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Oklahoma State wrestling: Freshman Reece Witcraft to forgo redshirt

Witcraft went 4-0 and won the OCU Open at 133 pounds this past weekend.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman Reece Witcraft will wrestle for Oklahoma State at 133 pounds this weekend in Pennsylvania, coach John Smith said Wednesday afternoon.

Witcraft went 4-0 and captured the OCU Open title this past weekend in his collegiate debut. The Broken Arrow product racked up the second most team points for OSU with 26. He won back-to-back individual state championships to close out his high school career, and won the 2018 Ironman title and 2017 Cadet Fargo crown.

“(The OCU Open) helped me with Witcraft,” Smith told the media. “We’re at a pinch at 133, and should I or shouldn’t I (have him wrestle)? This is an opportunity for him to grow up. We need to see him grow up and do somethings mentally in matches that maybe he’s been allowed to do for maybe too long a period of time.

“For that reason, I just really feel like it’s a good opportunity for him to learn the hard way. He looked good this weekend and looked like he grew up a lot.”

Witcraft takes over the 133 spot from Daton Fix, who was the NCAA runner-up last season as a redshirt freshman but is using an Olympic redshirt this season as he prepares to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Smith was expected to redshirt Witcraft while two-time NCAA All-American Kaid Brock finished his college career at 133, but the Stillwater native tore the ACL in one his knees in August. Brock could still return late this season.

OSU opens its dual season at 7 p.m. Friday at Drexel in Philadelphia then wrestles at 1 p.m. Saturday at No. 10 Lehigh in Bethlehem. With a tight turn around, Smith could opt to have Witcraft wrestle one dual and turn to redshirt freshman Conner Wilson for the other. Wilson, who was 26-6 at Pratt Community College in Kansas prior to transferring, was 3-1 at 141 pounds last season and an injury caused him to miss most of the season.

Redshirt senior Nick Piccininni, who went undefeated during the regular season and finish fifth at 125 pounds at the NCAA tournament, has taken Witcraft under his wing. Piccininni told Witcraft to keep things simple heading into the duals.

“I did tell him one thing, ‘wrestling is wrestling. You’ve been doing it your whole life, so nothing is going to change. If you go out there and do what you’ve been doing since you were a little, little kid it’s not much different,’” Piccininni said. “He’s just going to treat it like any other time. It’s his first time so it’s probably exciting for him.

“He’s good and definitely capable and prepared.”

Other notes

  • Redshirt sophomore Kaden Gfeller (141 pounds) and redshirt senior Joe Smith (174) did not compete at the OCU Open, but will “most likely” travel with the team, but it’s unknown whether they’ll be in the lineup.
  • Junior Alex Kauffman (184) has been suspended for violating team rules, and his status going forward is unclear.
  • Redshirt sophomore heavyweight Cornelius Putnam also did not wrestle at the OCU Open and will not travel due to academic reasons. Classmate Austin Harris wrestled one match at the OCU Open then was pulled from the tournament for precautionary reasons after he “dinged” a previous injury. Harris will start at heavyweight.
  • Redshirt junior Dakota Geer or redshirt freshman Anthony Montalvo will wrestle at 197. Geer, a Edinboro transfer and Pennsylvania native, split time between 184 and 197 last season and claimed All-American honors at 184 as the No. 26 seed. Montalvo, a two-time California state champ for powerhouse Buchanan, wrestled exclusively at 184 in open tournaments for the Cowboys.