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Original Issue

State takes Oklahoma down a few pegs

Amateur wrestling is a grunt-filled argument over whether to stay on the mat or keep jumping up

The goal in wrestling," announced Oklahoma's Coach Port Robertson firmly, "is to pin your man. It's not just to get a takedown [which consists of toppling a man to the mat from a standing position] and then let your man loose so you can try for another one. I really don't see any purpose in buying wrestling mats if you're just going to stand on them."

Some 85 miles away, on the campus of rival Oklahoma State, Coach Myron Roderick was holding forth with equal firmness on his views of wrestling. "The takedown is an art," he was saying, "and we are famous for our takedowns. One of the reasons they put in the new rule [a wrestler's first takedown is worth two points, all subsequent takedowns now one point] was to cut us down. It's like that fiber-glass pole the kid used to vault 16 feet. Nobody objected until he suddenly got so good with it."

Last week, before a crowd of 7,500, these two sharply divergent philosophies about college wrestling (viz., whether it's better to pile up points by repeatedly tossing your opponent down to the mat and then standing up again or to attempt to win the match by pinning him to the mat) were put to a grunting test in Stillwater when Oklahoma met Oklahoma State for the 63rd time. Both schools are among the nation's best in wrestling. By winning 22 out of 31 NCAA team championships and by suffering only 15 losses in 42 years of dual meet competition, State has established itself as the paramount champion, but 10 of its 15 losses were at the hands of its archrival, the University of Oklahoma, itself a five-time NCAA winner. Each team, therefore, has reason to believe its philosophy is the correct one. "I'll have to admit," said Oklahoma's Robertson of his opponents, "that over the years, though they haven't gone for the pin as we have, they have scored a lot more falls."

Robertson's team went to the mat last week already the loser in a previous dual meet against State. "But," said State's Roderick, "this time we're weaker and they're stronger. Phil Kinyon, our 157-pound national champ, is out with a bad knee, and Mark McCracken, our 115-pounder, has the flu." The State coach nearly had another catastrophe on his hands three days before the match when his 130-pound sophomore, Wayne Simons, turned up looking weak and dispirited. "But," said the coach, "I found out he'd been trying to lose weight by sticking to a liquid diet," and the crisis was solved with a steak dinner.

In the end, the meet was won by State's biggest and smallest wrestlers: Jyo (Little Joe from Tokyo) Umezawa, a 115-pound, 5-foot-2-inch ukulele player from Japan, and 6-foot-3-inch Joseph (Big Joe from Chicago) James, a premed student and the first Negro ever to wrestle for Oklahoma State. Between the Joes and their teammates, Oklahoma State had little trouble beating its old rival 24-11, proving (perhaps) that taking down and jumping up is the best way to wrestle.