The Oklahoma wrestling team concluded the 2003-04 season with a record of 14-8 with two Big 12 Champions, four All-Americans and four NCAA place winners. In Saturday mornings consolation bracket the Sooners had four wrestlers battling for third place. The Sooners finished with two third place winners and two fifth place winners. Currently Oklahoma sits in eighth place with 62.5 points. The final standings will be available after the finals Saturday night starting at 5:30 p.m. ESPN will air the finals live starting at 5:05 p.m. with the parade of All-Americans.
“It was kind of bittersweet,” Oklahoma head coach Jack Spates said. “There were a lot of high points. To have four All-Americans in the top six as young as we are is a great accomplishment.”
Senior Leonce Crump came in focused after a loss in the semi-finals and dominated his match against Greg Wagner of Michigan in the consolation bracket. Crump scored five points in the second period after scoring two in the first, which pretty much sealed the deal. Crump added four more points in the third period with riding time to pick up the major decision, 11-3. The win sent Crump to take on Cole Konrad for third place for the second time in this tournament.
Crump ended his magnificent career with a third place finish at nationals in the heavyweight division. The third place match paired Crump with Konrad for the second time. Crump started fast with a takedown in the first period, but did not score in the second and allowed Konrad one point. In the third period Crump played it smart and let the clock run down. Crump scored his last points on a takedown, and then gave up an escape. With riding time Crump won the match 5-2. The three time Big 12 Champion, two time All-American and NCAA third place finisher finished the season with a record of 36-3 and 107-18 for his career.
“It’s always good to finish the best you can,” Crump said. I was disappointed after the semis, anybody would be. Thoughts of folding definitely ran through my mind, as it would through any athletes. I kept my faith strong, my heart strong and left my heart on the mat and I feel good about the win.”
“Leonce Crump has meant so much to this program,” Spates said. “He came in Leonce Who’. I had more than one coach ask me why I recruited him. We saw potential, we saw a kid who had a dream and he worked hard to make it true. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Freshman Sam Hazewinkel bounced back from being defeated in the semi-finals to win his match against Matt Valenti of Pennsylvania in the consolation bracket to advance to the third place match. The match was slow with two competitors not wanting to make mistakes. Hazewinkel scored the only point of the match in the second period off an escape. He added riding time to win the match, 2-0, and move on to face Mario Stuart of Lehigh, who he beat in the quarterfinals, 12-5.
Hazewinkel won the third place match with ease against Stuart, 9-1. Hazewinkel scored the first six points before letting Stuart out of a hold to give him his only point of the match off of an escape. Hazewinkel added three more points with riding time to claim third place in his first NCAA appearance. Hazewinkel finished his freshman campaign with a 35-2 record.
“I’ve got mixed emotions,” Hazewinkel said. “I wanted to win it all, that was my goal, but the last eight seconds I lost the semi-final. I came back and got third, I’m real happy with that. It feels great to be an All-American, but I wanted to be a national champion. I was tasting what it is like to win, so it gives me something to work towards for next year.”
“I’m real proud of Sammy and Leonce,” Spates said. “They battled hard and both had dreams of winning it all. They came back and that’s tough to do.”
Jeff Ecklof lost a heartbreaking match against Dustin Manotti of Cornell to send him to battle Jeremy Spates of Missouri for the third time this season. The score was tied between Ecklof and Manotti when Ecklof went for a takedown. Manotti countered and scored a takedown of his own, then got the fall at the 2:52 mark.
The younger Spates faced off against his dad’s team for the last time in his career. Spates wrestled Ecklof for fifth place at 149 pounds. Spates controlled the match not allowing Ecklof to score. The final score read 7-0 ending Ecklof’s NCAA run with sixth place. Ecklof finished the season with a 33-16 record.
Third seeded Teyon Ware was sent to the fifth place match after a loss to Jason Mester of Central Michigan, 3-2. Ware escaped with 1:50 left in the match to make the score 3-2. Ware fought hard to score a point, but every move he made Mester was there to counter it. Ware was sent to the fifth place match against Nate Gallick, who gave Ware his only loss in the regular season.
In the fifth place match between Ware and Gallick there was no action in the first period. Gallick got on the board first with an escape and a takedown in the second period. Ware scored two escapes to make the score 3-2 early in the third period. Gallick scored another takedown that put the match out of reach for Ware. Ware did add one more point with an escape to make the final 5-3 and give him sixth place honors. Ware finished his injury-plagued season with a 21-5 record.
“Overall I’m very proud of these guys and their performances,” Spates said.
Oklahoma concluded the 2003-04 season with four All-Americans, two Big 12 Champions, two NCAA third place finishers and two NCAA fifth place finishers.
For live updates and full results go to www.ncaasports.com.
125 Sam Hazewinkel (OU) dec. Matt Valenti (Pennsylvania) 2-0
149 Dustin Manotti (Cornell) fall Jeff Ecklof (OU) 2:52
141 Jason Mester (Central Michigan) dec. Teyon Ware (OU) 3-2
HWT Leonce Crump (OU) maj. dec. Greg Wagner (Michigan) 11-3
125 Sam Hazewinkel (OU) maj. dec. Mario Stuart (Lehigh) 9-1
HWT Leonce Crump (OU) dec. Cole Konrad (Minnesota) 5-2
149 Jeremy Spates (Missouri) dec. Jeff Ecklof (OU) 7-0
141 Nate Gallick (Iowa State) dec. Teyon Ware (OU) 5-3