By Chuck Reherman
STILLWATER – For as long as he could remember, Boo Lewallen has followed the Big 12 Wrestling Champions with his mind set on a chance to compete in the event.
He gets his chance this weekend.
Lewallen, a redshirt sophomore from Yukon, will wrestle for Oklahoma State University in the Big 12 Championships at the BOK Center in Tulsa beginning today. The tournament runs through Sunday.
Lewallen takes a No. 14 ranking into the tournament and a 23-5 overall record since taking over as the starter at 149-pounds.
Lewallen has a first round bye and will face the winner of Matthew Ontiveros of Utah Valley University and Kyle Gliva of North Dakota State University in the quarterfinals. UVU and NDSU are affiliate members of the Big 12 wrestling along with six other universities. Only Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State and West Virginia wrestle in the Big 12. Max Thomsen of the University of Northern Iowa is the No. 1 seed in the bracket.
Lewallen came into this season looking to become the starter at 149-pounds and although he beat teammate George Martinez twice early in the season, the two shared the role. When Martinez suffered an injury, the Yukon graduate stepped in fulltime and set his sights on a strong finish and a shot at reaching the NCAA Championships.
And, although, he is excited about his chances, he knows he has to keep his emotions in check to reach his goal.
“It’s exciting, something that I’ve been following since I can remember and I have had this on my mind all year,” Lewallen said. “And, I’m ready to go out and compete hard.
“I don’t think it makes any difference on the emotions going into this tournament,” he said. “All slates are clean and it’s post season anything is able to happen. I know what I’m capable of and am ready to compete at a high level no matter who I’m wrestling against.
“I’m extremely focused on achieving my goals and this is something I’ve waited a long time for.”
Lewallen goes into the tournament having won last three matches and is 6-2 in his last eight. He owns a 12-4 major decision over Kyler Rea of West Virginia, a 13-4 major decision over Davion Jeffies of Oklahoma and a 9-4 win over Khristian Olivas of Fresno State in his last match.
His only losses in the run came to No. 8 ranked Thomsen and No. 3 ranked Grant Leith of Missouri. Of his five losses, four came to top 20 ranked wrestlers. He does own an 11-9 win over No. 18 ranked Jarrett Degan of Iowa State.
The win over Rea was his first dual win of the season. He also finished third at the Reno Tournament of Champions, going 4-1 and beating Campbell’s Josh Jeil 12-8 in the consolation finals.
He also took championships at the OCU Open, Lindenwood Open and the Bob Smith open, wrestling unattached.
Of those 23 wins, Lewallen said he still does not have what he considers a signature victory. Yet.
“My season has been okay,” Lewallen said. “I’ve took some losses and I have continued to learn from those losses to make sure I’m better next time I go out and compete. But, I’m ready to go and can’t wait to get out there!
“I just need to go out and be ready every match to go as hard as I can for seven minutes and also to just have fun,” he said. “When I wrestle to have fun I always wrestle my best!”
As a reshirt freshman, Lewallen finished with an 11-2 record. He won the Reno Tournament of Champions that year, pulling off impressive wins over No. 9 ranked Bryce Meredith and No. 15 Javier Gasca of Michigan State in his first collegiate event.
Lewallen is 34-7 in his career with the Cowboys.
By Chuck Reherman