NORMAN – The Oklahoma wrestling team is set to return to the mat on Friday night when it opens its season in a dual with No. 11 and reigning Pac-12 champion Arizona State.
A LONG AWAITED RETURN
The Sooners return the mat for the first time since last March when they host No. 11 Arizona State inside historic McCasland Field House. The two top-25 teams will face off in a traditional 10-match dual, followed by exhibition matches to help both rosters meet the NCAA qualifying threshold.
Rosselli’s squad returns all but one wrestler who saw action in 2019-20, featuring a lineup that showcases six NCAA qualifiers, two All-Americans and a pair of UWW/U23 national champions. The Sooners added 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year Mitch Moore to the roster via transfer from Virginia Tech. Moore is a two-time NCAA qualifier at 141 pounds and will compete for the Sooners at 149 pounds.
Due to limited seating capacity related to COVID-19 precautions, OU will not sell tickets to the Sooners’ home dual vs. Arizona State on Jan. 8 at McCasland Field House. Home and visitor student-athletes will receive a limited number of complimentary tickets on a pass-list basis. Ticket holders are required to follow CDC guidelines and wear masks at all times at all wrestling events. Gates will open one hour prior to competition time. It is strongly suggested that ticket holders be tested for COVID-19. Pass-list members showing any symptoms for COVID-19 should stay home as they will not be allowed inside the venue.
The Sooners’ home dual vs. Oklahoma State on Feb. 7 will be held at Lloyd Noble Center and is scheduled to be a ticketed event for the public. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Jan. 12 and can be purchased through SoonerSports.com or by calling the ticket office at 405-325-2424.
A LOOK BACK
The Sooners qualified six for the 2019 NCAA Championship, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team has six returning qualifiers: Tony Madrigal (133), Dom Demas (141), Mitch Moore (149) via transfer, Justin Thomas (157), Anthony Mantanona (174) and Jake Woodley (197). Demas and Mantanona both finished as runners-up at the Big 12 Championships and earned All-American honors, bringing Oklahoma’s All-American total to 276 all-time.
The team finished with a 5-7 record in dual action, but finished the year strong winning two of its final three duals and finished in sixth at Big 12s after tallying 83 team points, five more than in 2019.
#TheRise IS HERE
The Oklahoma wrestling program has been one of the most dominant wrestling programs in the country since the inception of collegiate wrestling. The Sooners have seven team national titles, 23 conference championships, 67 individual national champs, 185 individual conference champions and 276 All-Americans.
The NCAA named Oklahoma the fourth-greatest wrestling dynasty in the country in the summer of 2020 and the program has been on the rise since Rosselli took over the program, which in turn has resulted in the highest preseason ranking since he arrived in Norman.
SOONERS IN THE RANKINGS
The Sooners appear in all three major preseason polls. The NWCA Coaches Poll tab Rosselli’s squad as the No. 19 team entering the opener, FloWrestling ranks the Sooners No. 18 and Intermat named Oklahoma the No. 14 squad in the nation. The Sooners are the third-highest ranked squad in the Big 12 in all three polls.
The three primary individual rankings selected a host of Sooners to place inside the top 25. FloWrestling and Intermat both tab six Sooners as top-25 wrestlers in their respective weight class, while Track Wrestling ranks nine of the Sooners’ 10 starters inside the top 30.
Flo Wrestling/Intermat/Track Wrestling
125: Mason Naifeh – NR/NR/NR
133: Tony Madrigal – 10/8/8
141: Dom Demas – 6/6/6
149: Mitch Moore – 13/18/16
157: Justin Thomas – 16/15/14
165: Jake Stiles – NR/NR/25
174: Anthony Mantanona – 6/8/5
184: Darrien Roberts – NR/NR/25
197: Jake Woodley – 13/12/14
HWT: Josh Heindselman – NR/NR/26
Friday’s dual will be the 45th meeting between the Sooners and Sun Devils. The schools first met in 1966 and most recently faced off at the Virginia Duals in January 2019 when the teams split a pair of meetings. Oklahoma last hosted Arizona State in 2012 when the Sooners scored bonus points in seven of their eight matches to win 33-7. OU has won three of the last four meetings.
SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS
Arizona State is the reigning Pac-12 champion, winning three of the last four conference titles. They boast six ranked wrestlers, including three inside the top 10: No. 5 Brandon Courtney (125), No. 10 Jacori Teemer (157), No. 8 Kordell Norfleet (197).
The Sun Devils are led by Zeke Jones, who is in his seventh year at the helm of the program. Jones, a three-time All-American at ASU in the 1980s, has turned the Sun Devils’ program into one of the best in the country. ASU is 1-0 on the season after defeating Little Rock 39-3 in the season’s opening week. The Sun Devils won bonus points in five of their matches vs. the Trojans, including three wins via fall at 157, 184, 197.