NORMAN – No. 19 Oklahoma opened its wrestling season on Friday night at McCasland Field House with a hard-fought dual against No. 11 Arizona State. The Sooners won four matches but dropped the dual by a score of 20-12.
“We just didn’t wrestle well enough across the board to win tonight,” head coach Lou Rosselli said. “I thought certain guys like Justin (Thomas) and Darrien (Roberts) looked good against their guys. But we just didn’t have the energy that we needed to compete tonight.”
The dual opened at 125 pounds when Oklahoma’s Mason Naifeh made his Oklahoma debut vs. No. 5 Brandon Courtney. Naifeh avoided a pair of shots in the opening period but Courtney won the bout 10-2 to give the Sun Devils a 4-0 lead.
Another tough test for the Sooners came at 133 where No. 10 Tony Madrigal dropped a 13-3 match with No. 12 Michael McGee.
Oklahoma picked up its first win of the night at 141 pounds where All-American Dom Demas battled his way to a 2-1 victory in TB-1. He was able to ride No. 23 Peter Lipari in the tiebreaker session to open his year with a win and move the scoreboard to cut into the Sun Devils’ lead.
Making his debut at 149 pounds was transfer Mitch Moore, who controlled his bout with Cory Crooks and fought off a late charge to win 4-3. Moore, the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year, moved the Sooners within two points of Arizona State in the team score column.
The Sooners’ night was highlighted by No. 16 Justin Thomas’ thrilling 6-2 decision over No. 10 Jacori Teemer. Thomas turned the Sun Devil in the first period and almost registered back points, but the turn was stopped by the official for dangerous action. The Sooners’ redshirt senior scored another takedown before the buzzer sounded to claim the 6-2 win and give the Sooners a 9-8 lead at the break.
“It’s always nice to get a win against an opponent like that, but it doesn’t matter if the team doesn’t win,” Thomas said. “I had a gameplan going into the match and was able to do some of the things I wanted, but there’s always room for improvement, so I just have to keep working.”
Jake Stiles made his collegiate debut for the Sooners, matching up with No. 5 Anthony Valencia at 165 pounds. The redshirt freshman showed why he was one of the top recruits in the state of Illinois as a senior, battling with Valencia for seven minutes, but Stiles gave up a takedown with seconds left in the third period to drop the match 3-1.
Anthony Mantanona then dropped his bout at 174 via an 8-3 decision to Trey Munoz to give ASU a 14-9 advantage.
Darrien Roberts got Rosselli’s squad back on track at 184 pounds when he controlled his match with Cade Belshay to convincly win 4-1. The sophomore is now 7-0 vs. unranked dual opponents in his career.
Jake Woodley endured a marathon match with No. 8 Kordell Norfleet, battling off Norfleet’s shots time and time again. The victory was awarded to Norfleet via a riding time tiebreaker after neither wrestler could separate after two overtime and tiebreaker periods.
At heavyweight, redshirt freshman Josh Heindselman made his collegiate debut against Cohlton Schultz. The two 285-pounders traded blows but Schultz was able to get the best of the young Sooner via 3-2 decision, as the Sun Devils won 20-12.
The Sooners are back in action on Jan. 17 when they travel to Morgantown, W.Va., for a tri-meet with West Virginia and Bucknell.