Wyatt Sheets appears to peaking at the right time for Oklahoma State wrestling.
The 157-pound wrestler is heading into the postseason riding a six-match winning streak – with half of the wins coming against wrestlers ranked in the top 20.
“I think I’ve been doing fairly well. I’m not as good as I want, I guess,” Sheets said. “I’m just trying to get better every day, and not really worrying about the next competition. Just focus on that day.”
The redshirt sophomore was clearly focused his last time on the mat.
Sheets carded Oklahoma State’s biggest upset of the season when he knocked of Iowa’s Kaleb Young – who was ranked No. 5 at the time – by 9-4 decision in front of the hostile crowd in Iowa City, Iowa.
But it will have been nearly two weeks since that upset. And that’s what he’s taking to the mat in Tulsa for the Big 12 Conference Wrestling Championships.
“It really doesn’t matter. Really doesn’t matter,” Sheets said. “It’s good that I did get it done, but I can’t really dwell on that going into the next couple of tournaments.”
Sheets had lost his previous five matches against ranked wrestlers this season – with his one other loss on the year coming to an unranked wrestler in Oklahoma State’s only dual loss in the Big 12 Conference.
“I think with Wyatt, he’s got to be prepared,” OSU wrestling coach John Smith said. “I think he’s gonna win against maybe a guy ranked 17th or 18th in the country by two or three points, and is liable to beat a top-five guy by two or three points.
“So he’s still trying to find where his points are coming from, but the attitude is there in the match. And that’s the thing, we’re not seeing him give up easy points and get rattled early.”
Two of his losses to ranked wrestlers were in fact decided by two points or less – a 3-2 decision against No. 9-ranked Quincy Monday of Princeton, and a 5-3 decision by Oklahoma’s Justin Thomas, who was ranked 17th and will be the fourth seed in the conference tournament.
Sheets got revenge on Thomas in the Bedlam dual prior to Iowa – an 8-3 decision – to help him land the No. 3 seed at 157 pounds.
Sheets was a top-4 seed heading into last year’s conference tournament, too, but in a much weaker field.
Last year, there was only one allocation given to the Big 12 at 157 pounds. So when Sheets finished fourth, he ended up being the only Cowboy in the starting lineup not to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2019.
That has been a driving force for the Stilwell native heading into this year’s league tournament – where the top-five finishers will earn qualifying bids into the national field.
“I think that was my biggest driving factor this year, is just last year, I didn’t even get to go to nationals and it ended at the Big 12,” Sheets said. “I kind of just had that in the back of my mind all year long. And now it’s here, so I’m pretty excited.”
Big 12 Wrestling Championships Schedule
Session I: Preliminary and quarterfinal matches, 11 a.m. (ESPN+)
Session II: Semifinal and consolations matches, 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
Session III: Consolation semifinals, medal matches, 11 a.m. (ESPN+)
Session IV: Finals, 6 p.m. (Fox Regional Networks)