Beavers Face Sooners Ahead of Pac-12 Tournament

Mitchell Monge, Multimedia Contributor

As the Pac-12 Wrestling Championship approaches the horizon, the Oregon State Wrestling team still has a top ranked matchup in their final dual meet.

The Beavers head into Norman, Oklahoma to face the No. 19 Sooners. The University of Oklahoma (10-6, 6-2 Big 12) comes into the meet after a loss to No. 1 Oklahoma State last Sunday.

“They’re a lot better team than last year. They’re a pretty solid dual meet team,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “We gotta wrestle. We gotta have probably our best performance of this year. (We have to) win the matches we’re supposed to, stay in and try to get some upsets in the meet.”

Entering what may be the toughest matchup of the season, Oregon State (5-6, 4-1 Pac-12) is coming in off of a weekend sweep of Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield. However, Oklahoma is a team that boasts four ranked individuals according to InterMat.com.

“It’s good to keep the momentum we got going,” Zalesky said. “Some guys are wrestling well, a lot better than they have in the past so it’s good… It (also) gives a ranked guy like (Joey) Delgado an opportunity to bounce back. They have a lot of ranked guys in the top 20, so it’s a good chance for us to knock some of those guys off and move up in the coach’s ranking.”

Associate Head Coach Kevin Roberts thinks the Beavers need to keep it simple, especially ahead of the Pac-12 tournament.

“It’s gonna sound cliche, but it’s always a lot of effort and hustle,” Roberts said. “From a broad standpoint just a lot of hustle, and a lot of aggressive wrestling, trying to score points and continuing to get better every time we step out there.”

With the Oklahoma matchup of the non-conference variety, OSU wrestlers have their conference records set already for Pac-12s, but the rest of the league still needs to complete their last matches. As five time returning Pac-12 champs, the Beavers will be looking for number six in a row this year.

“Put six or seven guys into that final round, and into the championship match where I think we’re capable…I really think we’re capable of that,” added an optimistic Roberts. “I like the group we’re taking down there as far as where they are right now, compared to where they were in November and December.”

The Beavs will be looking to pull off an upset, which means that the little things become that much more important. Zalesky has been stressing all week how critical it is to not lose matches on bonus points. Redshirt junior Cody Crawford took note and has embodied that message.

“We always peak towards the end of the year, that’s what we’re training for, so it’s time to fine tune everything and be looking good for Pac-12s,” the heavyweight said. “We just gotta compete in every position. It’s gonna be big, giving bonus points and getting bonus points, so we can’t get pinned.”

Crawford was one of two Beaver wrestlers to land pins in the last match and he is looking to continue that momentum moving forward.

The dual meet with the Sooners will start at 5 p.m. PST from McCasland Fieldhouse, followed by Pac-12 Championships all day Sunday, Feb. 26th.