Several spikeball nets scatter across the orange mats before practice in Oklahoma State.
Coaches and wrestlers work up a sweat before practice with the reaction-based play that has become popular in wrestling rooms.
The boys are also competitive with it. Hold grudges against one another in the struggle for spikeball dominance. It’s also a way for the squad to bond.
The #7 Cowboys are 3-0 and have outplayed opponents 89-15. total domination. It’s the easygoing vibe that keeps everyone relaxed.
“It’s probably one of the tightest teams I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here,” said 165-pounder Wyatt Sheets. “Everyone’s kind of jerking off with each other and that takes a lot of the pressure off.”
Here are some additional notes on OSU’s 3-0 start:
Sheets settled at 165?
John Smith likes to play around with his lineup.
He’s done this for decades and plans to do it again, eventually moving OSU’s 165-pounder Wyatt Sheets to 157.
“He’s stayed big and strong,” Smith said. “Healthy. Even though you wrestle with bigger guys, I just feel like it’s what’s best for us right now. In the future, you’re going to see several guys competing. At a few different weights, I think.”
Sheets, a seventh senior, spent his final six years at 157. Things got difficult when Travis Wittlake, OSU’s youngest 165-pounder, switched to 184. When Kaden Gfeller returned for his COVID year, he switched to 157.
Victor Voinovich, a redshirt freshman, is ranked 149th, the weight Gfeller once held.
Here’s the question: If Sheets goes down, how will that affect Gfeller and Voinovich? It’s a complicated answer, and one that’s unlikely to be resolved until the move occurs. Or if it happens. Smith insists that will be the case. Sometime.
Every guy sticks to the weight. There don’t seem to be any problems. But the Cowboys are only three doubles in there.
“I like 165, but the coach says I’m going down, so it’s not me,” Sheets said. “I’m fine with both. I’ll just do as I’m told.”
Though the Cowboys have until December 4th off, ranked middleweight matchups against Minnesota await.
Voinovich will fight against #21 Michael Blockhus. He’s a fifth year for the Golden Gophers. If Gfeller stays at 157, he would likely meet #5 Brayton Lee, a two-time All-American. Sheets would wrestle Andrew Sparks.
Here’s a breakdown of OSU’s starting middleweights.
Victor Voinovich (3-0)
6-0 decision over Chase Zollmann (Wyoming)
5-3 decision over Kolby DePron (Bucknell)
15-13 sudden win over Manzona Bryant (Lehigh)
#11 Kaden Gfeller (1-1)
6-3 decision over Logan Ours (Wyoming)
7-6 decision loss to #8 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh)
#17 Wyatt Leaves (3-0)
6-2 decision over Cole Moody (Wyoming)
6-0 decision over Chase Barlow (Bucknell)
5-0 decision over Brian Meyer (Lehigh)
Young looking for traction
Look at the season results among the Oklahoma state starters and you’ll find an anomaly. You’ll find the same thing if you look at the Wyoming OSU box score.
Carter Young’s 4-3 loss to Wyoming’s Job Greenwood at 141. This makes Young the only OSU starter with a loss record to date (1-2).
“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” Smith said. “He works hard. He comes to practice. He focuses on the right things. He just needs to keep his focus on changing his environment a bit and work towards winning close matches if he has to. Find ways to stretch points.”
Young escaped Greenwood three times from below – a position he struggled with last season.
Greenwood won the U23 Greco-Roman World Team Trials this summer.
“Carter was a lot better this week than he lost last week,” Smith said. “I can live with it. I thought he was aggressive. I thought he was trying to find a way to score points but it just wasn’t enough.”
Kaden Gfeller’s life looks very different from a year ago.
He is the father of his seven-month-old daughter Charlotte. he is engaged He started a full-time job as a medical salesman. He then quit to return to OSU for his COVID year. An additional roster opportunity became available in late September and Gfeller took advantage of it.
He put his professional career on hold. His bosses — former college wrestlers Greg Oplotnik and Brandon Rouse — understood. Oplotnik won a national championship with Central Oklahoma. Rouse wrestled in Oklahoma.
Gfeller will return after the season.
“I thought I could work for the rest of my life, but I could only wrestle for a year,” he said.
He thought he retired last season at 149 after an appearance in the NCAA championships. He had no intention of returning until it became possible. So he was heavy. Wrestler’s diets no longer applied to him. Just the Dad Bod Diet.
“He was a tank,” Smith said.
Gfeller considered the hypotheses and returned for possible achievements.
“I just saw it as an opportunity to achieve what I couldn’t achieve,” he said. “I think I’m capable of that… The goal was definitely to be national champion.”