By Andrew Glover
Stillwater News Press
OKLAHOMA CITY —
The Stillwater Pioneers wrestling team entered Jim Norick Arena with a chance to do something special at the Class 6A State Wrestling Championships Friday. At the end of the first day, Stillwater was in great shape to clinch a state championship with six finalists and all nine wrestlers with a chance to place.
“We are doing what we have to,” coach Doug Chesbro said. “We got to win some matches in the finals on Saturday and have some people come back and place.”
Andrew Nieman advanced in the 106-pound weight class with a tech-fall victory and a 9-0 major decision over Westmoore's Wes Hardin in the semifinals. Kaid Brock advanced with a fall in the quarterfinals over Yukon's Kalani Gradle and a technical fall over Mustang's Gareth Ballard. Brock said he went after him.
“I just went to go get him and go get him,” Brock said. “I was able to relax and score points.”
Brock (40-2) will wrestle Broken Arrow's Zack Edwards, who beat him at dual state in February.
“It will be a tough match,” Brock said. “I'm ready for the heat of battle.”
Tristan Moran took no time to defeat Choctaw's Thomas McGrath with a fall in just 17 seconds. The semifinals match was much tougher as Moran pulled out an 8-6 victory over Bixby's Justin Fletcher. Moran trailed until late in the second period, when he scored a takedown to take a 5-4 lead.
Joe Smith didn't have much trouble advancing to the 145-pound finals. In the quarterfinals, he won by fall 25 seconds into the third period. In the semifinals, Smith disposed of Edmond North's Jordan Prince with a 20-5 technical fall victory.
“I just wrestled tough,” Smith said. “(Prince) wasn't a bad wrestler, I was just able to take him.”
After falling in the finals last season, Smith is extra motivated for Saturday's match.
“I'm fired up and ready to wrestle,” Smith said. “I worked on my mistakes and ready to go win.”
Chandler Rogers only needed a minute and 46 seconds to advance to the 170 finals. Rogers said he was wrestling with extra motivation after the passing of his grandfather.
“I want to do this for him,” Rogers said. “When he passed last week, I knew I had to do it.”
Jordan Dieringer advanced to the 182 finals with a victory by fall and a 15-0 technical fall.
After losing their opening matches, Tyler Dieringer (113) and Benny Teegarden advanced in the consolation bracket and will fight for third on Saturday. Jacob Fontanez pulled an upset with a 7-2 decision over Edmond North's Cy Trindle in the quarterfinals but fell 5-3 to Sand Springs' John Jimenez in the semifinals. Chesbro said those wrestlers will be key if Stillwater is going to win its first title since 1970.
“To win a title you definitely need some help,” Chesbro said. “We didn't really have anyone help us on Friday.”
Entering Saturday, the Pioneers have 107 points and led Edmond North by 2.5 points. Smith said everyone is looking to wrestle their best.
“We've worked really hard for this,” Smith said. “Everyone just needs to accomplish their individual goal and the team goal will take care of itself.”