STILLWATER — Oklahoma State University wrestling coach John Smith seems a little puzzled by the preseason Division I college wrestling rankings.
The Cowboys are tied with the University of Oklahoma for fourth in the Intermat rankings with 70.5 points. Two-time national champion Penn State is No. 1 with 100.5 points. Iowa and Minnesota are second and third, respectively.
OSU national champion Jordan Oliver and third-place finisher Alan Gelogaev completed their eligibility after the 2013 NCAA Championships. But five All-Americans, including national champ Chris Perry, return from the team that came within four points of dethroning Penn State in Des Moines, Iowa, in March.
“I feel like we have a stronger team, but we came out ranked fifth or sixth in the country in a lot of rankings. It just kind of tells you there are some teams that have kind of stepped up. Oklahoma is one of those. They are going to be a great team this year. There should be some great Bedlam dual meets,” Smith said.
In the past, OSU has earned a No. 1 or No. 2 preseason ranking when it returned five All-Americans, Smith said.
“For us, it’s going to be about developing some new faces that haven’t done a whole lot to this point,” Smith said.
The Pokes must replace Oliver at 149 pounds. Oliver sported a 37-0 record. He often earned extra team points with major decisions, technical falls or pins. He was also a team leader with a tremendous workout ethic.
“It’s not a matter of how do you replace it. It’s a matter of how hard our staff is going to work to develop somebody that is that dominating. Those type of points are points that you really have got to have. What made Jordan strong and successful for us was his capability of pinning people. We have to make sure through the season we have more falls,” Smith said.