Oklahoma State plays host to Oklahoma in Bedlam rivalry this Sunday

By Richard Immel USA Wrestling | Dec. 03, 2014, 5:51 p.m. (ET)
 2014 NCAA Champion for Oklahoma State 
Alex Dieringer. Austin Bernard Photo.


It is called Bedlam.

When in state rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State step to the line anything and everything is fair game. Records and rankings go out the window when two of the most prestigious wrestling programs in history go toe-to-toe in one of the nation’s oldest, tradition filled rivalries.

The No. 9 Cowboys (2-1) are set to face the unranked Sooners (3-3) in the historic Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater this Sunday at 2 p.m. (CST).

John Smith’s Oklahoma State squad is coming off a close 19-15 loss on the road to top-ranked Minnesota. Bedlam could provide just the spark the Cowboys need to bounce back from their only loss on the year.

“This is a week to get all the things you have been stressing all year in line because people do take the match serious and want to win,” Smith said. “I don’t think it takes a lot to get motivated for Bedlam. It’s definitely a match that you have great memories from or you have bad memories. It’s a match you want to wrestle and a match you will remember. Of all the matches you remember, you remember this one.”

The Sooners have stared down a brutal early season schedule having matched up with and losing to three ranked opponents in No. 4 Cornell, No. 6 Missouri and No. 23 Rutgers.

Sooner headman Mark Cody is encouraged by the performance of his young squad so far this year, despite the early season struggles.

“As you always do when you have a young team, you are just trying to develop as the year goes on and let them know that we have very talented guys here, but talent will fail you if you don’t work hard,” Cody said. “The good thing is our talented guys are working very hard to try and get where they need to be.”

Last season the two powers split dual matchups, with each team winning on its home mat. The Sooners won the first dual 16-15 in Norman while the Cowboys avenged that loss with a 29-9 win in Stillwater two months later.

John Smith and the Cowboys have not forgotten the loss in Norman last year that came down to the final bout, with freshman Ross Larson defeating future All-American Austin Marsden 3-2 to clinch the win for Oklahoma.

“They all sting. Bedlam probably stings a little bit more because it’s a little closer to home and we feel that there is a responsibility there, from our standpoint of performing well and not leaving things on the mat. I felt like last year in that first dual meet we left a lot of wrestling on the mat and that’s why our hands didn’t get raised at the end,” Smith said.

It will be a dual of fresh faces in Stillwater this Sunday.

Oklahoma lost five All-Americans from its starting squad one year ago including NCAA Champions Kendric Maple and Andrew Howe. By the same token Oklahoma State will have big shoes to replace with two-time National Champion Chris Perry and two-time NCAA runner-up Tyler Caldwell graduating.

Led by NCAA Champion Alex Dieringer, the Cowboys look to be the favorites in this battle, boasting seven nationally ranked wrestlers to only three for the Sooners.

“It is one of the biggest rivalries in college sports so it’s really cool to be a part of it,” Dieringer said. “There are going to be a lot of people in the stands and it is going to be fun to wrestle in front of all those people.”

In addition to Dieringer, the Cowboys are returning two All-Americans from one year ago, NCAA finalist at 149 pounds Josh Kindig and 8th place finisher at 285 pounds Austin Marsden.

Ranked No. 4 nationally, Kindig is projected to face freshman Shayne Tucker in the 149-pound bout on Sunday.

“Kindig has had an interesting career here. Nothing has been easy for him. He has had some serious injuries and redshirted in the middle of his career and of course came back finished second in the nation. He demonstrates all kinds of real leadership in the room,” Smith said.

No. 5 Marsden will face No. 11 Ross Larson in one of only two battles between ranked opponents this Bedlam.

“Austin Marsden has had a better start than he’s ever had. It seems his conditioning level, his attention span is where I like it,” Smith said. “He’s got a tough match on Sunday against an upcoming guy who has a lot of possibilities. I remember last year this was the match that it came down to and Austin fell short. Those are things that stand out in your mind and hopefully you improve on them and develop through some of those disappointing losses.”

From an Oklahoma standpoint, Larson has shown potential to becoming a solid competitor at 285 pounds for the Sooners.

“Ross Larson is very dangerous. The reason he is dangerous is he doesn’t stop wrestling. For a heavyweight he’s very capable of doing some great things for us this year,” Cody said.

The other match featuring ranked opponents pits No. 14 Justin DeAngelis of Oklahoma going up against No. 17 Anthony Collica of Oklahoma State at 157 pounds. Collica competed at 141 pounds for the Cowboys last season but has decided to make the jump to 157 lbs. this year.

The Sooners are returning one All-American from last season in Cody Brewer at 133 pounds. Brewer has placed 7th and 8th at the NCAA tournament the last two years and enters his junior campaign as a national title contender.

“It is just another match, but obviously it is a bit bigger because it is Bedlam. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, it is a big dual,” Brewer said. “I’m going to go to work out there, wrestle whoever they put out there and work as hard as I can for as long as I can.”

“It is cool to go to somewhere like Stillwater and if you are up in the match or you take somebody down, the crowd gets silent. It is cool to get that feeling,” Brewer said.

Another anticipated bout will be at 125 pounds as Sooner freshman Ryan Millhof takes on No. 13 Eddie Klimara for the Cowboys. The Sooner faithful are expecting big things from the true frosh.

“Ryan Millhof at 125 is doing a great job for us. He went out against Cornell against the number two ranked guy in the country and you could tell there wasn’t any fear there. He just went out there and got after it. I just like his attitude. There are a lot of great freshmen that come into college ready to go and I think he is one of them,” Cody said.

With both squads sending out a lot of young wrestlers who will compete in Bedlam for the first time, expect bonus points to play a major factor in the outcome of the dual.

“I think it’s a matchup that is very tight. I think it will come down to bonus points possibly. I think they will have their best performance after some of their trips and being able to compete out east. Some of the disappointment they feel like they had, I’m sure they will iron it out and become a better team because of it so for that reason I think we are in for a tough dual,” Smith said.

“I’m going for bonus points. I’m going for a pin. I want to help the team out and get a comfortable lead,” Dieringer said. “I feel like we can blow them out pretty good if we wrestle to our abilities, but if we let up it could be a close dual.”

If one thing is certain, both sides in this rivalry will be focused and prepared to bring home a victory for their university.

“How often in our sport do we walk into a gym and its packed? I think that no matter what, if most of them are against you or most of them are for you, you still get excited about going out and wrestling in front of so many people,” Cody said.