Roger Kish was announced as Oklahoma’s new head coach on May 2nd and shortly thereafter spoke with InterMat. In that interview, Kish stated his desire to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail, particularly with in-state talent. That has been evident over the past few days as the Oklahoma staff has secured verbal commitments from a pair of top-100 wrestlers from the Class of 2024, along with a past NCAA qualifier.
Starting with the veteran, the Sooners will get a boost with the addition of Cael Carlson, a 2022 national qualifier for the University of Minnesota. Carlson went 18-17 that season and finished seventh in the Big Ten at 165 lbs. Last season, Carlson went 10-7 and saw action in five conference duals. During the 2022-23 season, Carlson scored wins over a pair of national qualifiers in Danny Braunagel (Illinois) and Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State). The Sooners already have a returning national qualifier (Gerrit Nijenhuis) at 165 lbs; however, he does have a redshirt available. Carlson does appear to have two years of eligibility remaining.
Upping Oklahoma’s in-state recruiting was a huge priority, so a verbal commitment from Bixby, Oklahoma’s Clay Giddens is a welcome sight for Sooner fans. Giddens is a three-time Oklahoma state finalist and a two-time champion in the 6A classification. On the national stage, Giddens has placed at the Walsh Ironman in each of the last two years (7th/8th). In 2021, Giddens finished seventh in Fargo in 16U freestyle and sixth at UWW Cadets. Giddens is currently ranked 56th overall in the Class of 2024 and 14th in the nation at 152 lbs. He projects in the 149/157 lb range for the Sooners.
Oklahoma’s second top-100 verbal came from #83 Owen Eck of Andale, Kansas. Eck is a three-time Kansas 4A state champion with his most recent title coming at 144 lbs. While Eck hasn’t made the podium at some of the major national tournaments, he does own multiple, lopsided wins over 2022 Fargo Junior freestyle All-American Tucker Cell, also of Kansas. Eck also projects in the 149/157 lb range for Oklahoma.
The pair of recruits join Iowa’s Koufax Christensen as members of the Sooners Class of 2024. Oklahoma appeared to have a loaded recruiting class in 2023; however, most of the top-ranked wrestlers asked to be released from their NLI's once the head coaching search lingered. Without a huge Class of 2023, going in hard on the Class of 2024 was a necessity and the new Oklahoma staff has done that already.