By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Joe Smith served notice to the rest of the state on Tuesday — there’s a large gap between he and the rest of the wrestlers at 132 pounds.
Smith, the top-ranked wrestler in Oklahoma at 132, went head-to-head with No. 2 wrestler Zack Edwards of Broken Arrow at Pioneer Fieldhouse. After wrestling through a scoreless opening period, Smith steamrolled his competition for a 21-8 major decision — which included two near falls.
“There’s a lot of difference between those two, as you can see,” SHS coach Doug Chesbro said. “I was proud that he made a statement to that kid and the rest of the kids in the weight class that ‘I am the one to beat. You’re the closest they’ve got and this is what I did. Everybody else better look out.’”
The match was still close heading into the final period, with Smith recording a pair of takedowns to hold a 4-3 lead after the second. But after the Stillwater sophomore was penalized for a hand to the face of Edwards in the third — which made the score 7-5 — the reigning state champion found another gear and recorded four takedowns and two nearfalls in the closing two minutes.
“He broke the kid is what happened. When the kid gets so overwhelmed with what’s going on and realizes no matter what he does, he’s going to get scored on, they just shut down,” Chesbro said. “That kid didn’t even want to get back up when we were cutting him loose because he knew he would get taken down again. That’s the ideal thing you want to do when you’re wrestling somebody — get them to the point where they have nothing left, no fight left in them.”
Smith’s victory was one of just a few highlights for the Pioneers against one of the top teams in the state. The Tigers trounced Stillwater to the tune of 43-16 with the Pioneers winning just four bouts.
“I read the papers and see what they are capable of and I’ve seen a lot worse losses than this — I know the most recent I saw was a 77-0 score that they slapped on somebody,” Chesbro said. “So when you look up and see that we won four matches and held them in the 40s, that’s pretty dog gone good. Our kids fought hard and we lost quite a few three-point decisions in close matches — and that’s all I can expect the kids to do is go out and wrestle, and they did tonight.”
Stillwater started off the dual on a strong note with freshman Kennedy Monday scoring a 2-0 decision win over Damon Hail — after Monday labored in a loss Thursday coming off an illness.
“I was feeling better today,” Monday said. “I’ve been running a lot more — after the sickness, you still have to try to recover. So I’ve just been trying to recover from that sickness.”
The freshman 106-pounder for the Pioneers scored a takedown in the first period and had to battle to maintain that advantage. After riding out Hail for the remainder of the period, neither wrestler managed to score an escape in the final two periods as Monday rode Hail for the entire two minutes of the final period to seal the win.
Following Monday’s hard-fought victory, sophomore Kaid Brock had a full blitzkrieg at 113 pounds against Vince Valentin. After scoring five takedowns through the first two periods, Brock scored one last takedown early in the third and pulled out a pin 25 seconds into the final frame.
The next victory for Stillwater came from Smith at 132, then there was a long stretch of Broken Arrow victories — a run of seven straight to be precise.
Stillwater’s Pete Pickens nearly ended the streak at 170 pounds, but was unable to come away with the win in the end. Pickens held a 5-1 advantage in the opening period — including nearly pulling off a pin — but allowed Steven Allen back into the bout when he locked hands and gave up a reversal in the second period. After scoring an escape in the third period, Pickens was taken down late in the match and Allen got a nearfall to clinch the 9-6 win.
“He hasn’t had the opportunity to be in that position a whole lot,” Chesbro said. “He needed to slow down, realize how much time was left, what the score was and that’s what we’re still trying to teach some of these younger, more inexperienced kids — learn where you’re at on the mat at any given time and know how much time is left and what the score is.
“We’re just not to the point where we can navigate ourselves through a match, necessarily. But we’re getting there and he’ll learn from that.”
Cyntrell Carden came up big for Stillwater at 220 pounds to prevent a complete sweep by Broken Arrow of the final matches. The heavyweight recorded a takedown with five seconds left in the second period for the deciding factor in a 3-1 decision.
“Every once in a while Cyntrell just steps up a little bit and if we can get him to wrestle at that level all the time, he’s going to win a lot of matches,” Chesbro said.
Stillwater High will turn its attention now to Norman High, who comes to town Thursday for Stillwater’s Homecoming. The dual is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Fieldhouse.