By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
For one and a half periods, Stillwater High School wrestler Cyntrell Carden was deadlock in a grind-it-out battle with Shawnee’s Gage Humphrey during Thursday’s dual at the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
Suddenly, everything clicked for the Stillwater sophomore and Carden went from fighting his way below Humphrey to pinning his Shawnee opponent in the span of 20 seconds.
“I saw his arm there and I kind of got mad at myself,” Carden said. “I told myself, I have to win this match. I saw his arm there and I grabbed it and flipped him over. Then I just had to hold on to that pin and not let him go.”
Carden’s pin in the 220-pound weight class proved to be the difference-maker Thursday as the Pioneers escaped with a 38-30 win over Shawnee.
“Wrestling is one of those sports that can turn on a dime,” Stillwater coach Doug Chesbro said. “I guess what Cyntrell did was like running back a kickoff for a touchdown. Usually it doesn’t happen like that. It’s a long, steady grind and you work your way back. ... Just reversing a guy and then turning him over and pinning him, that’s something special.”
The win may have fueled the Pioneers to another victory at home, but it’s been a sight all too common for the Stillwater wrestling team lately.
“That was our M.O.,” Chesbro said. “We have kids that battle hard but come up short sometimes, but what they never do is lose faith in their abilities to get a win somewhere down the road. ... I feel extremely lucky that we’ve been coming away with these victories.
“Our guys are so used to it going our way, they were sitting back watching,” Chesbro said. “I calmly went by the bench and said, ‘Young men if you don’t start acting like you want to be part of what’s going on, I’m going to make you pay to get in next time.’ Then (after Carden’s match) we had some kids that had to be pulled back from the edge of the mat.”
Carden’s match may have paved the way for Stillwater’s victory, but he had plenty of help.
Chesbro took a gamble and inserted freshman Andrew Nieman into the lineup at the 113-pound weight class, while bumping Kaid Brock, King Williams, Benny Teegarden, Garrett Guthrie, Joe Smith and Beau Bigheart up a weight class.
That gamble paid off as six of the seven won their matches despite facing a bigger opponent. Bigheart was the lone loss, dropping a 5-2 decision to Daylan Stuteville.
“It is a gamble sometimes, but you have to have trust in your kids and we do,” Chesbro said. “It looks like we walk in here, line up and go out and wrestle, but I spend a lot of time with my coaching staff before a match just strategizing. It doesn’t feel real good when you warm up and then the coach comes and pats you on the back and says, ‘Have a seat, you’re not wrestling.’ But my kids are fine with that. They understand that duals are a team thing. Not one of them has complained. They’ve done what we’ve wanted them to do and it’s led to a lot of success.”
Wrestling up wasn’t easy for the six. Smith and Brock — who typically pin their opponents in the first period — only picked up a pair of major decisions.
Guthrie also had to come from behind in his match, picking up a reversal with 1:32 left in the third period to defeat Clayton Stafford 4-3 in the 132-pound weight class.
“A win is always good, especially a close win like that where it could go either way,” Guthrie said. “I was just trying to go with the flow. I didn’t really have enough time to think about it. Whatever I saw, I just went with it and hoped for the best. It ended up working out, so that was good.”
“Garrett’s match was a swing match for sure,” Chesbro said. “We knew that going in and we coached him up to the best of our ability because we knew we needed that match.”