TULSA, Okla. -- Seven Cowboy wrestlers clinched their spots in the Big 12 Championship finals Saturday as Oklahoma State finished day one with 129.5 team points to sit comfortably in first place in the team standings.
OSU, which has now slated at least six Big 12 finalists for 10 consecutive seasons, holds a 37-point advantage over second-place Iowa State. The three other Cowboys who did not reach the finals advanced in the consolation bracket and could finish as high as third. Additionally, OSU and Iowa State (four finalists) are the only teams at this year's tournament with all 10 wrestlers advancing past the first day of the event.
"I like the way the day finished, pushing seven through to the finals," coach John Smith said. "Kaid Brock is having a pretty good tournament. I liked the way Gfeller bounced back. It seemed like he had a lot more energy tonight. There were several guys who showed some real excitement. Those last two wins were big. Every time you close the evening keeping some guys alive, that's always good. Overall, it was a good day with a good effort. It didn't go perfectly, but I saw a lot of hustle and a lot of effort."
With an 11-1 record in the second session, the Pokes went 26-3 in individual matches on Saturday. Fourteen of those bouts came with bonus points attached, including nine in the first session and five in the second.
OSU's seven finalists this year include Nick Piccininni (125 pounds), Daton Fix (133), Kaid Brock (141), Kaden Gfeller (149), Jacobe Smith (174), Preston Weigel (197) and Derek White at heavyweight.
Piccininni and Weigel will go for their third career conference titles Sunday night, while White will be gunning for his second and the others try for their first.
Jacobe Smith powered his way to the finals with an 18-5 major decision over fifth-seeded Hayden Hastings of Wyoming. It was his second bonus-point win of the day after picking up a first-period fall in the quarterfinals against Fresno's Dominic Kincaid, marking his first trip to the Big 12 finals.
Also earning bonus points for the Cowboys in their semifinals bouts were Piccininni, Weigel and White. Piccininni took the Pokes' first match of the session with a dominant 15-2 win over Rico Montoya of Northern Colorado. Weigel shut out Oklahoma's Jake Woodley, 13-0, and White notched his 15th bonus-point win of the season, with an 11-1 major decision over Tate Orndorff (UVU).
Fix advanced to the finals, defeating West Virginia's Matt Schmitt, 6-1, and Brock followed with his own 8-3 decision over Chris Sandoval of Northern Colorado. It marks Brock's third-consecutive trip to the Big 12 Conference finals. Freshman Gfeller will make his first appearance in the finals at the event after winning a 7-2 decision over Fresno's Khristian Olivas.
After dropping quarterfinal bouts, Joe Smith and Wyatt Sheets each won their consolation matches Saturday evening. Sheets won two decisions, the first coming over UNI's Paden Moore. The second win came with a buzzer-beating takedown and dramatic 7-5 decision over Colten Carlson (SDSU). Smith collected a major decision over OU's Jeremy Thomas, then defeated Fresno State's Isaiah Hokit, 8-2.
Dakota Geer is also set to wrestle in the consolation semifinals on Sunday after dropping his semifinal bout to second-seeded Drew Foster (UNI), 6-3.
"We have to recognize that this tournament gets tougher and you want to get tougher as a team," John Smith said. "Winning seven of the eight in the semifinals, we got tougher. We recognize the competition gets a little better. Some of those weights guys are fighting for qualifications, so they're going to give you everything. I thought we were really tough in those semifinals matches."
The second and final day of the tournament begins at noon on Sunday with the consolation semifinals, third-place matches and fifth-place matches. The finals will be held in session four, which begins at 7 p.m. Sunday.
2019 Big 12 Wrestling Championship
March 9, 2019 | BOK Center | Tulsa, Okla.
Team Standings After Session Two
1. Oklahoma State - 129.5
2. Iowa State - 92.5
3. Northern Iowa - 62.5
4. Oklahoma - 56.5
5. Wyoming - 50
6. Fresno State - 48
6. North Dakota State - 48
8. Utah Valley - 43.5
9. West Virginia - 35.5
10. Northern Colorado - 15
11. South Dakota State - 14.5
12. Air Force - 11.5