By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
DES MOINES, Iowa – Oklahoma State wrestling’s strive for national title No. 35 will have to wait another year.
Despite a furious comeback in the final day of competition at the Division I Wrestling Championships, the Cowboys came up just short of ending Penn State’s reign atop the college wrestling landscape.
The Lions, utilizing five wrestlers in the finals, were able to withstand the Cowboys’ onslaught to cut a 20-point deficit after Day 2 and claim their third-straight national title by just four points over OSU.
“I don’t know if it’s that disappointing because we won two championship matches. We did our part and unfortunately they won two as well and it was enough for them to win,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “We had a good tournament and I can’t look back on this and wish for anything different. We did about as well as we could do and we gave ourselves a chance and just fell short.”
The Cowboys did leave Wells Fargo Arena with some first-place hardware Saturday.
Chris Perry saw years of work on the mat come to a pinnacle with an overtime win in the championship match at 174-pounds.
“It’s unexplainable. Most of the emotions are just out of work and the people I do it for, my family and my coaches and there’s so many people I have in my life that I just want to win for,” said Perry, who fell to his knees on the mat and fought back tears after winning the match. “As great as winning for myself, it’s just the people who helped me through it.”
Seeing Perry win his first title was extra special for Smith, who is Perry’s uncle.
“Anytime you have a family member involved there is a little bit more meaning to it,” Smith said. “I’m just glad he won because my sister doesn’t have to bark at me anymore.”
OSU senior Jordan Oliver capped his Cowboy career with a second NCAA national championship. With a 3-1 win – in which he scored a takedown with 15 seconds remaining – Oliver ended his season undefeated with opponents never having scored a takedown in his 41 matches.
“This year was going to be even tougher,” Oliver said. “Winning it once, coming back as a runner-up from last year, and knowing I lost the finals last year, I had to get that monkey off my back”
OU’s Maple claims
Kendric Maple became the first Sooner to take home an individual championship in eight years, since Teyon Ware claimed the 141-pound title in 2005, after he topped Edinboro’s No. 4 Mitchell Port with a 4-3 decision. With the title, he becomes Oklahoma’s 66th individual national champion in program history.
“It’s a feeling of absolute, total satisfaction,” beamed Maple. “It’s a great honor to be here, in this spot. I just love this sport.”
It wasn’t an exciting match – one a little out of the realm for Maple – with not much action and low scoring, but the Wichita, Kan., native nabbed the victory with a 4-3 decision, based on riding time advantage points.
– Phoenix wire report