Big 12

Oklahoma State Wrestling On The Hunt For Upsets Against Iowa

Oklahoma State Wrestling On The Hunt For Upsets Against Iowa

Oklahoma State wrestling is undefeated in duals this season, but coach John Smith said the Cowboys will need some upsets to win against Iowa.

Feb 22, 2024 by Rowdy Baribeau
Oklahoma State Wrestling On The Hunt For Upsets Against Iowa

Oklahoma State will wrestle Iowa on its home mat in Gallagher-Iba Arena for the first time in five years.

And the at-home history favors the Cowboys. The last time Iowa wrestled Oklahoma State in Stillwater, the Pokes capped an undefeated season with a 27-12 win against the Hawkeyes. The #2 Cowboys will need some of that same magic they had in 2019 to defeat the #3 Hawkeyes. On paper, Iowa is favored in six matches. OSU wrestling coach John Smith said there is one key way to beat the Hawkeyes. 

“When you have these dual meets, it does come down to upsets,” Smith said. “You get the upset, you’re gonna win. They’re probably favored over us… We’re gonna need to compete well. Maybe the best team we wrestled, and we’ve wrestled a lot of good ones. We just need to do what we have been doing all year long: Win some matches you’re not supposed to win. There’s no reason we can’t do that.”

The Hawkeyes have had the Cowboys’ number as of late, winning seven of the last nine duals, including the previous three in a rather dominating fashion, with a combined score of 85-22. Yet, the Cowboys are riding strong momentum into the dual and the postseason. 

The Crowd Factor in GIA

Against then-#21 Oklahoma in the Bedlam rivalry in February, more than 9,900 fans filed into the arena for the dual. It was the third-largest crowd in Gallagher-Iba Arena since 2004. If Bedlam drew just short of 10,000, it is a safe bet to say Sunday’s crowd is going to be larger — much larger. 

The stakes are higher for both teams as OSU and Iowa are two strong contenders for an NCAA team trophy. OSU has not won a second-place trophy since 2016 and a first-place title since 2006. 

With the likelihood of a highly competitive dual, there figures to be a great turnout in Stillwater on Sunday. Smith said having a large crowd can have a real effect on a wrestler. 

“It can be devastating to guys,” Smith said. “It can lift you up beyond your abilities to do things. You find strength you didn’t know you had — if they’re yelling for you. If they’re yelling against you, I’ve seen some ugly things.”

Smith Talks Consistency of Freshmen

The Cowboys have one of the top groups of freshmen in the country with four ranked wrestlers, including two inside the top 10. All of them are unfavored in their matches against the Hawkeyes. That is where Smith wants to see some upsets. 

For #8 Troy Spratley at 125 pounds and #9 Tagen Jamison at 141 pounds, it is a great litmus test and a chance to turn some heads before the postseason. But for #21 Jordan Williams at 149 pounds and #24 Brayden Thompson at 174, they will have to brush off some dust and hop back in the saddle for the toughest dual the Cowboys will have all year. 

“I thought last week, Brayden Thompson was a little off,” Smith said. “Was hoping for a little bit more out of him, but they’ve been pretty consistent. Even in some of their losses, they’ve been pretty competitive. From the Las Vegas tournament (Cliff Keen Invitational) to now, the improvement on their feet has been big, getting takedowns has been big. Taking advantage of that three-point takedown, it’s done a lot for us.”