Big 12

No Looking Down The Road For Oklahoma State Wrestling

No Looking Down The Road For Oklahoma State Wrestling

Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith doesn't want to hear any talk about rivalry duals on the horizon with a strong South Dakota State team up next.

Feb 9, 2024 by Rowdy Baribeau
No Looking Down The Road For Oklahoma State Wrestling

Oklahoma State coach John Smith has never been a fan of looking ahead, which is something many are doing with the Cowboys. 

Second-ranked Oklahoma State wrestles #21 Oklahoma on Feb. 18 and #3 Iowa the following weekend. But the Cowboys take on South Dakota State this Saturday and the Jackrabbits are having their best year yet under head coach Damion Hahn. 

While Iowa and Oklahoma State is looking more and more like another classic, and Oklahoma carries the Bedlam factor, Smith couldn’t be more focused on beating the Jackrabbits. 

“I don’t give a damn about Iowa and Oklahoma,” Smith said. “I can’t get ahead of myself. It’s a big mistake when we start looking ahead. It’s OK for the fans to do it. I’ve read a lot about it and seen a lot written about it and it’s just like, ‘Hey, this is a pretty good team coming in here, they’re pretty balanced.’ 

“We’ve had matches with some teams ranked 22 and 23 and we had a lot of one-point victories. We need to stay focused on what's at hand, and that’s our training and South Dakota State.”

The Jackrabbits feature eight ranked wrestlers and enter Saturday’s dual boasting the highest ranking under Hahn at #13. South Dakota State is 11-2 this year and has entered the conversation as one of the Big 12’s best teams this season. 

Spratley Staying Level-Headed During Crazy Year At 125

Troy Spratley cracked the top 10 in the 125-pound rankings for the first time in his career at #7 following an electrifying win in sudden victory against Missouri’s then-#3 Noah Surtin. The Oklahoma State freshman has victories against notable names this year, but he also has four tough losses. 

Spratley has seen the upheaval in the 125-pound weight class this year. Since October, six 125-pounders have been ranked #1. 

At 125, it’s anyone’s year and Spratley is not excluded. However, he isn’t looking ahead to what could be. Instead, he’s taking after his coach. 

“I talked with coach about this and he said, ‘You gotta live in the moment,’” Spratley said. “You can’t look in the past and what happened, and you can’t look in the future. It builds up a lot of anxiety and stuff like that. It is an open weight class and I believe I will be the guy at the end of the year.”

As the season’s progressed, Spratley’s confidence has grown as well. Spratley said he went from knowing he could compete with the top guys to beating the top guys, and he’s done it more than once this season. Spratley will have a grudge match Saturday against #13 Tanner Jordan, who defeated Spratley 9-8 in the Cliff Keen Invitational. 

Smith said he wants Spratley to let it fly during his matches. 

“I think he’s kinda wrestling right now, thinking of the outcome of matches rather than just wrestling matches,” Smith said. “He’s had a lot of success in some of these matches. He’s had to come back and prove himself and he struggled a couple times trying to prove to himself that he was one of these guys. Just take it for what it is and keep in the fight, that’s what he needs to do right now.”

Smith Seeing Growth In Williams Off The Mat

The Cowboys have been waiting for someone to take hold of the 149-pound spot. Jordan Williams and Sammy Alvarez have split time there in the Oklahoma State lineup, and there were moments when it seemed as if Alvarez, a Rutgers transfer, might have the upper hand.  

Smith said he’s seen a different approach from Williams in practice and from a discipline standpoint. 

“He, personally, is growing, and that’s what has to happen first,” Smith said. “He seems to understand what’s at stake. There’s been times in the season where I wanted to step back and just give the weight class to Sammy [Alvarez]. I think for Jordan, recognizing, ‘Hey, I lost my spot…’ I think it‘s helped him grow up more than helped him get his head on and become a better wrestler. I think he sees what the world can do to you if you’re not careful. I’m sure glad to see him grow up and take responsibility.”