No. 3 Oklahoma State dominates No. 6 Minnesota, 30-3, for Coach John Smith's 400th career win

By Roger Moore, Special to | Nov. 19, 2017, 9:16 p.m. (ET)
Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State battles Mitchell McKee of Minnesota in a battle of ranked stars at 133. Brock won 9-7. Photo by Austin Bernard.

STILLWATER, Okla. – At the end of the day, both coaches know it’s only November. There are improvements to be made, things to work out in all areas. Both John Smith and Brandon Eggum also know that Sunday’s 30-3 whitewash by third-ranked Oklahoma State over No. 6 Minnesota was a lot closer than the scoreboard would indicate.

The Cowboys (2-0) won 9 of 10 bouts, seven of which were not decided until the final two minutes. Two-time NCAA champion Dean Heil, who won his 49th straight match, gutted out a takedown with 13 seconds remaining to beat All-American Tommy Thorn in the opening bout at 141 pounds. It would set the tone for a number of tough, grinding seven-minute matches.

“It just means I’m old I guess,” said Smith, who saw his wrestlers earn a 400th career dual victory for the 27-year head coach. “You look back on 400 and you know a lot of athletes participated in that. You have to give your student-athletes a lot of credit for that.

“The thing I’ll take from this dual is in those tight, close matches we scored a takedown when we needed to score a takedown. In these early matches, you don’t always get what you want because you aren’t in the form you want to be in later in the year. It’s important to get your hand raised when you aren’t at your best, finding ways to win matches in the third period. We did a lot of that today.”

The visiting Gophers (2-1) beat a good South Dakota State squad in Brookings, S.D., on Friday night. Against the Cowboys the only victory came at 125 pounds where 2017 NCAA finalist Ethan Lizak mounted a massive comeback to beat All-American Nick Piccininni, 10-9. The Cowboy, who knocked off 2017 NCAA champion Darian Cruz of Lehigh two weekends ago at the NWCA All-Star Classic, raced to an 8-1 lead with a pair of first period takedowns coupled with a four-point turn. Lizak chose top in the second period and calmly and patiently waited for an opening; six near-fall points later and it was 8-7 heading to the final frame where a takedown at the 1:00 mark and 1:08 or riding time proved decisive in a 10-9 victory for Lizak.

It was, by far, the best bout of the evening.

“I knew if I started to panic I would make some mistakes,” Lizak said. “Top is obviously my best position so I knew I had to make something happen in that second period to get back in the match. I had to stay patient, couldn’t try and force anything. It’s a nice win, but it’s only November, so there is a lot of time to continue to work, to get better.

“I can’t fall behind like that against someone as quality as (Piccininni), put myself in that position. Being confident on top, though, it means I don’t have to panic, just have to stay patient.”

“Disappointed,” said Eggum, whose squad lost to OSU 34-3 in Minneapolis a year ago. “It was good to see Ethan (Lizak) battle back and get that win, that’s a good win. And we were in a lot of matches going into the third period; some guys battled and others did not complete like we need.

“It is only November and this is something to build on. It was a tough road trip, wrestling Friday at South Dakota State and coming here against a good Oklahoma State for a Sunday dual. But it is good experience and shows us some areas where work is needed.”

The rest of the dual belonged to the hosts.

Following Heil’s victory, OSU newcomer Geo Martinez turned a close match into a major decision with a reversal and near fall to beat Gopher rookie Hunter Marko, 9-1, at 149 pounds. Martinez, a transfer from Boise State before last season, joined JUCO national champion Jacobe Smith, who hammered Chris Pfarr 10-1 at 174 pounds, and Keegan Moore, a redshirt-freshman who won a wild 7-5 match with Owen Webster at 184 pounds, for their first wins inside Gallager-Iba Arena.

“It’s a good starting point, not where we want to be as a team or individually, but it’s a good place to start,” said Martinez. “First time in Gallagher, maybe some (butterflies), but not as much as I thought I might have. One thing I’ve really tried to focus on is not thinking about that stuff, not letting nerves get the best of me. (Associate head coach) Zack Esposito talks to me about how hard I work and not letting nerves beat you. Tonight I handled everything pretty well.”

“There was some nerves earlier in the week, but once I got out there I felt good. All you can do is go wrestle,” said Jacobe Smith, now 5-2 this season. “I was just thinking score, score, score, keep pushing for seven minutes. The coaches prepare us, get us ready.

“I still have a lot of development and I’m gaining confidence every day.”

OSU also got narrow decisions from Jonce Blaylock at 157, where a takedown 25 seconds into overtime against UM senior Jake Short, All-American Chandler Rogers scored a third period takedown to beat Nick Wanzek, 3-2, at 165 pounds, and All-American Kaid Brock, who used three first period takedowns, plus one in third, to edge Mitch McKee, 9-7, at 133 pounds.

Andrew Marsden, a 12-3 winner at 197, and Derek White, who edged Rylee Streifel, 5-2, at 285, also earned victories for the home-standing Cowboys in front of just under 4,000 fans on Sunday.

McKee will join current OSU freshman Daton Fix in Poland this weekend at the U23 World Championships.

#3 Oklahoma State 30, #6 Minnesota 3
141-Dean Heil (O) dec Tommy Thorn, 3-1
149-Geo Martinez (O) maj dec Hunter Marko, 9-1
157-Jonce Blaylock (O) dec Jake Short, 3-1 OT
165-Chandler Rogers (O) dec Nick Wanzek, 3-2
174-Jacobe Smith (O) maj dec Chris Pfarr, 10-1
184-Keegan Moore (O) dec Owen Webster, 7-5
197-Andrew Marsden (O) maj dec Bobby Steveson, 12-3
285-Derek Moore (O) dec Rylee Streifel, 5-2
125-Ethan Lizak (M) dec Nick Piccininni 10-9
133-Kaid Brock (O) dec Mitch McKee, 9-7

Post-Match Quotes: No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Minnesota
from Harry Endicott, OSU Sports Information

Head Coach John Smith

On his 400th victory:
“I didn’t even know it. It just means I’m old, I think. You look back on 400 and you know a lot of athletes participated in that. I’ve got a lot of pride in Oklahoma State wrestling. It’s tough to put 400 victories up. You’ve got to give your student-athletes a lot of respect because without them, you couldn’t have done this.”

On the GIA crowd:
“I’m telling people: I think we’re living the good old days in Oklahoma State wrestling. We have a lot of people who say ‘Oh, back when I went there’ and this and that and I’m like ‘Hey, we’re right there with you.’ People want to see good wrestling. People want to see you score points. We dominated on the scoreboard with takedowns. I think the thing I’m going to take from this dual is this that in the close matches, the tough matches, when we needed a takedown, we scored those takedowns. I haven’t seen Nick yet, but I’m sure he’s a little bit devastated about how that match went. That guy was a national finalist last year, and I think he showed why in the second period. It was a pretty dominant second period. He put up eight points. I think in these early matches, you don’t ever get what you want. When you see some of those mistakes, and you see guys letting up a little bit, you want to see guys go off the mat thinking, ‘I didn’t wrestle great, but I scored the takedown to win the match.’ That’s important to do and we did that.”

On Keegan Moore’s performance:
“It was important for him. That’s your first match suiting up and wrestling in Gallagher-Iba Arena. He’s from Minnesota, and he chose to come to school here, so there was a little bit of an emotion tied up in that match. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen since our discussion a few weeks ago. You either show some improvement fast or you’re not going to wrestle. I feel good about his last two weeks and what he’s done.”

On new wrestlers and their performances:
“As a starter, Jonce (Blaylock) knows he’s a starter. Joe Smith will redshirt. So those guys know that they’re going. There are still some guys that, as the season goes on, we’ll see some faces in the lineup that are different. Those new guys, I was pleased with Jacobe Smith and the outcome of that match. Keegan Moore, I was pleased with that. And that (Andrew) Marsden match: up to this point he’s wrestled pitifully. I don’t know any other word to use, but tonight he showed a little bit of game to himself that we know he’s capable of having. We’ve been all over him about his performances and I’m just glad he’s felt that pressure and has performed. Wrestling is a sport that has no lies. You better get tough when things aren’t going well, and if you don’t, it’s a rocky world that you might not ever recover from. You better grow up fast. It was good to see him showing some fight and he gave us some hope tonight.”

Dean Heil – 141 pounds, Sr.

On his match:
“I didn’t really do anything in the first two periods. When I needed to score, I was able to score. I need to keep that mentality throughout the whole match. I know I can score on a lot of these guys and I need to start from the get-go.”

On being the first match of the dual:
“I knew I had to get it rolling just for the team so Coach Smith could get his 400th win…It’s been a while since I’ve been the first match in a dual. I couldn’t think off the top of my head when that was.”

On coaching from the bench:
“I like doing it. If coach tells me stop, I’ll stop. If he’s okay with it then maybe there’s more to come. As long as I get a good break after my match.”

On being a coach:
“That’s one of the biggest things is when my wresting career is done, I would love to coach.”

Jonce Blaylock – 157 pounds, RJr.

On the crowd’s impact:
“There’s definitely something different about Gallagher-Iba. There’s more tradition and history here than any other venue.”

On the mental aspect of sudden victory:
“Coach Smith tells us every day that, expect it to be tough. No matter how prepared we are or how much better we could be. Always expect the worst outcome. Going into a match like that, it helps when you get into a situation that you don’t necessarily want to be in, but you’re prepared for it.”