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Top 10 Oklahoma State sports stories of 2017

From Dean Heil repeating as national champion to baseball and softball in Big 12 tournament title games, there were a lot of positives stories in 2017.

NCAA Wrestling: Division I Wrestling Championship Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Another year has come and gone in a blink of an eye. There were some highs and lows in Oklahoma State athletics in 2017, but luckily for the Cowboys and Cowgirls the highs outweighed the lows.

Here are the top 10 Oklahoma State sports stories of 2017:

10. Softball falls to OU in Big 12 championship series

Only one week removed from the Bedlam regular-season series, the Cowgirls faced rival OU in the Big 12 softball title game. The Sooners outscored OSU 10-2 with two shutouts in the regular-season sweep and kept things rolling with a 2-0 victory to capture the Big 12 title in Oklahoma City. However, the Cowgirls weren’t done in the postseason as they won three regional games including a 1-0 win over No. 1 Florida.

9. Wrestling wins fifth consecutive Big 12 championship

The Cowboys won eight of the 10 final matches to accumulate 176.5 points and set a Big 12 record with a 83-point margin of victory at the Big 12 wrestling championship Sunday at BOK Center in Tulsa. It was the Cowboys fifth consecutive team title and 15th Big 12 title.

The top performers were redshirt freshman Nick Picininni upsetting No. 1 seed Josh Rodriguez of North Dakota State at 125 pounds, Anthony Collica winning his fourth Big 12 title at 149 and true freshman Joe Smith outscoring his opponents 32-0 during the tournament.

8. Baseball wins Big 12 tournament championship, McCain named MOP

The Cowboys captured the Big 12 baseball championship crown for the second time in program history with a 6-5 win over Texas at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. OSU became the first No. 8 seed in Big 12 history to win the conference tourney and secured the conference's automatic NCAA tournament bid.

The victory was also the 200th of head coach Josh Holliday’s career. In his fifth season at the helm, Holliday has now led his alma mater to the NCAA tournament each year. Garrett McCain was named the Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player after going 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. He is the first player in OSU history to win the Big 12 tourney's MOP award.

7. Gundy to Tennessee rumors

OSU head football coach Mike Gundy’s name surfaced in the wild Tennessee coaching search after he met with then athletic director John Currie. Gundy ended speculation about the possible move to Knoxville with a three words in a tweet: “Cowboy For Life!” The Vols also met with Gundy prior to hiring Butch Jones in 2013, but Gundy also decided then to remain at his alma mater.

6. Washington’s big season

James Washington became OSU’s career receiving yards leader and second Biletnikoff Award winner as college football’s top wide receiver in 2017. Washington was No. 1 nationally in receiving yards with 1,423 and yards per game at 118.6 in the regular season. He ranked 10th nationally and first among Biletnikoff finalists in yards per reception at 20.6.

Washington caught five passes for 126 yards in the Camping World Bowl, giving him 4,472 yards for his career and passing Rashaun Woods for the school mark.

5. No. 1 OSU vs. No. 2 PSU wrestling dual

The Cowboys and Nittany Lions drew a Gallagher-Iba Arena record 14,059 fans to a dual between the top two teams in the country in the NWCA National Duals Championship Series. OSU won the first three matches before PSU rattled off seven wins to win the dual 27-13.

The GIA attendance record and the No. 1 vs. No. 2 aren’t the only reasons why this made the fifth spot on this list. FloWrestling.com had exclusive broadcasting rights for the event, but the site crashed at the beginning of the meet. FloWrestling did use Periscope and Facebook Live to stream the dual. Many wrestling fans voiced their displeasure via social media and email to the company, which offered an apology and a full refund for the mishap.

4. Football makes history with 3rd 10-win season

The Cowboys made history this year with its first run of three consecutive 10-win seasons in program history. No. 17 OSU capped its season with a 30-21 win over No. 22 Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl. At the start of the season, the Cowboys had bigger aspirations than the Camping World Bowl though as they were expected to contend for a Big 12 title.

OSU’s three losses all came at home against Big 12 foes: 44-31 to then No. 16 TCU, 62-52, to then No. 5 Oklahoma and 45-40 to unranked Kansas State. The Cowboys would’ve had to win at least two of those games to reach the Big 12 championship game and have a shot at making the College Football Playoff.

3. Underwood leaves for Illinois

Brad Underwood led OSU men’s basketball to its first 20-win season since 2013-14, but one day after a opening round loss to Michigan in the NCAA tournament he left for Illinois. It was a stunning turn of events for the Cowboy program, who saw Underwood sign a six-year, $18 million contract with the Fighting Illini to replace John Groce. Six days later, OSU promoted assistant coach Mike Boynton Jr. to head coach. The Cowboys are off to a 10-3 start under Boynton, which includes a win over then No. 19 Florida State in the Orange Bowl Classic on Dec. 16.

2. Heil’s 55-match win streak ends

Dean Heil was riding high into his redshirt senior season following his second straight NCAA title at 141 pounds. But he ran into his biggest conference rival in Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith on Dec. 19 at Storey Gym in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Heil was unable to score in sudden victory and fell 2-1 to Meredith as his 55-match win streak came to an end in Meredith’s hometown.

1. Heil repeats as undefeated NCAA champion

Heil posted a perfect 32-0 record with a 15-0 dual mark en route to his second consecutive NCAA title at 141. He recorded ranked wins over No. 16 Jared Prince of Navy, No. 8 Jaydin Eierman of Missouri, No. 5 Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers in the NCAA tournament before upending No. 6 George DiCamillo of Virginia, 6-3, in the title bout. He also won his third straight Big 12 title with a win over Meredith, and earned a team-leading 53 dual points during the season.