By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
As if having two former state champions returning to the Stillwater High program — along with a few other state qualifiers — wasn’t enough to make Doug Chesbro feel positive about the upcoming season, the outlook for the Pioneers got infinitely better from some talented transfers.
Joe Smith and Kaid Brock put the Pioneer wrestling program back on the map with each wrestler winning a state championship — Smith as a freshman then taking runner-up honors as a sophomore, while Brock broke through last year with an individual title. But now Stillwater High has another pair of former state champions — from different states — joining in the wrestling room.
“No matter what, we were going to have a good core of kids coming back, regardless — with Joe, Kaid, Benny (Teegarden), King (Williams) and Andrew Nieman. ... We had that good group of kids coming back, along with the additions that we’ve gained through kids moving in here, and we’ve become a lot better team and it’s shown,” Chesbro said.
One of those new faces is actually already a Division I quality wrestler. Chandler Rogers, the younger brother of Oklahoma State redshirt freshman wrestler Jordan Rogers, recently signed a letter of intent to join his brother at OSU next year.
“He is a natural born leader in this wrestling room. He wants to help other kids get better — it’s almost like having another coach in here,” Chesbro said of Rogers, who was a three-time state champion in Washington. “He pushes himself and others, so he’s been a great addition.”
And that appears to be the case with most of the incoming wrestlers. According to the Stillwater wrestling coach, it’s not a case that these wrestlers are simply taking advantage of the program — but instead looking to help elevate a program that has been on the cusp of greatness for the past decade.
“I think that this program offers them a lot, too, so it’s not like it’s all one sided. I don’t want to take anything away from them because there are some great kids that joined our squad, but they are getting some good out of this, too,” Chesbro said. “It’s not like they came to a program that was on the bottom and they are trying to build it up. They are joining one that is competitive already and they are going to just make it that much better.”
With the addition of the transfers, Chesbro said the competition in the wrestling room has stepped up a notch and that some wrestlers that expected to see the mat prior to all the incoming transfers are now having to work harder in practice.
“People are pushing themselves a little bit more because I think everybody that had a chance to be on the team, now there’s a question mark for a lot of them,” the SHS coach said. “You now have to go out there and not let that person take your spot, you’re going to step up your training. And when people are training harder around you, everybody just naturally steps up a little bit.”
As for the returning stars of the program, Chesbro said guys like Smith and Brock have welcomed the new faces — considering some of the transfers they are already familiar with from competing at the national stage.
“They’ve gelled so quick from some of them wrestling at national events already,” Chesbro said. “When the new guys came in they just immediately became buddies. ... It’s really brought the team as a whole together.”
The Pioneers are scheduled to open the season Thursday with a dual at Shawnee. Their home opening dual will be Dec. 12 against Sapulpa.