean Russell – Minnesota, Rayvon Foley – Michigan State, Patrick Glory – Princeton), and he has an argument for the top seed at the NCAA Championships, provided he makes it through the Big 12 Championships unscathed.
Nick is attempting to earn All-American honors for the second time in his career this March in Pittsburgh. As a freshman, in 2016-17, Piccininni was fourth in the nation after winning his first Big 12 Crown. Last year the Cowboy was eliminated in the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships by the defending NCAA runner-up Ethan Lizak (Minnesota).