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Oklahoma State wrestling: 5 things to watch vs. No. 12 Minnesota

The No. 7 Cowboys look to bounce back in their home opener.

2018 NCAA Div I Wrestling Championships Session One Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The No. 7-ranked Oklahoma State wrestling team will try to bounce back from a controversial loss Sunday when they have their home opener against No. 12 Minnesota at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Cowboys (1-1) are coming off a 21-20 loss on the third criteria to Lehigh (1-0), who moved up four spots to No. 7 in the NWCA coaches poll. OSU was without two starters and had to forfeit at 133 pounds after freshman Reece Witcraft failed a second skin check even though he wrestled the night before.

The Gophers (1-1), meanwhile, were upset by unranked Rider 21-17 last Friday then won seven weight classes at the Daktronics Open on Sunday in South Dakota.

If OSU defeats Minnesota, Cowboys coach John Smith will past Bobby Douglas (Iowa State/Arizona State) for sole possession of fifth place on the all time wins list with 428 dual victories. The Cowboys have won four straight duals against the Gophers since 2015.

Here are five things to watch this weekend:

Kaden Gfeller’s potential season debut

Smith said Gfeller, who is ranked No. 10 at 141 pounds, will be “ready to go and he’ll weigh in.” If Gfeller isn’t though, Smith will turn to Dusty Hone once more. Hone went 1-1 last weekend with a 6-0 decision at Drexel then a 3-2 loss at Lehigh. Whichever Cowboy goes out on the mat will have a tough bout against No. 4 Mitch McKee. The senior Golden Gopher is a three-time NCAA qualifier and took sixth at the NCAA tournament last season for All-American honors.

Ranked vs. ranked at 149

There will be another ranked vs. ranked match at 149 pounds with No. 7 Boo Lewallen against No. 10 Brayton Lee of Minnesota. Lewallen has won all of his matches but one with bonus points, while Lee has four of 10 wins by bonus points.

What happens at 174?

Last weekend, Andrew Shomers moved up to 174 with Joe Smith out and went 1-1. Shomers lost by major decision to No. 2 Jordan Kutler of Lehigh before Anthony Montalvo and Dakota Geer scored 11 points for the Cowboys at the next two weights. Joe will be out again, but John didn’t say what OSU’s plan is for 174. The Cowboys could call on Shomers again or possibly move redshirt freshman Travis Wittlake up and have Shomers at 165. The Gophers will send out No. 10 Devin Skatzka, who is 9-1 with six pins for and one against.

Bounce back performances

Witcraft didn’t have the best debut in a 5-1 loss at Drexel. He locked up with double underhooks in a quest to throw or do an inside trip against his opponent, but was unsuccessful. He’ll have to diversify his offense moving forward. Like Shomers, Wyatt Sheets also loss by major decision to a top-15 ranked opponent at Lehigh. Sheets was in the match early before being blitzed with a takedown and two four-point near falls. Both Cowboys, especially Sheets, have winnable bouts.

Bonus points from big names

This figures to be another tight dual so OSU needs to have bonus-point wins from its top guys like Nick Piccininni and Dakota Geer. Piccininni has the tougher match on paper with Pat McKee, who is 7-1 with six bonus-point wins (four pins). If either Cowboy doesn’t have the last match, their wins could give OSU some momentum in the dual before Witcraft or Austin Harris take the mat. Speaking of Harris, he’ll be up to heavyweight against another natural 197 pounder in Bobby Steveson (3-1). The senior Gopher is the older brother of Gable Steveson, who finished third at NCAAs last season. Gable, the face of the Gophers program, would be a favorite in this match to get a pin, so it’s a good thing Harris draws Bobby instead.


Lineups

125: No. 4 Nick Piccininni vs. Pat McKee

133: Reece Witcraft vs. Brent Jones

141: No. 10 Kaden Gfeller/Dusty Hone vs. No. 4 Mitch McKee

149: No. 7 Boo Lewallen vs. No. 10 Brayton Lee

157: Wyatt Sheets vs. Carson Brolsma

165: No. 15 Travis Wittlake vs. Bailee O’Reilly

174: Andrew Shomers vs. No. 10 Devin Skatzka

184: No. 25 Anthony Montalvo vs. Owen Webster

197: No. 10 Dakota Geer vs. Dylan Anderson/Garrett Joles

285: Austin Harris vs. Bobby Steveson


How to watch

What: No. 12 Minnesota at No. 7 Oklahoma State

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater

Live stream: ESPN+

Radio: Hot 93.7 KSPI-FM