By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Last season, the Perry Maroons had to look their at state runner-up trophy to motivate them to win the Class 3A state wrestling champion. This year, Perry hopes to defend its state title as most of its team returns.
“Our main focus is cleaning up the little things,” coach Ronnie Delk said. “We are in a different world right now. I told my kids that ‘It’s hard to repeat anything, and we are going to have to work 10 times harder than last year.”
The Maroons return eight state qualifiers including defending 160-pound champion David Thomas, whose win clinched the team state championship, and second-place finishers 106-pounder Dalton Revels, Noah Nida at 120 and 145-pounder Colton Looper.
“From top to bottom, we are average to well above average,” Delk said. “Losing Nate (Wade) at heavyweight hurts a little but I have some freshmen that are ready to get a chance.”
Perry gained 126-pound state qualifier Blake Avery, who moved from Perkins. Delk said he is excited about Avery.
“He fits right in with the team,” Delk said. “His parents showed up and asked if he could go to wrestling camp with us and I said ‘sure.’ He’s a solid kid.”
Some of Perry’s younger wrestlers got to experience what the state tournament was like including 126-pounder Zane Johnson and 182-pound wrestler Garrett Beier. Delk said he has high expectations for Johnson.
“I expect him to go to the state finals,” Delk said. “He trains hard enough for it. If he gets in there, he should come away with a medal.”
The Maroons begin their season Thursday at Edmond Memorial.
The Cushing Tigers return several of their state qualifiers as they chase a Class 4A state championship. Cushing was runners-up last season to Tuttle. Coach Chad Short is excited about his returners.
“We should be solid up and down,” Short said. “Last year we were hindered by injuries and sickness. I’m excited about the season and these are a group of guys that are easy to push.”
Leading the Tigers on the mat is two-time defending state champion 160-pounder Gage Stallworth. Also returning is Blake Burden who finished fourth at state in the 106-pound weight class, third-place 113-pounder Daniel Hood, 126-pound runners-up Mason Roberts, 152-pound state qualifier Jacob Miller, 170-pound state qualifier Daniel Rowell and 195-pound state qualifier Trevor Hubble. Short said as long as his team stays healthy it should be successful.
“We had a three-week period of dealing with injuries and sickness and wasn’t able to put out a competitive lineup,” Short said. “If we stay healthy we should be fine.”
The Tigers open their dual season at Perry on Dec. 10.
The Perkins-Tryon Demons had a larger turnout but will be starting fresh.
“I’m excited,” coach Ken Matheson said. “I have 11 freshmen. I should be able to fill all the weights, so we can be competitive during dual season.”
In past seasons, P-T has had small turnouts for wrestling and had several weights empty. The Demons lost all three of their state qualifiers from last season. Brett Cheary and Brendon Moody graduated and Avery moved to Perry. The Demons competed at the Tulsa Union Takedown and the Turkey Open. Perkins-Tryon will compete in a tri-dual against Pawnee and Mannford in Pawnee Dec. 10.
The Pawnee Black Bears return 170-pound state runners-up Marlon Houston Jr. The Black Bears open the season at home Dec. 10.