By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A year ago the Stillwater High School wrestling team went to Muskogee as the underdogs and came out with win — beating the Roughers on Muskogee’s Senior Night.
Now the Roughers are looking for a little payback as the two squads clash in the final dual of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
“Last year they probably were a better dual team than us all year long, but then we went into their house on their Senior Night and beat them,” coach Doug Chesbro said. “We were wrestling really well at the time, but they were also probably taking us for granted and they weren’t really thinking about anything except it being the last match of the year.
“Now they’re turning around and coming here. It’s going to be our Senior Night and our kids are going to be thinking about other things. Who knows? Weird things happen.”
A lack of focus may have helped the Pioneers claim the latest victory in this rivalry. But with a revenge-hungry Muskogee team coming in, Chesbro said focus has been a big part of practice this week.
“Kids have better memories than what people think,” Chesbro said. “I’m sure their coaches remember real well that we kind of put a damper on their season. It gave us an 11-win season last year, which was one more than the year before. Not only did we match what we had done previously, but we bested it.”
Much like homecoming a week earlier, so many things outside the mat factor in how well a team performs. The emotions that go with Senior Night play a huge role, but Chesbro said it’s up to him and his staff to channel those emotions in the right direction.
“I tend to try to push a little bit of that aside,” Chesbro said. “The rah-rah factor and getting everybody pumped up, that works to a certain extent. But we’ve wrestled these people so many times throughout the year, our guys know exactly who the other guy across the mat is. They have either wrestled them or seen them wrestle, they’ve either placed in front of them at a tournament or their guy has placed in front of them at a tournament. There’s no secrets left behind.”
The familiarity between the two teams may limit the surprises, but that doesn’t mean the match will be without its fair share of excitement.
With guys like Cody Knight, Garrett Guthrie, Cory Revier and Beau Bigheart wrestling for the final time in the Pioneer Fieldhouse, Chesbro is hoping not just one but all of those seniors go out with a win.
“It would mean a lot not only to me, but also to them,” Chesbro said. “When you spend that much time together, you become a close-knit group. They’re my boys and I want what’s best for them. The things they do might not show up in wins and losses, but I’ve watched them grow up and go from 14-, 15- or 16-year-old kids to 18-year-old men. It would be cool from a coaching standpoint if we can give them each one last moment of glory here at home.”