This year is different.
It’s not wishful thinking, a slogan, an expectation, nor even a conclusion based upon investigation. For the 2013-14 Oklahoma wrestling season, it’s a fact.
It doesn’t assure success, yet it could well shorten the odds of attaining more of it.
A lot more of it.
“If they wrestle the way they’re capable and they really believe in themselves, we can have four or five guys in the finals,” third-year Sooner wrestling coach Mark Cody said, before quickly re-evaluating.
“We could have six. There are six guys in that room right now that I know are good enough to make the NCAA finals, let alone the guys that we’re still developing.”
It’s different because the Sooners really do have six All-Americans ready to take the mat this season. It’s also different because of who they are. It’s also different because the program understands it’s been pointing to this season.
It has loaded up.
There’s Kendric Maple, the reigning 141-pound national champion, the Sooners’ first since Teyon Ware, at the same weight, in 2005, who’s making the move to 149 this season.
There’s Cody Brewer at 133 pounds, who went 25-8 a year ago, who finished second at the Big 12 tournament and 4-2 at the NCAA meet and earned All-American status by securing a major decision over Penn State’s Jordan Conoway.
There’s Nick Lester, who’s moved up to 141 pounds, who earned All-American status with a 3-3 run during his sophomore year at the 2012 NCAA meet.
There’s Jarrod Patterson, who’s been to three NCAA meets and who, in 2011, placed seventh to earn All-America honors. He’s back after redshirting last season.
That’s a pretty good starting point. A solid foundation. Yet it’s only a starting point, because the Sooners claim a couple other guys with All-American resumes, too.