, Muskogee, OK

March 22, 2014

Close but no title for OSU at NCAA championships

Phoenix staff report

— OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State wrestling team crowned two national champions en route to a third-place team finish at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships Saturday night, with Chris Perry winning the 174-pound title in the first bout of the night and Alex Dieringer claiming the 157-pound championship with a bonus-point victory.

“I think my goal every year as a coach is to walk away from the national tournament with a good feeling,” coach John Smith said. “Although we had a third-place finish, I like the fact that we made a run at it. Back in early February after losing five-straight matches this year, it didn't look like it was coming together, and it did for us.”

Penn State won its fourth consecutive NCAA wrestling title, holding off Minnesota 109.5-104 on Saturday night. Rounding out the top five was Iowa in fourth with 78.5 and Edinboro (Pa.) fifth with 62. OU finished the meet in 10th with 45 points.

For the second year in a row, the finals began at 174 pounds with Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry setting the tone for the night and winning his second-straight national title with a 4-0 decision over Oklahoma’s second-seeded Andrew Howe.

“I told everybody I was going to set the tone this match,” Perry said. “I told them I would make adjustments from the last time I wrestled him, and I did. I hand fought him a little more last time. This time I knew he thought I was going to not shoot on him, and I wanted to let him know right off the whistle I'm coming for you. Like coach (Smith)  said before I ran out of the tunnel, ‘go out there and set the tone and let him know you're here to go.’”

The NCAA runner-up finish was the second of Howe’s career as he also placed second in 2009 as a freshman at Wisconsin. In 2010, Howe won the 165-pound title, and in 2011, he placed third.

“Andrew has impacted this program tremendously,” OU head coach Mark Cody said. “He has accomplished more than most in this sport as a four-time All-American and an NCAA champion. But more importantly, he is a great human being, and we are blessed to have him as a part of our program.

Dieringer’s title was the first of his career and came via 13-4 major decision over Dylan Ness of Minnesota.

“Winning on that big stage, there's really nothing better,” Dieringer said. “I've been working so hard in the room, doing extra workouts, all that. So to know that it all paid off, it's a great feeling.”

After a stellar tournament appearance, OSU’s Josh Kindig finished his third NCAA Championships as a finalist and a first-time All-American.

The junior turned in the best NCAA performance of his career and nearly ended it with a national title, but fell in a hard-fought sudden victory to Northwestern’s fifth-seeded Jason Tsirtsis, 3-1.

The fourth Cowboy finalist to wrestle was senior Tyler Caldwell, who faced top-seeded and undefeated David Taylor of Penn State.

Caldwell held his own against the favored Taylor, but fell in a decision to the Hodge Trophy winner, 6-0.

It marked Caldwell’s second runner-up finish in the championship meet and was his fourth All-America honor.

“We made a good run at it and we had two NCAA individual champions,” Smith said. “We had a two-timer with Chris Perry and then added a new one to the list with Alex Dieringer. We have three All-Americans returning next year and I look forward to beginning the process again.”