MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

March 22, 2014

OSU third, OU ninth to begin final day

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three-time defending champion Penn State holds the slimmest of leads heading into the final day of the NCAA national wrestling championships.

The Nittany Lions have 91 points after Friday’s action, followed by Minnesota with 90.5 and Oklahoma State with 87.5. Oklahoma sits in ninth place with 45 points.

“It all depends on tomorrow,” OSU coach John Smith said. “I don’t know how much wrestling is left here. I don’t know how many additional points we need, but we gave ourselves an opportunity. On paper it didn’t look like it was too close. It looked like there were too many horses in front of us. We kind of scratched and fought.”

Oklahoma State wrestling squad went four-for-four in the NCAA semifinals, with Josh Kindig (149), Alex Dieringer (157), Tyler Caldwell (165) and Chris Perry (174) earning the chance to wrestle for NCAA individual titles. Andrew Howe was the only Sooner to advance to the finals, punching his ticket at 174 pounds.

“Finishing up this series on top would be good,” Howe said. “Like you said, the rubber match, and then just winning it here in the home crowd. I can definitely hear some people cheering out there. I know there are a lot of Sooner fans out in the audience. It’s been nice.”

Penn State and Minnesota have two finalists and seven total wrestlers remaining. Oklahoma State has four finalists, but just one other wrestler remaining,

Penn State’s David Taylor advanced to the finals for the fourth time. He defeated North Dakota State’s Steven Monk 12-5 in the 165-pound semifinals.

Penn State’s Ed Ruth also advanced to the finals. The two-time national champion defeated Cornell’s Gabriel Dean 5-3 in the 184-pound semifinals. Ruth will face No. 1 seed Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland, who remained unbeaten with a win over Old Dominion’s Jack Dechow.

“It’s a great feeling to be where I’m at. Going in, it’s a tough weight class so seeds really don’t matter,” Kindig said. “Coach has been telling us that everybody came to our city. It’s our time to own the mat. I came in like I was the best and that’s the way I wrestled. I just went out and wrestled and wasn’t thinking about seeds or anything.”

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