Reader, Oliver, Burroughs headline deep field at Big 12 tournament


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Senior Jon Reader wrestles UNI’s Brice Wolf during the meet Friday, Feb. 4 at Hilton Coliseum. Reader won 17-1, while Iowa State beat Northern Iowa 21-20.

Darrin Cline

Forty-eight national team champions. More than 200 individual national champions. In the annals of college wrestling, no conference boasts the grandeur and gold of the Big 12. 

However, to reach the national platform, the stars of wrestling’s top league must battle through the conference tournament. For what may be the last time, the Big 12’s five wrestling programs will duke it out for the conference title.

Weight by weight breakdown:

125 — The top guy for the Missouri Tigers, Alan Waters, is the odds-on favorite in a group of all freshmen and sophomores. Iowa State’s Brandon Jones will need to be on his A-game if he hopes to advance.

ISU Wrestler: Brandon Jones

Favorite: Alan Waters, Missouri

133 — Perhaps the most dominating wrestler in the whole field, Jordan Oliver. The OSU star has cruised to a 22-0 record and a No. 1 ranking. Cyclone coach Kevin Jackson identifies Ben Cash as one of the biggest underdog dangers in the field.

ISU Wrestler: Ben Cash

Favorite to win: Jordan Oliver, Oklahoma State

141 — One of the most wide-open weights. Four wrestlers come in with one-loss records, and all but Nebraska’s Mike Koehlein are ranked. Potentially the third bout in the rivalry between former teammates Chris Drouin and Todd Schavrien, who are 1-1 against each other this year.

ISU wrestler: Chris Drouin

Favorite: Zach Bailey, Oklahoma

149 — The most unsure weight for the Cyclones. Senior Nate Carr Jr. and redshirt sophomore Max Mayfield are both competing for the spot. Three wrestlers are winless against ranked opponents which opens the door to every grappler.

ISU Wrestler: Nate Carr Jr. or Max Mayfield

Favorite: Jamal Parks, Oklahoma State

157 — No wrestler at 157 pounds has competed in more than 30 matches. Another weight lacking a clear-cut favorite makes Trent Weatherman’s chances all the more intriguing. Will the fans see the lackluster Weatherman of December or the indominable Weatherman of late January?

ISU wrestler: Trent Weatherman

Favorite: Neil Erisman, Oklahoma State

165 — Saturday’s deepest bracket. The longtime Cornhusker Jordan Burroughs, Division I’s top 165-pounder will have to overcome Andrew Sorenson, Tyler Caldwell, and Dallas Bailey, who have combined for only 14 losses this year.

ISU wrestler: Andrew Sorenson

Favorite: Jordan Burroughs, Nebraska

174 — Boasts Iowa State’s only top-ranked wrestler in Jon Reader. Reader finished the regular season unbeaten and is the third top-ranked wrestler in the tournament. Mike Benefiel of Oklahoma State poses the biggest threat to Reader, who is still searching for his first Big 12 title. 

ISU wrestler: Jon Reader

Favorite: Jon Reader, Iowa State

184 — Chris Perry of Oklahoma State and Josh Ihnen of Nebraska stand tall at 184. Cole Shafer is the only man not ranked but has the potential to surprise his peers.

ISU wrestler: Cole Shafer

Favorite: Chris Perry, Oklahoma State

197 — Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State joins Oliver, Reader, and Burroughs as the only unbeatens in the Big 12. Foster has taken down nine ranked opponents this year and will need to top three more for a Big 12 title.

ISU wrestler: Jerome Ward

Favorite: Clayton Foster, Oklahoma State

HWT — The only weight where every wrestler comes in with single-digit losses. Dom Bradley and Nathan Fernandez lead a field of wrestlers with a wide variety of styles and strengths.

ISU wrestler: Kyle Simonson

Favorite: Dom Bradley, Missouri