The 13th-ranked Sooners travel to Lincoln, Neb., Saturday for the Big 12 Championships.
March 5, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. - The 13th-ranked University of Oklahoma wrestling team travels to Lincoln, Neb., this Saturday, March 7 for the Big 12 Championships, held at the NU Coliseum. OU will battle conference foes Iowa State (No. 3), Nebraska (No. 4), Missouri (No. 5) and Oklahoma State (No. 12).
Wrestling will get underway at 11 a.m., with finals commencing at 7 p.m. A webcast of all the action will be streamed live on Big12Sports.com, and the finals are scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
"We are very excited to compete this weekend," head coach Jack Spates said. "The Big 12 is beastly, but when you wrestle hard and compete, you always give yourself a chance to win."
In addition to the team and individual titles awarded this weekend, wrestlers from the conference will battle to advance to the NCAA Championships, held this year in St. Louis, Mo., March 19-21. Under the new selection format, three Sooners - Ryan Smith (165 pounds), Eric Lapotsky (197) and Nathan Fernandez (HWT.) -- have already advanced prior to this weekend's championships due to the strength of those weight classes in the Big 12.
Oklahoma owns 23 conference titles overall, second best in the conference. Two of those championships have come in the Big 12 era, as current head coach Jack Spates led the Sooners to the title in 1999 and 2002. The Iowa State Cyclones have won the past two.
The Sooners enter the event with seven ranked nationally by Intermat, led by No. 6 Kyle Terry, owner of a 26-1 overall record and 24 straight. Also ranked in the top 10 is Joey Fio, ranked No. 7 at 125 pounds, and No. 10 Jeff James at 174 pounds.
Eric Lapotsky is 11th at 197 pounds, 157-pound Chad Terry is No. 15 and heavyweight Nathan Fernandez is No. 16. Pat Flynn rounds out the group of ranked Sooners, slotted No. 19 among 184-pounders.
| Probable Sooner Starters (Weight)
|| Hometown (Year)
| No. 7 Joey Fio (125)
|| Sandpoint, Idaho (So.)
| Brian Shelton (133)
|| El Reno, Okla. (Jr.)
| Seth Vernon (141)
|| Tulsa, Okla. (RFr.)
| No. 6 Kyle Terry (149)
|| Midwest City, Okla. (RJr.)
| No. 15 Chad Terry (157)
|| Midwest City, Okla. (RJr.)
| Ryan Smith (165)
|| Prineville, Ore. (RFr.)
| No. 10 Jeff James (174)
|| El Reno, Okla. (RSo.)
| No. 19 Pat Flynn (184)
|| Quakertown, Pa. (RSo.)
| No. 11 Eric Lapotsky (197)
|| Mt. Carmel, Pa. (Jr.)
| No. 16 Nathan Fernandez (HWT)
|| Lawton, Okla. (RSo.)
|| THE OKLAHOMA PROGRAM
Dating back to the 1920s, Oklahoma's overall record stands at 824-337-29 (.705). OU had its most successful decade in the 1950's with a 69-10-6 record (.911).
The Sooners own seven national championships (1936, 1951, 1952, 1957, 1960, 1963 and 1974) and have produced 256 All-Americans and 65 individual national champions. The OU program has recorded 23 conference championships, two in the Big 12 era, with the most recent in 2002.
|| OU RANKINGS RUNDOWN
The Sooners boast seven ranked among the nation's best heading into the Big 12 Championships in Lincoln, led by No. 6 Kyle Terry at 149 pounds. The Midwest City, Okla., has won 24 straight matches this season and posted a perfect 5-0 record against Big 12 foes.
Also ranked in the top 10 is Joey Fio, ranked No. 7 at 125 pounds, and No. 10 Jeff James at 174 pounds. Eric Lapotsky is 11th at 197 pounds, 157-pound Chad Terry is No. 15 and heavyweight Nathan Fernandez is No. 16. Pat Flynn rounds out the group of ranked Sooners, slotted No. 19 among 184-pounders.
|| RECAP ON THE OU SEASON
The University of Oklahoma wrestling squad experienced its most success in seven seasons, as the 2009 squad finished with a 16-4 overall record, its most since the 2002 campaign. The Sooners bounced two top 25 opponents along the way, including its in-state rival Oklahoma State on Dec. 7, marking the second consecutive victory against the Cowboys. With identical regular season records, the prestigious OU and OSU programs tied for fourth place in the Big 12 Conference.
Oklahoma climbed to No. 10 in the national polls on Jan. 6, its highest team ranking since the 2006-07 season. The Sooner squad also finished the regular season with three ranked in the top 10 in their respective weight classes, and seven total in the top 20.
The team impressively went 15-0 against non-conference foes this season, including a dominate performance at the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge, going 3-0, as well as recording a strong performance by posting a 4-0 record at the Lonestar Duals and a first place crown over a talented field at the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Classic.
Head coach Jack Spates, now in his 16th season, leads a young and talented group of Sooners into Lincoln, including Kyle Terry, winner of 24-straight and owner of a 26-1 overall record and a 5-0 conference mark.
This March, Oklahoma hopes to add to its impressive postseason resume that includes 23 conference titles (second best in Big 12), 171 individual conference champions, 256 All-Americans, 65 individual national crowns and seven team national championships.
|| MISC. NOTES
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIPS ON TV, ON THE NET...
The finals Saturday at 7 p.m. will be showcased on Fox Sports Net. To view all other wrestling action at the Big 12 Championships via webcast, fans can log on to www.Big12Sports.com.
BIG 12 TIDBITS...
• The Sooners won the conference crown in 1999 and again in 2002, both under current head coach Jack Spates.
• OU has claimed 23 conference titles in 78 years of wrestling, which is second to Oklahoma State's 32. Two have come in the Big 12 era.
• Oklahoma has claimed 171 individual conference titles in the program's history. The crowns have come in four different conferences (Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12).
• Iowa State won its second straight Big 12 crown last season with 75.5 team points. Nebraska was second with 62.5 points and Oklahoma State was third with 52.5 points. Missouri (49.5 points) and Oklahoma (24 points) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
SOONER TEAM NOTES...
• Oklahoma was 1-4 in Big 12 duals this season and averaged 13.2 points per match. OU gave up 20.2 points to conference opponents.
• On the way to its best record in seven seasons, Oklahoma topped two opponents ranked in the Top 25 at the end the regular season (No. 11 Oklahoma State on Dec. 7 and No. 17 Old Dominion on Nov. 23).
• As a team, the Sooners took down 19 individual ranked opponents on the season. Joey Fio led the Sooner pack with three upsets over the nation's best. Kyle Terry's upset over No. 3 Darrion Caldwell on Jan. 30 was the highest ranked opponent a Sooner took down this season.
• OU shutout two opponents on the year in Central Oklahoma (39-0) and Oklahoma City (47-0). The two dominant wins opened the season for the Sooners.
• The Sooners posted two 40-plus victories this season, three by winning by at least 30, six by 20 or more, two by more than 10 and three came by nine points or less.
• In the 16 wins this season, Oklahoma outscored foes 547-173. Broken down, OU averaged 27.35 points in the wins to the opponents 8.65 The average margin of defeat in the four losses this season was 9.5 points.
LAST BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP...
Last March at the Big 12 Championships held in Stillwater, Okla, the Sooners advanced five to the NCAA Championships. Joshua Weitzel placed second at the conference tourny for an automatic bid, as did 125-pound Joey Fio, 141-pounder Zack Bailey and Will Rowe at 149 pounds by placing third in their respective weight classes.
Joel Flaggert (197 pounds) was granted a wild card selection. Oklahoma finished fifth as a team with 24 team points. Iowa State won its second title, accumulating 75.5 points.
THEY'LL BE BACK...
All 10 Sooner wrestlers in the lineup Saturday at the Big 12 Championships in Lincoln will return to the team next season.
OU has only two seniors (Will Rowe and David Armstrong), who were in and out of the starting lineup this season. Six of the 10 suiting up at the Big 12's are underclassmen (freshmen or sophomores). The remaining four -- Kyle and Chad Terry, Brian Shelton and Eric Lapotsky -- are juniors.
THE 20 WIN CLUB...
Heading into the 2009 postseason, the Sooners own five wrestlers with at least 20 total wins. Kyle Terry (26), Pat Flynn (23), Eric Lapotsky (22), Jeff James (21) and Nathan Fernandez (20) all reached the mark this season.
TWICE AS NICE...
Twin brothers from Midwest City, Okla., Kyle (149 pounds) and Chad (157 pounds) Terry are both nationally ranked heading into the postseason championships according to Intermat. The twins appeared in the same Sooner lineup six times this season.
SEARCHING FOR THE NEXT OU CHAMP...
After not winning a Big 12 individual title last year at the Championships, Oklahoma is searching for its first conference champion in two years. At the 2007 Championships, OU crowned two champions, Sam Hazewinkel (125) and Matt Storniolo (149). Oklahoma has claimed at least one individual title in 10 of the past 12 Big 12 Championships (no titles in 2005 or 2008)
Oklahoma racked up 16 wins regular season wins in 2008-09, the most the program has achieved since garnering 19 during the 2002 season. That year, the Sooners went on to win the Big 12 Championship and place third at the NCAA Championships. The tally this season marks the 14th straight season Oklahoma has picked up 10 or more overall wins, all under current head coach Jack Spates.
Jack Spates picked up his 200th victory at Oklahoma with the 47-0 win over Oklahoma City on Nov. 20 and now owns a record of 214-92-11.
Averaging 14 wins a season, Spates has led OU to 14 straight campaigns of 10 wins or more and is second in all-time victories by a head coach in OU wrestling history.
He became just the second coach in school history to notch 200 wins, joining Stan Abel (coached from 1973-93, 279 wins). Dating back to Cornell, Spates' career record stands at 288-106-12.
WRESTLERS HONORED BY BIG 12...
Oklahoma's Joey Fio and Nathan Fernandez have both been honored this season as Big 12 Wrestlers of the Week after impressive wins to begin the season.
Fernandez was awarded on Dec. 15 after a dominant performance at the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Lawton, Okla., native recorded a three-match sweep at the California tournament, pinning two of three opponents, including No. 4-ranked Mitch Monteiro of Cal-Bakersfield early in the second period (3:19). The redshirt sophomore also recorded a fall versus Kelan Bragg (6:55) of Cal Poly and won by a 14-6 major decision over Kurt Klimek of Cal-Fullerton.
The Big 12 selected Fio on Jan. 19, after helping guide the then-11th-ranked Sooners to two victories over Maryland (22-15) and Arizona State (36-7). Highlighting his two victories was a pin over eighth-ranked and 2008 NCAA qualifier Anthony Robles of Arizona State. The sophomore needed only the first period to record the fall, posting his second this season with a time of 2:08.
SPATES NOW THIRD IN WINNING PERCENTAGE...
Head Coach Jack Spates has climbed to third all-time in winning percentage at Oklahoma with the successful 2009 season. He now owns a .692 percentage, overtaking Stan Abel (.690). Spates trails the legendary OU coaches Tommy Evans (.775) and Port Robertson (.750).
FOLLOW THE SOONERS TO NATIONALS...
College wrestling fans still have the opportunity to secure excellent seats when the NCAA® Division I Wrestling Championships arrive in St. Louis in March. Don't miss your chance to take in all the action at the Scottrade Center.
All-session tickets to the 2009 championships are on sale now. To order your tickets, call (800) 745-3000 (toll free) or log on to www.ticketmaster.com.
STOUT 2008 RECRUITING CLASS... Oklahoma wrestling head coach Jack Spates signed five top-70 recruits in the early signing period to wrap up one of the most impressive recruiting classes at OU in recent years. Additionally, the Sooners will welcome a talented Kansas senior and a transfer from Old Dominion in January.
Headlining the class is Jake Kemerer from Hempfield Area, Pa., ranked No. 16 overall according to Intermat and rated No. 4 in the 171-pound class by Amateur Wrestling News. Also inked for next season is Alex Ekstrom from Palmyra-Macedonia, N.Y., ranked No. 31 overall and rated the third-best among 140-pounders.
Joining them are the Lester twins, Matt and Nick, ranked No. 33 and No. 38 overall, respectively. The two hail from Eureka, Mo., and each own Missouri state titles. Matt is ranked No. 2 overall among 152-pounders and is Nick No. 5 at 140 pounds.
Jarrod Patterson from Cushing, Okla., is a three-time Oklahoma state champion entering his senior year and ranked No. 6 in the 125 pound weight class nationally. Kyle Detmer rounds out the group of seniors, garnering a 135-5 record in high school, including posting pins in 31 of 35 matches for Bishop Caroll High School in Wichita Kan., last season.
Also joining the Sooner program in January was Derek Peperas, a transfer from Old Dominion. The redshirt freshman became immediately eligible for OU upon arrival and has provided depth at 165 at 174 pounds. Winner of two New Mexico state championships, Peperas also was a two-time state runner-up.