Graphic courtesy of Joey Cruz’s Instagram (joey.cruzz).
There has been a lot of speculation about the future of the Big 12 Conference after football powers Oklahoma and Texas left for the Southeastern Conference, primarily for reasons related to for football. The conference shifting has also led to questions about what wrestling will look like in the Big 12 in the years to come.
Well, uncertainty and speculation regarding Sooner wrestling and Big 12 wrestling aside, Joey Cruz, TOM’s top 120-pounder, took to Instagram late Tuesday night, August 24, to pledge to Lou Rosselli’s Oklahoma Sooners. The new was first reported by Seth Duckworth at OWrestle.
“This is a day that me and my dad worked for our entire life. His dream was for me to always make it to a school that will help me win a NCAA title. I would like to announce that I will be continue my academic and athletic career at OU!! I felt a strong connection with Coach Roselli and I feel that he can take me to the next level.
A lot of people have helped me get this far in my career. I want to say thank you to my family for always being my support system. I would like to thank Harold Zinkin and the Zinkin family for always helping me and guiding me. Thank you to Izzy Silva for helping me reach new levels. As well as all the coaches i’ve had. So many people to thank, just know I will not let this opportunity slip and I will work hard to make the Central Valley Proud!!”
With one season remaining at Bullard High School in Fresno, Cruz has already amassed quite the impressive prep career, including two Top-3 finishes at the California state meet (third as a freshman in 2019, second as a sophomore). California did not host a state tournament in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other noteworthy finishes include a 2020 Grappler Fall Classic crown, a finals appearance at the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals, and a third-place showing at the 2019 Cadet World Team Trials, to name a few.
Cruz has a signature win over highly-thoughted 2021 Junior World team member and future ASU Sun Devil on his resume as well.
Things are certainly trending upward for Oklahoma as of late. In 2021, Oklahoma and coach Rosselli’s Sooners finished just 5-5 overall. Still, they were the talk of Big 12s, earning a share of the 2021 Big 12 Championships title alongside bitter rival Oklahoma State, which won its ninth consecutive conference crown this year under the legendary John Smith.
Not to mention, from the Class of 2021, top-rated recruits Alejandro Herrera Rondon (152) and Tate Picklo (195) are heading to Norman this fall.
Looking ahead, Cruz can be an instant-impact starter for the Sooners in 2022. Still, the Californian will have some big shoes to fill as he will be replacing a veteran scrapper, NCAA qualifier, and Virginia Tech transfer Joey Prata.