NORMAN – For the first time since 2002, the Oklahoma Sooners are champions of the Big 12 Conference.
The Sooners, powered by three finalists and six NCAA qualifiers, were tied by Oklahoma State with 124 team points after Sunday night’s final session at the BOK Center in Tulsa, as the teams were named co-champions. It is Oklahoma’s 24th conference championship, and third in the Big 12, but first in 19 years. Oklahoma held a 10-point lead approaching the finals and were powered across the finish line by 141-pound champion Dom Demas.
Following the championship, Oklahoma head coach Lou Rosselli was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
“Obviously a really exciting night for our program,” Rosselli said. “We knew that our guys had this type of fight in them and so for them to show it all weekend was really special for us and our university.”
Dom Demas became a two-time Big 12 champion on Sunday night by defeating Iowa State’s Ian Parker after two tiebreaker periods when Parker was called for locked hands, but the Sooner All-American would’ve won on riding time criteria had the locked hands not been whistled. For Demas, he avenges his 2020 finals’ loss to Parker and becomes Rosselli’s first two-time champion at Oklahoma. Demas is the Sooners’ 186th conference champion.
“Really happy for Dom and what he accomplished tonight,” Rosselli said. “He has all the skills and tools to be the type of wrestler that he wants to be and I think that tonight was a big step for him as he starts to get ready for nationals in a couple of weeks.”
Tony Madrigal and Mitch Moore also competed in Sunday night’s finals, but both fell to their opponents.
Madrigal battled with No. 1 Daton Fix of Oklahoma State, securing two deep shots early in the match but the takedown defense of the top-ranked Cowboy was too much, as Madrigal was downed via 6-1 decision. He ends his unprecedented run at the Big 12s as runner-up and owns the honor of being the first unseeded wrestler to ever make a Big 12 final. He’ll turn his attention to St. Louis and the NCAA Championship, where the Chicago product will look to make a run to the podium.
Mitch Moore turned No. 1 Boo Lewallen (OSU) onto his back twice in the match, but was bested by the Cowboy, 7-6, when the final whistle blew. Moore has now appeared in two conference finals, finishing as runner-up at 141 at the 2019 ACC Championship, and became a three-time NCAA qualifier with his performance.
For the second year in a row, the Sooners qualified six wrestlers at the championship through the NCAA allocation process. Led by Oklahoma’s three finalists punching their tickets to St. Louis on Saturday, a trio of Sooners then secured their spot on Sunday in the morning session.
Justin Thomas earned a spot on the podium, finishing in third at 157 pounds. He went 2-0 on Sunday morning and 3-1 at the tournament, defeating Wyoming’s Jacob Wright and South Dakota State’s Cade DeVos to earn third. It’s the third straight year that Thomas has finished inside the top four at 157 pounds, finishing as the runner-up in 2019 and in fourth in 2020.
At 197 pounds, Jake Woodley claimed fifth at the championship after SDSU’s Tanner Sloan forfeited the fifth-place match, which gave Woodley the final allocated bid at 197 pounds. The redshirt junior has finished fifth in back-to-back years in Tulsa.
Heavyweight freshman Josh Heindselman secured his first berth to the NCAA Championship on Sunday by grabbing fourth on the podium. He knocked off No. 2-seeded Carter Isley in the consolation semifinal to secure the berth and went on to drop the third-place match with Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson.
Troy Mantanona finished sixth on the weekend, but tallied 16 team points for the Sooners after three wins via fall. The San Francisco State transfer will need an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship and was unranked in the latest NCAA Coaches Panel ranking.
At 174 pounds, Anthony Mantanona finished his championship with a major-decision win in the fifth-place match versus Air Force’s Cody Surratt. He dropped his consolation semifinal to No. 2-seeded Bryan Hastings (WYO) via fall, and due to a change in the Big 12 rules, there was no “true fourth” match between Mantanona and Oklahoma State’s Dustin Plott, meaning that Mantanona will need an at-large big to St. Louis. The All-American was ranked 23rd in the latest NCAA Coaches Panel ranking and is 8-7 on the year.
Darrien Roberts went 2-3 at 184 pounds to finish in sixth. His pin of WVU’s Anthony Carman on Saturday night helped give Oklahoma the lead following the second session. The sophomore will look for a wildcard bid to NCAAs as he did not secure an allocated bid.
The Sooners will now begin preparation for the NCAA Championship, slated for March 18-20 in St. Louis, Mo., at the Enterprise Center. The NCAA will announce at-large bids on Tuesday and brackets on Thursday, March 10.