STILLWATER – The expected starters and highly-touted freshman class for this season’s Cowboy wrestling team looked the part on Sunday, as Oklahoma State hosted its Orange and Black Ranking Matches at Gallagher-Iba Arena in preparation for next week’s season-opening duals.
“When you get into these ranking matches, you know your opponent so well that sometimes it is slow and dragging and you don’t get the action you want to see from your team,” head coach John Smith said. “I was glad to see some of these young guys like Dustin Plott, AJ Ferrari and Luke Surber stepping out and being excited about performing. Overall, it was a good effort and we will move along with the top-20 guys as we go into next week.”
The Cowboys wrestled 14 bouts in a dual-style format that pitted the Orange Team against the Black Team, with the Black Team winning, 30-27. Two additional bouts were wrestled as exhibitions that did not count toward the team score.
Coming in as the nation’s No. 1 signing class, the Cowboy freshmen put on a show in their Gallagher-Iba Arena debut.
The No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2020, Dustin Plott picked up a second-period fall of Cade Lindsey after freshmen Jakason Burks and Trevor Mastrogiovanni squared off early in the day at 125 pounds. Mastrogiovanni took a 1-0 lead into the third period, where he scored seven points, including a four-point near fall on his way to an 8-1 decision. 197 pounds was another matchup between two freshman, with AJ Ferrari picking up a 6-2 decision against Luke Surber. The debut of the freshmen at 197 was one of the highlights of the day for Smith.
“I got two good guys there,” Smith said. “That’s fun to have. They are young and there is some inexperience there, but I got two guys that love wrestling and love to compete. We’re going to prepare both of those guys.”
The returning Cowboys expected to hold their spots in the starting lineup looked ready to lead Oklahoma State in pursuit of its ninth-consecutive conference championship.
Reece Witcraft opened the day with a 3:57 fall of Colten Klein at 125 pounds and Dakota Geer pinned Christian McCutcheon in 2:36 in his return to 184 pounds. 2020 Big 12 champions Travis Wittlake and Boo Lewallen both picked up decisions over quality opponents as Wittlake defeated Joey Sanchez, 9-2 (165) and Lewallen bested Kaden Gfeller by a score of 6-0. Coming into the day, the match between Kaid Brock and Dusty Hone was the most highly anticipated pairing. The bout came down to the wire as an escape in the third period was the difference in the 3-2 score favoring Brock.
At 133 pounds, No. 1 ranked Daton Fix picked up a fall in 2:38 in his first time wrestling for the Cowboys since the 2019 NCAA Championship, while Andrew Nieman defeated Colt Newton 6-0. A senior and native of Stillwater, Nieman will get the chance to start at 133 pounds until Fix returns to the lineup in February.
“We will use Nieman at 133,” Smith said. “What a great kid he has been. As a Stillwater kid, I’m excited he gets the opportunity to start for Oklahoma State and I’m going to give that to him next week.”
Konner Doucet won a 4-3 match after two tiebreakers in the final scoring match of the day to give the Black team a 30-27 win.
Oklahoma State will officially open its season next Sunday in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys will host a doubleheader against UT-Chattanooga and Oregon State beginning at 12 p.m.