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Cowboys Aim for Fifth-Straight Big 12 Title

STILLWATER – The second-ranked Oklahoma State wrestling team opens the championship tournament season this weekend as it travels to Tulsa, Okla., to compete at the Big 12 Championships.

Action at the event is set to start Saturday morning at the BOK Center and run through Sunday afternoon.

Tournament Schedule
The Big 12 Championship is divided into four sessions over two days of competition. Saturday’s action will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday competition will begin at 8 a.m. A look at the full schedule:

Saturday March 4
Session I -11:00 a.m.
Preliminary & Quarterfinal Matches
Session II – 6:00 p.m.
Semifinal & Consolation Quarterfinal Matches

Sunday March 5
Session III – 8:00 a.m.
Consolation Semifinals, 3rd & 5th Place Matches
Session IV – 1:00 p.m.
Championship Matches

Watch the Cowboys
Fans can watch the first three sessions of action at the Big 12 Championship live on FloWrestling. Fox Sports Oklahoma will carry the championship matches beginning on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Listen to the Dual Live
Fans can listen to both duals live on 93.7 KSPI-FM or okstate.com with Roger Moore on the call.

In the Polls
The Cowboys enter this weekend’s tournament ranked No. 2 in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll and the Intermat Tournament Rankings.

Individually, Oklahoma State has all 10 starters ranked in each of the four major national polls. Returning NCAA Champion 141-pounder Dean Heil remains slotted at No. 1 in all four major polls. Aside from Heil, six other Cowboys received top-eight rankings from Intermat, including Kaid Brock (133, No. 3), Anthony Collica (149, No. 2), Joe Smith (157, No. 6), Chandler Rogers (165, No. 8), Nolan Boyd (184, No. 4) and Austin Schafer (HWT, No. 6). At 125 pounds, Nick Piccininni is ranked No. 10, while senior Kyle Crutchmer is ranked ninth at 174 and Preston Weigel is ranked No. 9 at 197.

Returning Big 12 Champs
Head coach John Smith returns five reigning Big 12 Champions and six total in Dean Heil, Anthony Collica, Joe Smith, Nolan Boyd, Preston Weigel and Kyle Crutchmer. With championships each of the last three years, Collica will look to make history by becoming the eighth Cowboy wrestler to earn four career conference titles. Boyd and Heil are both hunting their third Big 12 Championship.

About the Cowboys
Oklahoma State has proven itself one of the deepest lineups in the country thus far into the 2016-17 campaign. This much was to be expected heading into the season, as head coach John Smith returned 2016 NCAA Champion at 141 pounds Dean Heil, along with All-Americans Nolan Boyd, Anthony Collica and Joe Smith from an NCAA runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships in Madison Square Garden last spring. The Cowboys also return valuable experience in 2015 All-American Kyle Crutchmer, who has also been a major contributor in the Cowboy lineup as a senior after returning from an injury that cut short his junior season.

While the Cowboy roster certainly boasts its fair share of proven talent, the emergence of “young guns” Kaid Brock, Chandler Rogers, Preston Weigel and Nick Piccininni has been a welcome development for Smith and his staff. Meanwhile, senior heavyweight Austin Schafer has come on well in his final run as a Cowboy, knocking off five ranked opponents on his way to his current 18-1 mark this season.

The Cowboys posted a historic regular season campaign, going undefeated at 14-0 for the first time since 2005 and the 46th time in school history. During the regular season, OSU turned in eight wins of 30 points or greater. The team enters this weekend looking for the program’s 51st conference championship.

Depth has been a major storyline for the Cowboys this season as the team broke tournament records for team points scored and margin of victory at the Southern Scuffle last month. The win followed up a team win at the Reno Tournament of Champions, despite no Cowboy starters making the trip to Reno.

Along with Smith, who is in his 26th season at the helm of the Oklahoma State wrestling program, the Cowboys are led by associate head coaches Eric Guerrero and Zack Esposito, along with volunteer assistant coach Chris Perry.

Cowboys at the Conference Meet
When Oklahoma State takes the mat for the Big 12 Championships, it will be hunting its 15th Big 12 tournament title in 20 attempts since the league held its first championship in 1997.

The Cowboys have won 50 team conference titles all-time (including the 2012 and 2013 regular season titles), claiming six Southwest Conference championships from 1917-25, four Missouri Valley Conference championships from 1925-28, 24 Big Eight Conference championships from 1958-96 and 14 Big 12 Conference championships (including the 2012 and 2013 regular season titles) from 1997-present.

Cowboy wrestlers have combined to win 269 conference individual titles through the years – one in the Southwest Conference, 23 in the Missouri Valley Conference, 151 in the Big Eight Conference and 91 in the Big 12.

John Smith at the Conference Meet
Coach John Smith has led the Cowboys to 18 conference championships (including the 2012 and 2013 regular season titles) and has coached 102 individual conference champs since taking over the program in 1991-92.

Under Smith, Oklahoma State has finished either first or second at the conference meet 20 times in 23 eligible years (Smith inherited an OSU program that was on probation at the time of his hiring and was not eligible to compete for the conference crown his first two seasons.)

He is a 13-time selection as Big 12 Coach of the Year to go with his two Big Eight Coach of the Year accolades.

Last Time Out
The Oklahoma State wrestling team took its first loss of the dual season last month in the NWCA National Dual finals, falling to No. 2 Penn State, 27-13, in front of a record crowd at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Sunday’s match drew an attendance of 14,059, which not only surpassed the previous arena record for wrestling of 10,082 set in 2001 against Oklahoma, but also set a new Gallagher-Iba Arena record. The previous record was set when the Cowboy basketball team hosted Missouri in 2007. That crowd reached 14,044.

Feb. 19, 2017  |  Gallagher-Iba Arena  |  Stillwater, Okla.
125: No. 11 Nick Piccininni (OSU) inj. def. No. 2 Nick Suriano (PSU) 3:34
133: No. 3 Kaid Brock (OSU) MD George Carpenter (PSU) 17-6
141: No. 1 Dean Heil (OSU) dec. No. 10 Jimmy Gulibon (PSU) 3-2
149: No. 1 Zain Retherford (PSU) vs. No. 2 Anthony Collica (OSU) 2-1
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf (PSU) TF No. 6 Joe Smith (OSU) 24-9
165: No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU) MD No 8 Chandler Rogers (OSU) 12-4
174: No. 7 Mark Hall (PSU) dec. No. 9 Kyle Crutchmer (OSU) 3-2
184: No. 2 Bo Nickal (PSU) fall No. 4 Nolan Boyd (OSU) 0:38
197: No. 9 Matt McCutcheon (PSU) dec. No. 8 Preston Weigel (OSU) 3-2
HWT: No. 3 Nick Nevills (PSU) dec. Derek White (OSU) 10-5

1-2-3 Punch
While the Cowboys’ lineup is littered with elite talent from top to bottom, one would have a hard time finding a more devastating stretch for opponents in any lineup than the one-two-three punch packed by Kaid Brock (133), Dean Heil (141) and Anthony Collica (149).

This season, the Cowboy trio has combined for a 64-3 record with a 41-3 mark in duals and a 24-3 mark against ranked opponents. While Brock is in his first full collegiate season, Collica and Heil are highly decorated, combining for an NCAA championship (Heil), five Big 12 titles and three All-America honors. All three are ranked in the top three of their weight class by Intermat as well.

We’re Going Streaking!
At 141 pounds, NCAA champion Dean Heil boasts the longest active win streak among Cowboy starters, having won 33-straight matches dating back to last season.

Heil has been impressive in his junior season, going 24-0 overall and 15-0 in dual matches. The junior has picked up six wins over top-10 opponents, the most recent being an 3-2 decision over No. 10 Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State.

Welcome to the 100 Club
Cowboy seniors Nolan Boyd and Anthony Collica became the program’s newest members of the 100-win club this season. Boyd notched his 100th win last month with an 18-2 technical fall over Martin Mueller of South Dakota State. With the win, Boyd moved to 100-33 for his career, becoming the 40th Cowboy in program history to reach the century mark. Boyd is now tied for 32nd on the program all-time wins list with a 106-34 record.

Collica picked up his 100th win last month against Edinboro in a 4-1 decision over No. 11 Patricio Lugo to become the 41st Cowboy to reach the century mark. With 103 wins, Collica is now tied for 36th on the all-time program wins list.

Boyd Will Be Boyd
Cowboy 184-pound senior Nolan Boyd has been on a tear of late, racking up eight wins in his last nine matches over the last month, including six bonus point wins in that stretch.

Boyd has posted five technical falls over his win streak to bring his season total to nine.

On the season, Boyd has racked up an 18-4 overall record with a 12-2 mark in dual action. Ranked fourth in the latest Intermat rankings, the Edmond, Okla., native’s only losses this year have come at the hands of No. 1 Gabe Dean and No. 3 Sammy Brooks.

Can’t Stop Schafer
After senior heavyweight Austin Schafer pinned South Dakota State’s Alex Macki last month, head coach John Smith referred to him as “King Kong”.

After making the move to heavyweight for his senior campaign despite competing at 197 pounds for the previous three years of his career, Schafer has proven himself in the new class. Schafer has racked up an 18-1 record with 12 bonus point wins thus far into his senior season. With a combined 0-9 mark against ranked foes during his first three seasons in Stillwater, the Cowboy heavyweight has also beaten five ranked opponents this year, with three of those wins coming in the top 10.

In an impressive win at the Southern Scuffle, Schafer made the OSU record books when he dropped 11th-ranked Jared Johnson of Chattanooga for a fall in only 18 seconds for the 17th-fastest pin in Cowboy wrestling history.

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