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John Smith Previews Sunday’s Dual vs. Iowa



STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith met with members of the media to preview this Sunday’s dual against Iowa. The highlights:

 

On the 125-pound match in Sunday’s dual:

“That is probably one of many that are going to be pretty tough. Matt McDonough is a returning national champion with a 12-1 record. He had a pretty solid performance last year as a freshman and it looks like he is backing it up again this year. It will be a tall order for Jon Morrison, but anytime you get the opportunity to wrestle the defending champion you need to really embrace it and be excited about the opportunity to wrestle somebody that is considered the best at the weight.”

 

On the youth of both teams:

“There will be a lot of new faces in this dual. That is different from last year. We have five, possibly six freshmen starting for us on Sunday and they have several guys that have not wrestled in an Oklahoma State-Iowa dual meet. For that reason I think that it is going to be very competitive.”

 

On Jordan Oliver:

“I think just being in the program, competing a full year, and just understanding the battles and the challenges of making weight every week from the time that November starts until March has helped. I think the thing that helped him over the top was him taking a little bit more control and giving him the choice of moving up to the 141-pound division this summer and him choosing to stay down. I think when he made that choice, he took on the responsibility that he was going to do some things differently and really control his diet, and that is what’s made the difference.

 

“I think technically he has improved in what he does offensively, both on his feet and on the mat. He is what we are looking for and he is what we teach. He really bought into what we are trying to get across to this group right now. He has a lot of success, his best defense is his offense, and in a lot of ways you see that.”

 

On if Jordan Oliver is wrestling at his best right now:

“He will have to be better. I think he will have to get better from this point forward to win a NCAA championship. It is a great weight class with several guys that can really challenge for a title, and probably some new people that may pop in here late. He can get better. I am sure we will see him get better with every year.”

 

On the history of Oklahoma State and Iowa:

“It’s personal. We have been behind them the last several years. In most years to get to the top, it’s likely you have to go through Iowa. I think that this dual is important from that standpoint. They have won the last three years and for us to move toward our ultimate goal at the end of the season, this dual meet becomes a little more significant. We know that they are ranked 10th, but I don’t think we look at rankings right now. I don’t think they have anything to do with the outcome at the end of the season.”

 

On if ending Iowa’s current 69-match winning streak in duals is a motivator:

“I think it is about performance and performing in duals and how you want to perform coming off a very tough tournament that I felt like we wrestled pretty well in. We had some disappointment with the losses, but I felt like overall it was a pretty good effort by our squad. I am just looking for an improved performance from the National Duals tournament. We want to win. We want to win every dual meet.”

 

On his experiences with long winning streaks and the added pressure that comes with them:

“I think the difference was that during those years, we didn’t win a championship and they did. Those were not some of my better teams, we won some dual meets during that streak that I don’t know how we won them. We won some Iowa meets where after we won they were still favored by 70 points over us going into nationals. The difference was that I didn’t really have the teams that should have been running off that many victories in a row. We would always find a win somewhere. Something would go crazy in a dual meet because we would make something go crazy in a dual meet, so it’s really a credit to those individuals and those teams to me.”

 

On Neil Erisman’s health:

“This is an incredible guy as far as conditioning goes and he has been on the mat for about two or three weeks. Unlike most people, he can pop back on. What he did while he was injured allowed him to come back on at a pretty high level percentage-wise. He was about 85 percent of what he is capable of getting to. He did a lot of work while he was off the mat, and it wasn’t any easier than what we were doing on the mat. When he got back on, it came back quickly and a lot of that was due to the preliminary work he did while he was injured. I don’t think he is perfect by any means, but he is ready to wrestle hard. He had a chance to wrestle a few matches at the National Duals and for the most part he looked good other than a little bit of a scramble in the Missouri match that caught him on his back. He has a little fire in his eyes right now because that is the last thing he remembers.”

 

On Alan Gelogaev’s health:

“He is doing well. I don’t expect him back anytime soon and when I say soon I mean the next week or two weeks. He has done well and we will stay on the cautious side with him as long as we have to. I don’t know if he will see any of the regular season, everything points to that. He will be back wrestling.”

Updated 01-13-2011

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