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'We just have to be tougher': OU wrestling's frustration boils over in skirmish after 31-3 loss to Oklahoma State

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Josh Heindselman

Redshirt sophomore 285 pound wrestler Josh Heindselman during the match against No. 4 Oklahoma State on Dec. 12.

As Bedlam rivals shook hands, Oklahoma’s Josh Heindselman shoved Oklahoma State’s AJ Ferrari, beginning a flurry of free overtime wrestling.

Ferrari pushed back before Heindselman grabbed at him and attempted to put him in a headlock. Three of Ferrari’s teammates intervened, bringing the two to the ground before others joined the fray. After being seperated, Ferrari continued his jeering at Heindselman from afar.

Heindselman’s frustration boiled over following a match where the Sooners struggled throughout. No. 17 OU (2-2) achieved only one victory in what proved to be a 31-3 trouncing by No. 4 Oklahoma State (4-0) in Saturday’s dual in Norman.

In a truly chaotic bout, Heindelman defeated fellow Oklahoma native No. 30 Luke Surber in the heavyweight match. The redshirt sophomore landed a huge takedown in the second round, slamming his old friend to the mat. The duo frequently traveled together for high school wrestling tournaments, but had yet to wrestle each other. Heindselman’s two-point takedown proved the dagger, giving the OU heavyweight a 3-1 lead he didn’t relinquish for the Sooners’ lone victory of the evening.

The dual began with OU redshirt senior Dom Demas taking the mat against OSU redshirt senior Kaden Gfeller in the 149-pound class. In his first appearance of the season, No. 6 Demas struggled, leading to his first career Bedlam loss. Demas added an escape point in the final period to tighten up the score, but it wasn’t enough. The Columbus, Ohio, native fell 9-3 while wrestling above 141 pounds, where he previously won a pair of Big 12 championships.

“(Demas) wasn’t prepared,” OU head coach Lou Rosselli said. “He got gassed and at the end of the day needs to be way better.

“I don’t think he’s 149 pounder, I think he’s a 141 pounder, but he’s such a talented wrestler he should be able to compete wherever we put him.”

Up next for the Sooners was No. 15 Justin Thomas, who  faced off against No. 16 Wyatt Sheets in the 157-pound class. The two matched each other blow for blow in the first round, including a Thomas takedown followed by a Sheets escape. The next two rounds only offered one point, which was granted to Sheets after an escape late in the third round. A sudden victory takedown gave Sheets his third victory of the season.

The evening’s third match pitted No. 29 Joe Grello against No. 5 Travis Wittlake. Grello, a Rutgers graduate transfer, remained within striking distance until the final round. Wittlake however landed a takedown paired with multiple escapes to swing the match 8-4 in his favor. After three matches, Oklahoma State led 9-0.

Anthony Mantanona took on No. 9 Dustin Plott in the 174-pound class. Mantanona battled through a physical match, which included multiple illegal hold penalties from the OU redshirt senior. In the second round, Mantanona nearly threw Plott off the mat and into the Sooners’ bench, resulting in more chirping between the in-state rivals. Plott proved too tough for Mantanona, securing a 10-2 victory over the Sooners’ wrestler.

“In some weight classes they were just tougher than us,” Rosselli said. “It wasn’t skill, it wasn’t that they were just better than us. They were just tougher than us in some weight classes.”

Oklahoma junior Darrien Roberts took on Oklahoma State standout Dakota Geer in the 184-pound class. No. 6 ranked Geer extended his winning streak against No. 18 Roberts to three matches, landing multiple takedowns en route to an 8-2 victory.

In the evening's marquee match, redshirt senior No. 8 Jake Woodley met No. 1 AJ Ferrari in the 197-pound class. Woodley was able to get a hold of Ferrari’s leg, but was unable to capitalize on his opportunities. Ferrari, a defending national champion, took down the OU star 6-3, improving Oklahoma State’s lead to 19-0.

“When you get to his leg you have got to finish and maintain head position,” Rosselli said of Woodley’s loss to Ferrari. “If you're going to be in a shootout you have to be ready for a shootout.”

No. 19 Joey Prata fought with No. 7 Trevor Mastrogiovanni in the 125-pound class. OU’s redshirt senior Prata trailed only one point entering the third round, but struggled down the stretch, falling 6-4.

“He went for the dive underneath, which isn’t fundamentally sound,” Rosselli said. “The good thing about Joey is that he does give a lot of effort and he’s really determined.”

The 133-pound class saw senior No. 14 Tony Madrigal wrestle No. 2 Daton Fix. The Cowboys’ redshirt junior dominated the match, leading 12-1 before pinning Madrigal in the third period.

In the final match of the evening, Oklahoma redshirt junior Jacob Butler faced No. 29 Carter Young in the 141-pound class. The match began as a defensive clinic, with the two tied at no score after the first round. Following three second-round escapes for Butler, the Elgin, Oklahoma, product trailed 4-3 entering the final round. Young pulled away from Butler in the third period, coming out ahead  9-4.

OU will regroup over winter break before getting back to action Jan. 14-15 at the Virginia Duals in Hampton, Virginia.

“We just have to be tougher,” Rosselli said. “We have to perform better than that.” 

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