By JASON ELMQUIST
As Jordan Oliver walked off the raised mat at Wells Fargo Arena wearing an Oklahoma State singlet for the last time, he saw a young Iowa Hawkeyes fan and Oliver tossed the orange headgear he had worn in the match to win his second national championship.
After Oliver was ushered around to do multiple media interviews and receive his 2013 NCAA national championship plaque, the young fan finally got an opportunity to ask the OSU wrestler to autograph the youngster's new prized possession.
The moment was reminiscent to Oliver of his days back in Easton, Pa., when Coleman Scott — who later became an OSU wrestler, Olympic bronze medalist and had Oliver has a training partner — gave a young Oliver a pair of wrestling shoes after winning a high school state championship. It's a prize Oliver, a 22-year-old college senior, still possesses to this day and seldom allows anybody to touch.
"I always give out stuff to kids because years ago I was that little kid asking for gear and autographs," Oliver said. "It just reminded me of a younger me being out there. Those little kids really look up to me, and I love all that support and all my fans.
"Why not make that little kid's day? He's going to cherish that headgear for some time."
There was reason for the young Iowa fan to cherish the headgear. It's the same reason every wrestling fan in the arena in Des Moines, Iowa, was envious of the kid — it is a piece of history tied directly to one of the greatest wrestlers from one of the top two greatest college wrestling programs in the world.
"I'm just glad to be a part of that tradition and success," Oliver said. "It's definitely an awesome accomplishment and honor for me to join the list of great wrestlers such as John Smith, Kenny Monday, Pat Smith and guys like that."
Oliver won his second NCAA national championship, and was a whisper away from it being his third consecutive had an egregious no-call by the referee in the closing seconds of the championship match resulted in Oliver's bio to read runner-up in 2012.
"He was an eyelash away from being a three-time national champion, and of course a four-time All-American. He's one of our greats — there's no question," OSU coach John Smith said. "We'll miss him. We'll miss watching him in Gallagher and just hope that over the next few years we can build another Jordan Oliver."
With his mastery at the Division I Wrestling Championships, Oliver finished his career in Stillwater with a 131-6 record and two undefeated seasons. His 95.6 percent win percentage lands him in the top 10 in program history, which moved him past John Smith's 94.4 win percentage — though will finish second to Smith's 152 career wins. Oliver's 41-0 season moves him atop the list of perfect seasons, besting the 23-0 records from Eric Guerrero and Mark Smith in 1999.
"(It means) bragging rights. I can go to Coach Smith and pull out some stats and tell him I am ahead of him in some," Oliver said. "It speaks for itself. But Coach Smith is the reason I'm the wrestler I am today."
"He should (brag). He had a better career than I did in college, no question about that," Smith said. "He was much more dominating. And what's impressive is he jumped up two weights and won (his second) national championship. That's a class performance when you see things like that happen."
There is no doubt Oliver will be mentioned in the same breathe as all the other OSU wrestling greats. He has been the most electric four-year, student-athlete on the Stillwater campus since arriving as a three-time high school state champion in his native Pennsylvania, and a Fargo junior freestyle national champion.
Having won multiple championships at the prep and college level over the past 10 years, Oliver will try to continue to cultivate his championship pedigree at the international level. His college wrestling career ended on Saturday, but there was little time for rest and reflection. Oliver will be back on the mat in Gallagher-Iba Arena one more time this summer for the U.S. World Team Trials in June.
"Trials are in Stillwater, so there's a shot I can compete. I get to wrestle in the arena in my home to make the World Team, and it's the ultimate goal for me to win the World Championship, to win an Olympic gold medal," Oliver said. "And I'm with the right people, and I'm in the right environment. I believe this year I could make the team and win a world championship."
And effectively add to the argument of his place within the tradition-rich Cowboy wrestling program — and even more pride to a young Iowa Hawkeyes fan.