The Oklahoma State Cowboys left little doubt that they are the best team in the country heading into the NCAA Championships on March 17-19 in St. Louis.
The No. 1 Cowboys won a record seven individual championships, including three against Missouri wrestlers, to win the 2005 Big 12 Conference Championship. It is their 39th conference title.
Missouri finished fifth with 35 points. Oklahoma State had 95 1/2 and Iowa State was second with 49.
“They’re wrestling really well,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “This is the best I’ve ever seen them. They seem to definitely be peaking at the right time, and they’re proving why they are number one.”
Smith said his wrestlers lost momentum after reaching the finals.
“All three that made the finals wrestled flat,” Smith said. “They each had good semis and just came out flat in their final matches. It wasn’t that bad of a tournament for us, but it was not what we wanted to do.”
In the most anticipated match of the evening, Oklahoma State’s Chris Pendleton defeated Missouri’s Ben Askren 12-8 to claim the 174-pound title that Askren denied him last year. The rematch was made possible when Askren beat Oklahoma’s E.K. Waldhaus 5-1 in the semifinals.
This was the third time Askren, ranked No. 2 in the division, and Pendleton, No. 1, wrestled this season and the seventh time in the past two years. Last season was the only time Askren beat Pendleton.
“Ben gave up a few early takedowns,” Smith said. “He was able to score two takedowns near the end, but when you give up early points like that, it’s hard to come back and win.”
Pendleton defeated Askren 4-3 behind 3:02 of riding time when the two met in Stillwater, Okla., on Feb. 4. With that in mind, Askren (30-2) took a different approach on Saturday.
“Pendleton scored early, so it made Ben go more aggressive,” Smith said. “(Ben) got out a lot when he was underneath. He was trying new things. You can’t fault a kid for that.”
Top-seeded Tyron Woodley fell to Oklahoma State’s Johny Hendricks 4-1 in the 165-pound final. Woodley is ranked No. 4 in the country and Hendricks is No. 3.
Senior Brad Cieleski lost to Oklahoma State’s Kevin Ward 6-4 in the 157 pound final.
Cieleski (23-8) beat tenth-ranked B.J. Wright of Nebraska 9-7 to advance to the championship.
“We’ll get lifting and continue doing intense training (for the NCAA Championships),” Smith said. “I think we’re fine physically, we’ve just got to stay mentally focused. We all know each other really well here and so many kids are nationally ranked. When we get to nationals, we’ll get to wrestle some fresh competition for at least the first day.”
Cody Greene placed third at 149 pounds. Matt Pell (184) and Jeff Foust (197) finished in fourth.