NCAA finalists Daton Fix (left) and Mason Parris (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
If you are a fan of high-level wrestling in unusual atmospheres then this event is for you. On Friday, No. 12 Oklahoma State will host No. 6 Michigan, at Globe Life Field, the home of the MLB's Texas Rangers in the "Bout at the Ballpark". Last season, the Cowboys dropped a dual against Iowa in the stadium, and they are underdogs going into this bout. However, the match actually sets up quite well for Oklahoma State, and Michigan is dealing with some injuries at key weight classes. The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the dual.
The dual will broadcast live on the MatScouts Rokfin Page. This is not a pay-per-view event so you can watch if you already subscribe to InterMat or MatScouts on Rokfin.
125: No. 20 Jack Medley (Michigan) vs. Reece Witcraft (Oklahoma State)
Medley wrestled in only one dual prior to the holiday break, but he has assumed the starting role in the second semester. Since January, he has gone 6-2 including victories over Tristan Lujan (Michigan State) and No. 7 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin). Last weekend, Medley dropped a 4-3 decision against No. 10 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) on Friday before receiving a forfeit against Maryland on Sunday.
Trevor Mastrogiovanni was the starter at this weight for the Cowboys until recently. During his absence, his main substitute has been true freshman Zach Blankenship who has an 8-5 overall record, but is 0-4 in dual meet matches. Earlier this week, coach John Smith announced on his radio show that Reece Witcraft has cut down from 133 pounds and will make his 125-pound debut this weekend.
Witcraft qualified for the NCAA tournament at 133 pounds as a true freshman in 2020. Since then he has mostly been a spot starter. Last season, he competed in a pair of open tournaments at 125 before moving back to 133 for this season. Witcraft holds a 14-4 record on the year and last wrestled at the Southern Scuffle where he went 3-2 with losses coming against Zach Redding (Iowa State) and Connor Brown (Missouri).
Prediction: Medley decision over Witcraft
133: No. 12 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan) vs. No. 2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)
Ragusin has qualified for the last two NCAA tournaments, but he is still looking to lock down a spot on the All-American podium. His season so far has been filled with both ups and downs. In Big Ten duals, Ragusin has picked up victories over No. 30 Taylor LaMont (Wisconsin) and No. 16 Joe Heilmann (Rutgers), but he has also dropped matches against No. 18 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) and No. 9 Jesse Mendez (Ohio State).
Fix has been his normal dominant self this season. He holds a 16-0 record and won the title at the Southern Scuffle. Last weekend, he knocked off some of the best contenders in the Big 12 as he bested both No. 11 Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa) and Zach Redding (Iowa State). The three-time NCAA finalist will almost certainly find himself in title contention once again this year.
There is a chance that this match is a low-scoring affair. Ragusin usually tried to slow it down against higher-level competition, and Fix, at times, is more than willing to play that game.
Unfortunately for Ragusin, this strategy will likely not pay off against Fix. Look for the Cowboy to bring home a decision for his squad.
Prediction: Fix decision over Ragusin
141: No. 25 Cole Mattin (Michigan) vs. No. 22 Carter Young (Oklahoma State)
Mattin has built a 12-6 record so far this season, but he likely wants to change his current momentum as he has lost three-straight matches. The losing streak began with a 7-2 decision against No. 5 Beau Barlett (Penn State), and Mattin then dropped a pair of two-point matches against No. 18 Joey Olivieri (Rutgers) and No. 19 Dylan D'Emilio (Ohio State).
Young switched from Northwestern to Oklahoma State at the very last minute last school year. He qualified for the NCAA tournament and finished with a 12-9 record. Young has gone 9-8 this year and has taken his share of high-profile losses. However, he picked up an impressive 3-0 victory over former highly ranked recruit No. 24 Casey Swiderski (Iowa State).
That victory over Swiderski might be a sign that he is rounding into form just in time for the tournament season. Mattin will have a tough time breaking his current streak here as Young appears to be headed in the opposite direction.
Prediction: Young decision over Mattin
149: Fidel Mayora (Michigan) vs. No. 20 Victor Voinovich (Oklahoma State)
Michigan's starter No. 21 Chance Lamer has been out of action with an injury recently. Mayora has been filling in and has done quite well under the circumstances. He has gone 2-2 in four dual matches, but the two losses are against No. 13 Shayne Van Ness (Penn State) and No. 3 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State). In his last match, he scored a 12-0 major decision over Joe Fisk (Maryland).
Voinovich came to Oklahoma State as a highly regarded recruit, and he has joined the lineup after going 16-1 as a redshirt last season. In his first year as a starter, he has gone 11-5, but he enters this match after dropping back-to-back bouts against No. 14 Colin Realbuto (Northern Iowa) and No. 10 Paniro Johnson (Iowa State).
Voinovich has taken some lumps so far this season, but he has shown that he is able to win matches at this level. This might turn out to be a swing bout of the dual, but Oklahoma State should be able to put it in the win column.
Prediction: Voinovich decision over Mayora
157: No. 10 Will Lewan (Michigan) vs. No. 14 Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State)
Lewan's memorable run through last year's NCAA tournament highlighted his ability to win close matches. This year, he has once again found himself in tight contests as three of his last six matches have gone to overtime. Unfortunately, Lewan has dropped overtime matches against No. 12 Chase Saldate (Michigan State) and No. 9 Levi Haines (Penn State) before bouncing back with a three-match winning streak. Last weekend, Lewan bested No. 25 Paddy Gallagher (Ohio State) in sudden victory before decking Maryland's Kevin Schork on Sunday.
Gfeller qualified for the NCAA tournament at 149 pounds in 2019 and 2022. He has moved up to 157 pounds this year and has gone 13-4. He has picked up wins over No. 17 Brayton Lee (Minnesota) and No. 24 Cesar Alvan (Columbia). Last weekend, Gfeller dropped an overtime match against No. 20 Derek Holschlag (Northern Iowa) before bouncing back with a 3-1 decision over No. 27 Jason Kraisser (Iowa State).
This match will almost certainly be close. If he chooses to turn on the offense, Lewan should be able to run down a takedown. It will be more when and how he chooses to pick his spots, but his strategic prowest should be enough for a victory here.
Prediction: Lewan decision over Gfeller
165: No.5 Cameron Amine/Alex Wesselman (Michigan) vs. No. 24 Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State)
Amine shockingly pinned No. 12 Carson Kharchla (Ohio State) in overtime for one of his biggest victories of the season, but he also appeared to injure his knee in the match. He was not in the lineup for Michigan's next match against Maryland. Amine is a two-time All-American and appears to have taken a step forward this season with victories over No. 27 Caleb Fish (Michigan State) and No. 6 Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin).
Against Maryland, Michigan sent out Alex Wesselman who has wrestled only three matches so far this season and is still looking for his first victory in college. He suffered a fall against Maryland's John Martin Best.
After qualifying for the last three NCAA tournaments at 157 pounds, Sheets has moved up to 165 pounds for what appears to be his last season of college wrestling. The transition has been rough at times, and he has gone 10-8 on the year. Last weekend, he picked up a second-period fall against No. 13 Austin Yant (Northern Iowa) and kept No. 2 David Carr (Iowa State) to a two-point decision.
Amine's injury status will say a lot about the result here. If he is able to go, he should be the favorite against Sheets. However, if he stays out of the lineup, Sheets should be able to handle Wesselman.
Prediction: Sheets major decision Wesselman
174: No. 28 Max Maylor (Michigan) vs. No. 6 Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State)
Maylor was forced into a starting role as a redshirt freshman back in 2020. He finished that season with a 5-18 record and failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. After two seasons as a backup, Maylor has reentered the starting lineup this year and has shown clear improvements. His record currently stands at 15-5 and is coming off a weekend where he scored a 10-7 decision over Dominic Solis (Maryland).
Plott finished sixth last year to become an All-American for the first time. He has somewhat quietly put together a very strong campaign this year. Plott holds a 15-1 record with his only defeat coming in an upset against No. 22 Aaron Olmos (Oregon State). The Cowboy has picked up wins over No. 11 Bailee O'Reilly (Minnesota), No. 31 Andrew Berreyesa (Northern Colorado) and No. 10 Peyton Mocco (Missouri).
Despite Maylor's improvements, Plott will likely be too much in this match. Outside of the one defeat, Plott has looked like a contender at this weight this season. The Cowboy enters the match as the heavy favorite and bonus points are not out of the question if he can build an early lead.
Prediction: Plott major decision over Maylor
184: No. 9 Matt Finesilver (Michigan) vs. No. 11 Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State)
Finesilver transferred to Michigan after three NCAA qualifying seasons for Duke at 174 pounds. He has moved up to 184 pounds at the new school, and he has had plenty of positive results. Finesilver's record currently stands at 16-5, and he has picked up victories over No. 15 Brian Soldano (Rutgers), No. 14 Layne Malczewski (Michigan State), and No. 13 Gavin Kane (North Carolina).
Wittlake finished fourth at the NCAA tournament in 2021 to become an All-American at 165 pounds. He returned last season and failed to qualify after going 0-2 at the Big 12 tournament. For this season, Wittlake surprisingly moved up 184 pounds. At the new weight, he has gone 12-2 and claimed the title at the Southern Scuffle.
Wittlake's two losses have come against the highest-ranked wrestlers he has faced Munoz and No. 10 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota). Finesilver represents an interesting test here. If Wittlake wants to return to the high end of the podium, he will likely need to win multiple of these types of matches. The result here will say a lot about his prospects moving forward since Finesilver is not the type to roll over.
Prediction: Wittlake decision over Finesilver
197: Brendin Yatooma (Michigan) vs. No. 19 Luke Surber (Oklahoma State)
197 pounds has been a tough weight for Michigan this season. Yatooma has been the starter most of the way, and his record currently stands at 5-9. Excluding a forfeit he picked up against Maryland, Yatooma won only one match in the month of January. One bright spot came when he put a scare into No. 21 Cameron Caffey (Michigan State) before dropping the bout in rideouts.
Surber bumped up to heavyweight last season and qualified for the NCAA tournament as a redshirt freshman. He is back down at 197 pounds this season and has a 13=5 record. Surber was riding a four-match winning streak before dropping a 7-2 decision against No. 5 Yonger Bastida (Iowa State) last weekend. Earlier this year, the Oklahoma State representative picked up victories over former Cowboy Keegan Moore (Oklahoma).
Oklahoma State should be expected to pick up points in this match. Surber enters as the favorite, but Yatooma showed against Caffey that in the right circumstances, he can threaten an upset. The Cowboys are likely hoping to add bonus points here, but Yatooma has only given up major decisions against No. 17 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State) and No. 4 Max Dean (Penn State).
Prediction: Surber decision over Yatooma
285: No. 1 Mason Parris (Michigan) vs. No. 24 Konner Doucet (Oklahoma State)
With Gable Steveson leaving college wrestling for the WWE, Parris has stepped into the role of dominant heavyweight. After finishing fifth at the last NCAA tournament, Parris has cemented himself as the favorite this year with a 21-0 record and several signature wins. The biggest to date came against No. 2 Greg Kervliet (Penn State) who defeated Parris at the last tournament. In the rematch, Parris took a 3-1 decision.
With Surber moving down this season, there was a spot for Doucet to join the starting lineup. After a pair of seasons as a backup, he has gone 13-4 to start the season. All four of his losses have been one-point losses with two coming in overtime. Doucet went 4-1 in the month of January. He had been riding a winning streak before dropping a 3-2 decision against No. 15 Tyrell Gordon (Northern Iowa) last weekend.
Parris has been on a mission this season. Not only should the odds heavily favor him in this contest, but he also will almost certainly put bonus points on the board.
Prediction: Parris fall over Doucet
Team Score Prediction: Oklahoma State (23-12)