For one night, 100 Perry High School wrestling fans shifted their allegiance away from Oklahoma State for just one match Friday.
With Missouri in town to take on the No. 9-ranked Cowboys, residents from Perry had the chance to see one of their greats back in action near his hometown. Redshirt freshman Matt Manley, a three-time state champion for the Perry Maroons, has cracked the starting lineup and put together a 20-9 record in first collegiate season.
“It was exciting to come back and let everybody know I’m still kicking, I’m still out there trying to get better and just still wrestling,” Manley said.
Those Perry faithful in attendance made themselves heard. During the introduction of the two teams before the dual, Manley received as loud an applause as many of the Oklahoma State wrestlers.
“That feels good, knowing you’ve got that support back home. It just felt good,” Manley said.
Manley admitted it’s taken him some time to adjust to life in college wrestling.
After being accustomed to winning so much at the prep level, with three individual state championships and several more team titles with Perry, he’s had to swallow his lumps for the 10th-ranked Tigers.
“It’s tough, losing is nothing you ever want to get used to,” the former Perry great said. “You always have to look at the positives and try to take something away from every match.”
But he’s battled to where he is now.
Manley said he beat out a senior for a starting spot in the Missouri lineup.
“It took a lot, it wasn’t just handed to me,” Manley said. “I had to beat a good senior out for the spot. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of training in and of itself to get the chance to start.”
This past weekend, he faced a pair of top 10 wrestlers in Oklahoma’s Cody Brewer, ranked No. 8 at 133 pounds, in a dual Thursday in Norman before facing OSU’s Jon Morrison, ranked fifth nationally. While Thursday’s dual wasn’t pretty — losing by technical fall, 18-3 — he put up a fight against Morrison, losing 6-1.