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Monday, January 17, 2011
Oklahoma State holds Iowa to a draw

By Mechelle Voepel
ESPN.com

The battle between heavyweight programs came down to the heavyweight match. And when it was all over, there wasn't much celebration on either side.

Oliver
Jordan Oliver's win Sunday came with a bit of frustration.

Iowa's dual-meet winning streak in wrestling ended at 69 on Sunday … even though the No. 10-ranked Hawkeyes didn't actually lose at No. 6 Oklahoma State.

"It's a tie," Cowboys coach John Smith said. "Nobody's happy."

The schools that have combined to win 57 NCAA team titles in the sport are both still in the process of figuring out things this season. That was evident in the 15-15 tie at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Smith evaluated his team's performance as "sloppy," with the Cowboys left ruing their lack of bonus points. But the Hawkeyes felt the same way, as coach Tom Brands called the attainment of bonus points a "cornerstone" of Iowa's program.

In duals, teams get six points for a fall, default or forfeit; five for a technical fall; four for a major decision; and three for a decision. Sunday, each team won five matches by decision.

The most disappointed winner was Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver, the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 133 pounds. He beat Iowa's Tyler Clark 11-4, but was visibly very irritated at not getting at least an 8-point differential for a major decision. That lone bonus point would have been enough for the Cowboys to win the meet.

Both coaches, of course, constantly stress the need to wrestle as Brands puts it, "with domination in mind." However, Sunday the Cowboys and Hawkeyes wrestled more like teams worried about making mistakes than teams confident they could put the hammer down.

Iowa, which has won the past three NCAA team titles, started off the meet with defending national champion Matt McDonough winning at 125 pounds. Then the teams alternated victories for the next seven matches. Oklahoma State's Oliver, Jamal Parks, Dallas Bailey and Chris Perry won at 133, 149, 165 and 184; Iowa's Mark Ballweg, Derek St. John and Ethen Lofthouse won at 141, 157 and 174.

At 197, Clayton Foster gave the Cowboys their first back-to-back wins, following Perry's victory. Then the heavyweight match was a battle of Blakes: Iowa's Blake Rasing versus Oklahoma State's Blake Rosholt. That match was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, and Rasing prevailed 3-1 in overtime.

And that was that: an unsatisfying result for both teams. Iowa, attempting to break Oklahoma State's record of consecutive dual-meet victories -- 76, set from 1937 to '51 -- still has an "unbeaten" streak, but not a winning streak.

The Cowboys should take some solace in protecting that long-ago accomplishment of their storied program, but Sunday they were still too peeved about not winning. Oklahoma State is the last program to beat Iowa in a dual meet; that was in January 2008.

Iowa's streak of 69 will remain tied for second-longest, with two different Oklahoma State streaks. And what both teams learned Sunday should help prepare them for the NCAA championships in March.

Oklahoma State's most recent NCAA team title was in 2006, when the Cowboys won the last of four consecutive championships. They next face No. 16 Iowa State on Saturday; Ames, Iowa, also will be the host site for the Big 12 championships on March 5. Two other Big 12 schools are in the top 10 along with the Cowboys in the latest USA Today/NWCA/Intermat poll: No. 7 Missouri, which defeated Oklahoma State at the National Duals on Jan. 9, and No. 9 Oklahoma.

Iowa has duals on Jan. 22 with Ohio State and Jan. 28 with No. 22 Northwestern. Then on Jan. 30, the Hawkeyes face another huge dual, as they travel to No. 2 Penn State. The undefeated Nittany Lions won the Virginia Duals title on Jan. 8.

Penn State is coached by Iowa State legend Cael Sanderson. He left his alma mater in the spring of 2009 with the belief that the Nittany Lions -- whose lone NCAA team title in wrestling came in 1953 -- could very quickly contend for national championships on a regular basis. Indeed, Penn State now appears to be in that position.

Iowa and Oklahoma State may not be in that top tier of favorites to win a team title this year, but they also can't be dismissed. Not with their respective histories. Both walked away from Sunday's showdown displeased, but maybe a little wiser.

Around the nation

• All tied up: Another top-10 team finished in a tie Sunday: No. 3 Wisconsin wrestled to a 19-19 draw with No. 15 Illinois. The Badgers gave up 12 points in two matches with a forfeit and an injury default. The latter was by Andrew Howe, the defending NCAA champion at 165 pounds, who had to leave his bout against Conrad Polz.

• Swimming gauge: Texas, the No. 1-ranked men's swimming and diving team, went into its dual meets Friday and Saturday knowing the competitions would be a good measuring stick for how the Longhorns could swim after intense training.

Texas lost the first dual, Friday at No. 6 Auburn, 125.5-117.5. Texas won last year's national championship, but Auburn had won six of the seven before that.

Saturday, Texas came back with a 135-106 victory at No. 11 Georgia. The Longhorns have two more dual meets before hosting the Big 12 championships Feb. 23-26.

Mechelle Voepel is a columnist for ESPN.com. She can be reached at mvoepel123@yahoo.com.

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