By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Every year it seems like the Stillwater High School wrestling team goes to more and more tournaments. But there’s perhaps one tournament Stillwater coach Doug Chesbro looks forward to more than others — the Big 4 Tournament.
With teams like Perry and Blackwell competing, the tournament is essentially serves as a preview of the state tournament. This year Stillwater gets to host it, with the competition beginning Saturday morning at the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
“There’s Class 3A, 5A and 6A teams that are going to be here and some of them are the best in their class,” Chesbro said. “Altus is going to come in with some extremely tough kids, and nobody sees Altus very often. … It’s going to be fun. The people that are here to watch the tournament this weekend are going to see multiple state champions wrestling on Saturday from 6A, 5A and 3A. I’m telling you, there will be some studs out here wrestling. If you want to see the future of wrestling in the state of Oklahoma, this will be the place to watch it on Saturday.”
Along with Altus, Perry, Blackwell and Ponca City will also make the short trip to Stillwater to see how they stack up against the best of the best.
And while the Pioneers have already gone through the gauntlet the last two weeks — facing teams like Perry, Midwest City and Broken Arrow — the Big 4 Tournament provides that high caliber of competition to help Stillwater get ready for the regional and state meets.
“It’s going to do great things for us because we’re going to wrestle the toughest competition around,” Chesbro said. “Wrestling the toughest competition is obviously going to make you better. Win or lose, we’re going to be better on Sunday than we were on Friday for sure.”
After snapping a four-dual losing streak Thursday against Norman, the Pioneers feel more confident and like they have the momentum heading into the Big 4 Tournament. Whether that translates into more wins, remains to be seen.
“It’s just momentum city right now,” Stillwater senior Beau Bigheart said. “It’s awesome picking up a huge win on Thursday night and then getting to wrestle in our hometown Saturday. We’re going to have so much momentum. The guys are going to come out, have fun with it, wrestle our hardest and show what we have to prove to all these Big 4 teams.”
While Bigheart and some of the other wrestlers hope wins Thursday translate to wins Saturday, Chesbro would much rather see the Pioneers put the 32-28 victory over Norman behind them and focus on what’s ahead.
“I wasn’t really that impressed with our skills (Thursday),” Chesbro said. “It seemed like our tank was a little empty and the kids had trouble getting started. I want to get past (Thursday) and not even dwell on this at all. We’re going to take the victory and move on and worry bigger and better things — meaning the Big 4. It’s history. We didn’t do the best we’ve done all year, but we won. We needed that win badly and now it’s time to think about the Big 4.”
With two duals earlier in the week and the Big 4 Tournament this weekend, Chesbro said he realizes his team may start showing signs of fatigue by the end of the tournament. He’s hoping that a light practice Friday will give them time to recuperate and avoid slow starts similar to the one they had against Norman.
“We’re going to taper off our workout (Friday),” Chesbro said. “I pushed them pretty hard (Wednesday) and I think it showed a little bit (against Norman). I’m going to taper it off a little bit, give the kids a little break and let them roll around a little bit and make weight.”