By Andrew Glover
CUSHING, Okla. —
The Perry Maroons were seconds away from defeat as Newkirk’s Layne Leven had Perry’s Damian Tucker on his back close to a fall. At that moment, Perry coach Ronnie Delk gave some encouragement to his wrestler.
“I told him ‘You got this,’” Delk said. “(Tucker) had a goofy smile on his face and he did.”
Tucker scored a takedown and a near fall to clinch the Maroons’ fifth straight state dual title in a 30-25 victory over the Tigers.
“It felt great,” Tucker said. “I went in to it as the underdog. I got that takedown and held on for dear life.”
Tucker struck first with a takedown. Leven scored a takedown of his own and got Tucker on his back, scoring two near-fall points. Perry’s 132-pound wrestler came back and scored a takedown near the end of the first period and nearly pinned Leven to take a 7-6 lead after the first. Tucker said he kept pushing.
“I was thinking I got to win it for (my teammates),” Tucker said. “Our miniature goal is this and our major goal is state.”
Leven retook the lead with a takedown in the second. In the last minute of the third, Tucker took down Leven and got him on his back to start the countdown. The Perry sideline started celebrating as Tucker held Leven down. Tucker received a hug from his coach as he came back to the sideline and was mobbed by teammates.
The championship dual was back-and-forth. Perry took an early lead as they got two decision victories by Colton Looper and Austin Allen and a pin from David Thomas. The Tigers rallied with a major decision and two decisions to take a 13-12 lead. The Maroons regained control starting with a pin by 220-pounder Kyle Varley. Heavyweight Nate Wade followed with a 2-0 decision and Dalton Revels recorded a pin.
The Tigers scored two decision victories and a fall to cut Perry’s lead to 27-25. Delk said the tournament was an eye-opener.
“We got to see where we are and what we need to improve on,” Delk said. “It was good for these guys.”
The Maroons looked like they were going to run away with the semifinals as Jake Biggs, Looper and Allen each recorded falls and Thomas won by decision to give Perry a 21-5 lead over Vian.
The match would be far from over. The Wolverines’ Rylee Simon recorded a fall on Perry’s Cole Ingram 47 seconds into the match. Rowdy Simon added to Vian’s total with an 8-5 decision victory over the Maroons’ Garrett Beier. Cale Mays scored a major decision victory over Perry’s Kyle Varley, giving Vian a 24-21 lead.
With the match on the line, Perry’s heavyweight Wade scored a key victory. In the second period, Wade took the lead with an escape but allowed a takedown to trail 2-1. Wade responded with two takedowns to take a 5-2 lead into the third period. After giving up an escape, Wade scored another takedown to seal a 7-4 decision victory and evened the dual at 24.
“I knew I had to go out and give it my all,” Wade said. “We had some guys earlier that got a couple upsets and that gets the team fired up. I knew if they could go out there and do that and got my back. I got to go out there and get their back.”
Revels made quick work of Vian’s Anthony Chew, needing only 24 seconds to secure a pin in the 106-pound match. The Maroons’ Tevin Williams followed suit with a fall over Jacob Jones in 52 seconds. Noah Nida clinched the dual for Perry with a fall at 40 seconds left in the first.
“Coach just told me to go and wrestle my match and that’s what I did,” Nida said.
Delk said his lower weights stepped up, adding he hopes they continue in regionals and state.
“The state tournament here in a couple of weeks, it’s going to be a team effort,” Delk said. “Our lower weights have to do that.”
Perry will compete at regionals Friday and Saturday in Kingfisher.