High school wrestling notebook: Fort Gibson still battling

Fort Gibson is still struggling with multiple key injuries

It wasn’t exactly the result we wanted, but given the circumstances, Fort Gibson’s fifth-place finish in last weekend’s Maverick Conference Tournament at Henryetta was quite an achievement.

Injuries plagued the Tigers, with several key wrestlers absent from various spots in the roster throughout the season, but those participating in Henryetta put on strong performances.

“Right now we’re struggling a bit with injuries,” said Fort Gibson coach Sammy Johnson. “In the conference tournament, we only took seven or eight kids, two of whom were substitutes who were extras who didn’t get us points. We’re kind of done. I don’t know if it’s going to happen through the dual state or not, but hopefully we can make everyone healthy through Regionals, and if we do that, we have a chance of being okay.

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Newcomer Trenton Bell enjoyed a strong weekend, winning the 120-pound weight class at Henryetta and pinning both of his opponents, with his win in the final over Tahlequah Sequoyah’s Eric Walters coming just 12 seconds from the end. It was the second straight weekend that Bell has excelled after finishing second in the Paul Post tournament in Sallisaw the week before. Johnson was pleased with how Bell Coweta’s Colby defeated Eighenger 12-9 in the quarterfinals of that game after Eighenger had pinned him in a January 3 doubles match a few weeks earlier.

“Trenton Bell has been great, improving and winning big matches,” Johnson said. “Just a newbie doing some really nice things for us. Pretty proud of everything he’s done this year.”

Other Tigers who placed at the Maverick Conference included Colt Horlick, who finished second at 106 pounds, David Farmer (third at 106), Rylan Purdom (third at 138), and Dakota O’Dell (fourth at 157).

Among the guys missing from the lineup last weekend is an impressive group responsible for a single state championship (Blade Walden last year at 113, now Wrestling at 120), and several other former state picks and qualifiers (Jaiden Johnson at 144 , Cole Mahaney at 150, Kyle Rye at 190, and Andrew Sparks at 215), not to mention Kaydan Hunt at 175.

Mahaney, the starting quarterback for the Tigers football team, was injured during football season and has rarely fought. He may be back in time for the February 17-18 4A East Regional tournament, which qualifies the wrestlers for the following weekend’s state tournament. Hunt may not return this season either, but Johnson expects the others to be back in time for the Regionals.

Wrestlers who have risen through the ranks and performed strongly in difficult circumstances include Bell at 120 pounds, David Undaunted at 132, Purdom at 144, O’Dell at 157 and heavyweight Stevie Vafeas.

The Tigers, who finished sixth in last year’s Class 4A states tournament, are currently ranked 10th in 4A, are 7-2 in doubles and have already qualified for the February 10-11 doubles states tournament in Enid, which is good for the speaks to the team’s resilience in the face of season-long adversity.

“The kids wrestle really hard and really well, so happy and excited for the next few years because they’re all young guys,” Johnson said. “At the moment, we pretty much start with every dual course of study with three or four freshmen and three or four students in the second year. It’s been a tough year but I think the kids have wrestled really well and we still have high hopes these guys can come back.

“I still think we can put five, six, seven guys in the state tournament, get fourth or fifth place. I’ve never had two finalists in the same year and at one point I thought we could have three, but I still think we can get a few finalists in the same year and see what happens.”

Class 4A No. 6 Waggoner eventually won the Maverick Conference Tournament with 156 points, comfortably ahead of 4A No. 12 Poteau in second place with 138 points. The Bulldogs had five finalists going 4-1 in those games to end with four singles champions: Craig Moore at 132 pounds, Kale Charboneau at 190, Witt Edwards at 215 and Roman Garcia at 285. Bryce Steele finished second at 150.

Pryor Tournament Recap – Cushing prevails over the hosts

Class 4A No. 5 Cushing took the team championship at the Doug Rial tournament in Pryor last weekend, winning 2-2 194 points in the final round.

Host Pryor, No. 12 in 5A, finished second with 145 points, narrowly beating third place 3A No. 9 Vinita with 140. Class 6A No. 14 Union was fourth with 130 points and 5A No. 14 Sapulpa was fifth close behind with 123.5.

For Cushing, both singles championships came after he defeated Pryor wrestlers in the final round. Kaiser Simpson won the 144-pound weight class after beating Pryor’s Bryce Kegley in a hard-fought 3-2 decision in the finals, and Kobe Smith took the 165-pound title by pinning Kade Edmonds in 1:07 . Cushing’s two runners-up were Andy Collier at 126 pounds and Kade Ralston at 215 pounds.

Pryor finished with a 1-3 record in the final round, with Noah Cowan taking the title at 215lbs and pinning Ralston in the finals in just 43 seconds, while Kegley was second at 144lbs, Elbert Grant was second at 157lbs, and Edmonds placed second with 165.

Bishop Kelley finished eighth as a team but had three individual champions: Robert Burke at 126 (beat Collier in a 10-6 decision in the finals), Greyson Zellers at 138 and Cameron Leake at 175who achieved a thrilling 4-2 victory in overtime in the final over Tahlequah’s Jayden Moore.

Other singles champions included Logan Cass of Pawhuska with 106lbs, Zane Donley of Vinita with 113, Garrett Salt of Oologah with 120, Thomas Toteh of Union with 132, Gavin Montgomery of Salina with 150 and Jack Wilkins with 157, Kevin Lund of Glenpool with 190 and Jacob Brammer of Broken Arrow’s backup team at 285.

The Big 12 had to give the schedule to TV partners by February, so it was released shortly before then. Eli and Eric talk about OU’s opponents in 2023, which will no longer feature a round-robin conference list due to the Big 12 expansion.

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