The No. 8-ranked Oklahoma State wrestling team will have their second Big 12 showdown this weekend on Sunday when they visit No. 16 Iowa State. To learn more about the Cyclones, Cowboys Ride For Free did a question-and-answer session with ISU wrestling writer GrappleCy of SB Nation’s Iowa State site, Wide Right Natty Lite.
BC: There was some talk going into this season that this could be the time Iowa State ends Oklahoma State’s reign atop the Big 12. Does that still seem true now that we’re at this dual? What’s the general feeling for Iowa State going into Sunday?
GC: I think it is still very possible. Looking at the recently released coaches panel you see both teams having six guys with legitimate shots to make the Big 12 finals. So the semifinal matches in Tulsa will be the deciding factor in which team comes out on top. Health will play in to it though, ISU really needs Jarrett Degen (149) back and Oklahoma State really needs Joe Smith (174) back if either are going to be able to separate themselves. As far as the dual it is a really tough call — I can see a path where ISU wins six matches (133, 141, 157, 174, 184 and 285) and takes the dual. But 133, 141 and 184 all could really go either way so it’s just as likely it ends up a 5-5 split and it coming down to bonus points, which I think OSU will get more of.
BC: What led to Sam Colbray and Marcus Coleman switching spots at 174 and 184? And how has each guy improved since the move?
GC: Going into the break Colbray was looking like a guy who was right on the edge of the All-American conversation at 184 while Coleman was struggling with the cut to 174. So switching made a lot of sense — you see if a slimmed down Colbray can break through in to the All-American rounds at a lower weight while you let Coleman spend more time focusing on his wrestling instead of his weight cut. It’s still a little early to tell how it is going to play out since both guys are still settling in to their new weights. Colbray is 4-1 with his one loss being a 6-5 nail-biter to No. 8 Anthony Valencia of Arizona State while Coleman is 2-3 with his losses coming from Nos. 1, 10 and 15-ranked guys. Basically at worst it looks like a wash, with Colbray performing at 174 about how he did at 184 while Coleman performs at 184 about how he did at 174. But my hope is as they settle in they’ll each be able to move up a notch in the pecking order at their new weights.
BC: OSU and ISU are both without last season’s starters at 133 (Daton Fix and Austin Gomez) this season. How has Todd Small looked at the weight this season?
GC: Todd Small had a rough introduction to the starting lineup, losing 1-3 in Hilton to an unranked guy from Bucknell in the opening dual of the season. So right off the bat a lot of people were down on him and didn’t expect a whole lot. But since that loss he’s put together a perfectly solid season and his current No. 14 ranking in the coaches panel feels about right. One thing is for sure — he’s a lot less win big or go home than Gomez was. He wins the matches he’s supposed to win and loses the ones he’s supposed to lose, which makes it a lot easier for me to predict his matches but also is a lot less exciting than Gomez’s high flying style. Overall, ISU was lucky to have a top twenty wrestler waiting in the room when Gomez went down with his concussion.
BC: ISU head coach Kevin Dresser said earlier this week 149-pounder Jarrett Degen will weigh in for the dual. How confident are you Degen will actually be in after being out with an injury?
GC: Degen is a veteran guy so I don’t think the coaches are too worried about hurrying him back before he is fully recovered. If need be, I think they’d have no problem holding him out all the way until the postseason. Although I think the preference would be to get him at least a few matches before Tulsa. But I also think they’d like to let him knock the rust off against someone other than the No. 3 ranked wrestler in the country like Lewallen. Given all that, I think whether or not we see Degen take the mat depends on the starting weight and results up to that match. If 149 is the last match and ISU is behind by more than six points or ahead by more than six points, I think Leisure gets the call no question. But if 149 is a later match and it looks like ISU needs a win (or a loss by just a decision) to win the dual then I 100 percent expect to see Degen take the mat. What I’m not sure about is what’ll happen if things start off at 125, since if that’s the case when 149 rolls around it’ll be way too early to know what the final meet score is likely to look like.
BC: Aside from the possible Boo Lewallen-Jarrett Degen match at 149, what match are you most looking forward to seeing?
CG: Outside of the possible Lewellan-Degen matchup the ones I’d most like to see are Colbray vs. Smith and Ian Parker vs Kaden Gfeller. But it doesn’t look like we’ll get either of those matches. So with those off the table I’m really looking forward to the match at 184. As I mentioned above, Coleman is 2-3 at his new weight with all of those losses coming to top 15 opponents. Montalvo is sitting right at No. 20 right now so this match is the perfect chance for Coleman to prove whether or not he’ll be able to break in to the rankings at his new weight and maybe score some points at NCAAs.