Oklahoma junior Cody Brewer freely admits that he’s terrible at baseball.
“Wrestling’s the only thing I’m good at,” he joked.
But some baseball-related advice from Sooners assistant coach Michael Lightner helped Brewer win the 133-pound championship during the NCAA Division I wrestling national tournament Saturday at the Scottrade Center.
“He gives the analogy as like baseball,” Brewer said. “If you’re a pitcher, you’re not just going to throw a fastball every time. You’re going to change them up and throw a curveball and other pitches, so that’s what I try to relate wrestling to is throwing different pitches at everybody.”
Brewer, who won four Missouri state wrestling titles at Oak Park and was The Star’s 2011 All-Metro wrestler of the year, put on a clinic by mixing up his shots in a thoroughly dominating performance despite entering the tourney as the No. 13 seed.
Brewer, 22-1, opened with a second-period pin against Northwestern’s Dominick Malone before racking up major decisions against Ohio State’s Johnni DiJulius, Virginia’s George DiCamillo and Minnesota’s Christopher Dardanes en route to the final.
DiJulius was the fourth seed, DiCamillo was seeded 12th and Dardanes entered as the top seed.
Brewer finished his title run with an 11-8 win against third-seeded Cory Clark of Iowa. He scored five consecutive takedowns at the start of the championship bout.
Encouragement from Oklahoma’s coaches helped fuel Brewer along with the motivation to prove he was better than the 13th seed.
“I thought, ‘Well, you’ve got to win five,’ ” Brewer said. “… Like (Oklahoma) coach (Mark) Cody talks about all season, the only seed that matters is after the NCAA Tournament. … Now, I can say I was top one in the country.”
The championship matches at the NCAA tourney are contested on an elevated platform. Brewer had long dreamed of getting his moment on that stage and made the most of the opportunity.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been watching the NCAAs,” Brewer said. “I told coach Cody actually right before I stepped out there that I had been dreaming about this since I was a little kid. I was watching these guys and I said to myself then that I was going to be on that stage to try to prove something, and I finally got on that stage.”
Brewer, who missed most of January and a few weeks in February because of an undisclosed injury, said it was even more special to win the championship on Missouri soil.
“It was great,” Brewer said. “A lot of my family came down — brothers, my mother — everybody was down here for the big tournament, so it was great to have family here.”
Brewer probably won’t draw such a low seed again if he returns to the national tournament next year as a reigning champion, but he wants to wrestle with the same mindset.
“If I’m back to No. 1, I need to have that same mentality going into every match that I have something to prove,” Brewer said. “… I’ve got a whole other year of this, and hopefully it turns out as good. That’s the goal now is to get back.”