The series stretches across seven decades and the two schools have monopolized college wrestling to the point they need king-sized trophy cases to show off all of their national championship trophies.
Perhaps never before, though, have Iowa and Oklahoma State been closer to a stalemate – not even during the 31-year run when the Hawkeyes and Cowboys combined for 28 NCAA titles.
The past five duals in the series produced two wins for each side and a tie. The last 50 matches? It’s a 25-25 split. Iowa holds a slight 82-79 edge in dual points during that stretch.
Expect more of the same Friday night when the third-ranked Hawkeyes tangle with the No. 5 Cowboys inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“You’re talking about two of the most storied programs and the administrations at both schools have continued to keep it important,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “The budgets are probably the same, but more than that, it’s in the red dirt in Oklahoma and it’s in the black dirt in Iowa. Wrestling is in the dirt and you grow up like that and it becomes a big deal. My heroes were wrestlers. John Smith’s heroes were wrestlers.”
Based on W.I.N. Magazine rankings, Iowa is favored at five weights and Oklahoma State is favored at five, though the margin is slim on paper in six of those bouts. Even Tony Ramos and Derek St. John, the Iowa seniors who have never lost on their home mat or against their Oklahoma State opponents, aren’t automatics.
Although third-ranked Ramos is unbeaten against high school rival Jon Morrison, the Oklahoma State senior is 14-0 and ranked No. 1 at 133 pounds. And St. John, the defending NCAA champ at 157 pounds, puts his 19-0 record on the line against second-ranked sophomore Alex Dieringer, who took the Iowa star to overtime last year in the NCAA semifinals.
“The openings are going to be there,” St. John said. “I just need to let loose a little bit and I need to attack from the first whistle.”