By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Stillwater High School junior wrestler King Williams won his consolation semifinal match in Saturday’s regional tournament, the look of relief on his face told the whole story.
Twice in his young career, Williams had dreams of making an appearance in the state tournament, only to have those dreams shattered in regionals. Williams failed to make weight in his freshman year and got upset in the regionals in his sophomore year.
“It’s worn on him for two years,” Stillwater coach Doug Chesbro said. “As a freshman, he was having a really good year and ended up not making weight at the regional tournament, so he was automatically disqualified from the get-go. ... Then last year, he was having another good year and got upset in the consolation semifinals — one match away from placing.”
Those tough experiences paid off Saturday as Williams became one of six Stillwater wrestlers to punch their tickets to the state tournament after he finished third in the 120-pound weight class.
“This was one of those cases where his hard work definitely paid off,” Chesbro said. “He did everything right — living right, eating right and training right. ... He made sure he put himself in a position to be able to have success.”
Williams’ quest for the state tournament began before the season began. A standout on the football field, Williams made a commitment to Chesbro and the Pioneer wrestling program to forget about the gridiron and be more focused on the mat.
“From the get-go this year he told me, ‘I’m going to make it this year. Wrestling is the No. 1 thing in my life right now,’” Chesbro said. “He promised me that he would commit himself to wrestling this year and he certainly did that.”
It hasn’t been easy for Williams — or any of the six wrestlers moving on to state. Injury and illness have limited their time on the mat.
It’s through that adversity Williams began to understand exactly what it takes to make it to state.
And when the final whistle blew in Williams’ 9-0 major-decision victory in the consolation semifinal, a sense of relief washed over both Williams and Chesbro.
“During the consolation semifinals the coaching staff as a whole was a little bit on edge,” Chesbro said. “We wanted it for him so bad that we were really coaching him up hard to get there. You get that immediate sense of relief because you made it there, but you also have a sense of pride for the kid who is finally going to get what they paid for after all this time.”
Joining Williams at state will be Kennedy Monday, who avenged an early-season loss to win the 106-pound weight class at regionals. Kaid Brock and Joe Smith also took home regional championships, while 126-pounder Benny Teegarden finished second at regionals. Chase Lane took third in the 138-pound match as the Pioneers finished third as a team.
“It wrapped up our season on a positive note,” Chesbro said. “With the exception of the Sapulpa Tournament, we got no lower than third, which I thought was pretty impressive with the competition we’re up against. I’m really proud of the fact that we stayed in the top three.”
The season may be over for most of the Pioneers but with state beginning Friday, Chesbro said all six wrestlers still have their minds on one thing — winning a state title.
“Their goals aren’t over yet,” Chesbro said. “They’ve got to a certain point and now we’re going to train to go on and do better.”