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Cowboys place five in semifinals, move closer to winning fourth straight NCAA title



OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma State senior Jake Rosholt already owns a pair of gold medals from the NCAA Championships.

But that apparently carried little weight with the seeding committee for this year's national meet. When the brackets were released late Monday afternoon, Rosholt drew just a No. 4 seed at 197 pounds after finishing second to Nebraska's B.J. Padden in the Big 12 tournament.

That was fine with Rosholt. This is his time of year, the time when he peaks at the most important juncture of the season. No matter which side of the bracket he lands on.

Rosholt moved within two wins of his third national title with a methodical 4-0 quarterfinal win over No. 5 seed Joel Flaggert of Oklahoma on Friday morning before 15,746 fans at the Ford Center. Rosholt sparked the No. 2 Cowboys as they took a gigantic step toward winning their fourth straight national title.

Rosholt will be joined in the semifinals by fellow national champions Zack Esposito (149), and Johny Hendricks (165), along with two-time NCAA champion Steve Mocco (heavyweight) and sophomore Nathan Morgan (133).

The Cowboys have piled up 76 points, 28.5 more than second-place and 11th-ranked Iowa. The surprising Hawkeyes have three competitors in the semis. Sixth-ranked Oklahoma is third with 47 points and three in the semis. OSU's two regular-season dual-meet losses to top-ranked Minnesota are ancient history now.

"Who cares what you do in duals?" Rosholt said. "This is the tournament that really counts and this is what we work for, to be at our peak at nationals. This whole team has really had a fire lit under them the last couple days. We've really fed off each other. Winning really is contagious with this team."

Minnesota is in fourth place with 44.5 points and three wrestlers in the semifinals. Top seeds Dustin Schlatter (149) and Cole Konrad (heavyweight) remain on course to earn their first NCAA crowns. Roger Kish (184) also is in the semis for the Gophers.

The two biggest shockers in the quarterfinals came at 157 pounds and 197. Iowa State's top-seeded Trent Paulson fell 6-3 to No. 9 Joe Johnston of Iowa at 157 while No. 2 seed Kyle Cerminara of Buffalo tumbled 3-1 to No. 7 Jerry Rinaldi of Cornell at 197.

Rosholt won't have an opportunity to avenge any of his four losses from this season. The No. 3 Padden fell 6-5 to No. 6 Phil Davis of Penn State in the quarters. Top seed Wynn Michalak of Central Michigan was upset 10-7 by Hofstra's Chris Weidman in Thursday night's second round.

Rosholt lost all three matches with Padden this year and also had lost once to Michalak this season. Rosholt is now 25-4 this season.

"I'm feeling real confident right now," Rosholt said. "I just need to stick to my game plan and keep my focus."

Rosholt admits wrestling in Oklahoma is nice, but said it's no different than when the tournament was in St. Louis the past two years.

"It really doesn't matter if we're wrestling here or in Spokane, Washington - our fans are so great that they will follow us wherever we go," Rosholt said. "No matter where we go, you can look up in the stands and see a lot of orange. We definitely feed off the crowd. The support they give us is awesome. We love it."
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