I'm not quite sure what to make of Oklahoma State's wrestling team this year. The most decorated program in wrestling history enters the 2014-2015 season with more questions than answers.
I look at their roster and wonder to myself...
- How will defending national champ Alex Dieringer do up a weight at 165?
- What about super recruit Chance Marsteller, will he be comfortable at 157 and is he ready for the grind of a Division I season?
- Eddie Klimara narrowly missed placing last year at 125, but then he got into, and out of, legal trouble, and his status going forward remains up in the air. Will he be back and in the lineup?
- Will major talents like Dean Heil at 133 and Jordan Rogers at 184 make good on their potential and blossom into the All American caliber wrestlers after inconsistent results last year?
- Will Anthony Collica be back at 141? Will he red shirt? Shouldn't he red shirt?
- Josh Kindig had a heck of an NCAA tournament last year, placing second, but should we expect a repeat performance in light of his erratic past?
- Austin Marsden is a very good heavyweight (and holy smokes he's gotten massive, I had no idea until standing next to him this past March). But with so many of the nation's top big men back, can we realistically expect him to improve much on his 8th place finish in 2014?
Okay, I will confess, I don't really wonder about Dieringer. I think that he's the real deal and will have little trouble dispatching all comers this year at 165, including Virginia's stalwart Nick Sulzer, and Ohio State's scary talented Bo Jordan.
The rest of the questions are legitimate, and I would have ranked OSU lower if not for one major advantage on their side: raw talent.
While this team may very well go belly up come March, they have a strong core of wrestlers with the God given abilities to suddenly put it together and make a big run at the national tournament. I would only find it moderately surprising if OSU has a team national title near miss for a third straight year.
The real wildcard here is Marsteller, who is a super duper duper recruit. In his prep career, he won four Pennsylvania state championships (big school division), and I'm fairly certain never lost a match (feel free to correct me). Without a doubt, Marsteller has the talent to win NCAA titles in the future, and maybe even the present. However, he does not come to Oklahoma State free of concern.
First of the concerns is his weight. Not long ago, I heard many wrestling people question whether or not he could even safely make 165 pounds in college. Now, low and behold, he is listed at 157 on the Cowboy roster, where he will likely fill a crucial hole in the OSU lineup. If 157 is a good weight for Marsteller, then so be it, but I will be the first to point out that big weight cuts have come back to bite Oklahoma State in the past, particularly late in the season.
The second concern is Marsteller's absence from the spring and summer wrestling scene near the end of his prep career. If he needed a break, and to be a normal kid for a while, that is more than understandable , but it hopefully is not a harbinger of burn out, which is an ever present threat, and something that has claimed many a highly decorated high school athlete upon the switch to college wrestling.
Here is a tentative Oklahoma State lineup:
125- Austin Miller (Jr), or maybe Eddie Klimara (Jr) (is not yet back on the official roster)
133- Brian Crutchmer (So) or Dean Heil (Fr)
141- Anthony Collica (So)
149- Josh Kindig (Sr)
157- Chance Marsteller (Fr)
165- Alex Dieringer (Jr)
174- Kyle Crutchmer (So)
184- Jordan Rogers (So) or Nolan Boyd (So)
197- Austin Schafer (So)
285- Austin Marsden (Jr)
I believe Dieringer is an automatic 23 points at nationals, while Kindig and Marsden together should double that total. If Marsteller is still healthy and operational at the end of the year, he and Collica should make serious noise in March, and I'd conservatively predict 15 points from those two. The remainder of the Cowboy lineup ought to push the team total to well over 60 points.