In a display of formidable wrestling prowess, the Oklahoma Sooners, under the seasoned guidance of Head Coach Roger Kish, showcased their talent at the Michigan State Open this Saturday. Leading the charge were Tate Picklo, Stephen Buchanan, and Josh Heindselman, each securing championship titles, propelling the team to an impressive season opener.
The Sooners, ranked No. 21 nationally, faced a challenging field that included four other top-25 teams, yet emerged with a remarkable 49-25 overall record. This achievement underscores their preparedness and resilience in the face of stiff competition.
Tate Picklo, competing in the 174-pound category, exacted sweet revenge in the championship bout. He triumphed over Alex Cramer of Central Michigan with a decisive 7-2 decision, avenging an earlier season defeat where Cramer had dominated with a 16-5 major decision. This victory not only marked a personal milestone for Picklo but also highlighted the intense rivalry between these two top-25 wrestlers.
Stephen Buchanan’s journey to the title in the 197-pound bracket was nothing short of spectacular. The Wyoming transfer and No. 3 ranked wrestler in his weight class dominated his opponents with two technical falls, culminating in a shutout against No. 22 Evan Bates of Northwestern in the championship bout, securing a 9-0 major decision. Buchanan’s remarkable 66-5 scoring run at the start of this season reflects his sheer dominance and technical mastery in the sport.
Josh Heindselman, competing in the heavyweight category, clinched the final title for the Sooners. His journey to the top of the 285-pound podium was marked by resilience, overcoming two previous runner-up finishes at the MSU open. His victory over Bryan Caves of Central Michigan, cemented with an early takedown, showcased his strategic acumen and physical prowess, leading to a 4-2 decision victory.
The Sooners’ depth was further highlighted by the performances of four wrestlers who battled through the consolation brackets to secure top-three finishes. Sophomore Conrad Hendriksen and redshirt seniors Jace Koelzer, Cael Carlson, and Giuseppe Hoose showcased their skill and determination in their respective weight classes.
Hendriksen, competing in the 125-pound freshman/sophomore division, displayed remarkable talent, outscoring his opponents 36-2 leading up to a nail-biting final against Kaden Chinavare of Central Michigan, which he narrowly lost 4-3.
Jace Koelzer’s journey in the 133-pound category was marked by a series of hard-fought victories, culminating in a thrilling sudden victory over Michael Kaminski of Northern Illinois for the third-place finish.
Cael Carlson’s consistent performance in the 165-pound bracket, securing all wins by decision, earned him a well-deserved third-place finish. His teammate, Mannix Morgan, also showed commendable effort in the same weight class.
The 184-pound category saw Giuseppe Hoose achieving a close 4-3 decision victory over Matt Zuber of Northern Illinois, securing a third-place finish.
In other weight classes, Gabe Vidlak and Kaden Smith competed in the 133-pound bracket, both finishing with a 2-2 record. Willie McDougald claimed a fifth-place finish in the 149-pound category, while Jared Hill secured a win in the 157-pound fifth-place bout through a forfeit.
Gerrit Nijenhuis and Carson Berryhill also represented the Sooners, with Nijenhuis medically forfeiting in the 174-pound fifth-place match and Berryhill finishing 2-2 in the 184-pound category.
As the Sooners prepare for their upcoming duel against Little Rock on November 17th and the Reno Tournament of Champions on December 17th, they carry forward the momentum and confidence gained from their outstanding performance at the Michigan State Open. This event has not only set a high bar for the season but also showcased the depth and talent within the Oklahoma wrestling team.