Boise State senior Jason Chamberlain knows exactly what he's up against Saturday night in the NCAA championship final at 149 pounds (6 p.m., ESPN).
He has been friends with his opponent - Oklahoma State's freight train of a wrestler, senior Jordan Oliver - since high school because they often worked out at the same training camps.
And Chamberlain's former Boise State teammate, Andrew Hochstrasser, lost to Oliver in the 2011 NCAA final at 133 pounds.
"I think it will be a really good match," Chamberlain said. "Better than I think people expect."
Oliver is 36-0 this season and the No. 1 seed. He finished second at 133 last year and moved up two weight classes this year. His four wins this week have come by 10, 10, eight and 11 points.
Chamberlain is 30-1 and the No. 2 seed. He finished third at 149 in 2011 and redshirted last season. He has won this week by 14, nine, one and four points.
His close match was in the quarterfinals against Oregon State's Scott Sakaguchi. It was their ninth college duel, and most have been nail-biters.
It was 1-1 going to overtime and Sakaguchi got one of Chamberlain's legs in the air in the sudden-victory session, but Chamberlain was able to avoid the takedown. He won the tiebreaker by not allowing Sakaguchi to escape in the second portion of overtime.
Chamberlain is 8-1 against Sakaguchi in college and 3-1 this season.
"That was a tough match for Jason," Boise State coach Greg Randall said. "It's tough to keep beating the same guy that's your caliber."
Chamberlain never was in trouble en route to a 7-3 win in the semifinal against Drake Houdashelt of Missouri. He recorded a takedown in the first period and two more in the third.
"My game plan was to go out and get an early lead and make him open up and wrestle me, and that gave me opportunities to score," Chamberlain said.
He'll need another effective game plan against Oliver. The two rarely have been in the same weight class, so they have little history competing against each other.
A couple of years ago, in a freestyle match at the junior world team trials, Chamberlain beat Oliver in a tiebreaker. Even then, Oliver recorded the only takedown.
"He's a powerful wrestler," Randall said. " He's so quick. He gets his speed going, hits you hard and hits you with both arms and both legs."
Chamberlain will be driven by the knowledge that this is his last chance to achieve a nearly lifelong dream.
He even waited an extra year with last year's redshirt.
"Growing up, I wanted to be a national champ in college," he said.
The other three Broncos who made it to Friday - senior George Ivanov (157 pounds), junior Jake Swartz (184) and junior J.T. Felix (heavyweight) - were eliminated. Each fell one win short of clinching All-American status and a top-eight finish.
The No. 24 Broncos will take on an unusually deep field at the WAC Championships on Saturday in Cedar City, Utah. No. 13 Denver is the favorite, with No. 34 Southern Utah, No. 39 Sacramento State, No. 43 San Jose State and No. 53 Utah State rounding out the field.
Denver and San Jose State have beaten Boise State this season. The Broncos made their worst showing of the season when they competed in Denver.
"Our last two meets, we were so close to seeing what we need to be," said co-coach Neil Resnick, whose team scored a season-high 196.575 on March 1 in its home finale. "The scores don't reflect how close we were. We were missing one routine each meet to be well into the 196s. The kids are mentally in a great place, they're fired up, they want another shot at Denver."
The Broncos won the WAC in 2008, 2009 and 2011. They were out of the conference in 2012.
Next year, Boise State and a group of Western schools likely will form their own gymnastics conference.
The Broncos would like to complete their dominant run with one last WAC title.
"Once you get a win over a No. 13 team, you legitimize who you are," Resnick said. "It's very important that we get in here and perform well and compete with Denver and win a championship."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat