Stillwater High drew the short straw when the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association assigned seeding for the Class 6A dual state wrestling tournament this weekend in Enid.
The Pioneers, who lost only two duals this year by fewer than 10 points and were shorthanded in both matches, were given the No. 7 seed. They must face No. 2-ranked Mustang in the first round of the tournament at 2 p.m. Friday to have any chance of advancing to Saturday’s semifinals.
“We knew that probably our best our best hope was to was to be a four or five seed if we want to get into the semifinals,” SHS wrestling coach Doug Chesbro said. “But it was kind of shocking. That No. 7 seed was a lot lower than what we thought we deserved, what we thought our body of work had proven that we were able to do.”
Stillwater’s seed sits behind one of its losses in Sand Springs, which is the No. 6 seed in the same half of the bracket. The two met in the first week of the season with the Sandites winning by five points in a match in which several roster spots were empty for the Pioneers due to the wrestlers still competing for the SHS football team – which played for the state title three days later.
Perhaps the most surprising seeding, however, may be at the No. 5 spot in Union. Ranked No. 10 in Class 6A, Union has five dual losses on the year, including a 20-point loss to Owasso – a team Stillwater beat by 28 points – but does have an eight-point win over Sand Springs.
Stillwater has seen some of the Mustang wrestlers throughout the season with both teams competing at the Kansas City Stampede, the Geary Tournament and the Central Oklahoma Athletics Conference championship.
“The horses that we run with every day are gonna be fine,” Chesbro said. “But they're just really powerful, especially in the upper weights, they are just tough to beat.
Though the opening dual will be a tough task for the Pioneers, Chesbro is looking at the bright side of the situation.
Not only are they getting another dual – and hopefully more – in before the regional tournament, but it is coming against a group of wrestlers that Stillwater won’t see again until the Class 6A state tournament in Oklahoma City. Mustang will be in a different regional from the Pioneers next week.
“Every time you step on the mat and get that opportunity to compete against somebody good, you're going to better yourself,” Chesbro said. “Hopefully, we'll go into the next weekend to regionals and maybe we can push you know, six, seven, eight or nine kids into the state tournament. And if that can be done, then I think that we will be up to where I think this team should be right now, which is at least a top five team in the state.”
While the venue shouldn’t affect how the wrestlers perform on the mat, this year’s dual state tournament will be in a new location for the first time in a few years.
OSSAA moved the championships from Shawnee to the Stride Bank Center in Enid – which will host all four classifications just like Firelake Arena.
“For us, it's a little bit closer than Shawnee, so that's fine with us, we're good to go,” Chesbro said. “I have no idea what decision was bought into that. I've never been in the building there, so I don't know I don't know what it's like.
“I enjoyed the Shawnee arena, seemed like there was plenty of room there and things worked well.”
Area teams also squaring off at dual state
Cushing is the No. 2 seed in Class 4A, and will take on Cache at noon. The Tigers have lost only two duals this season – a 52-17 defeat to No. 2-ranked Mustang in Class 6A, and a 59-15 loss to Allen, Texas, which is the 28th-ranked team in the country via InterMat Wrestling.
Cache has a 13-3 dual record with close wins over Class 4A No. 14 Clinton and Class 5A No. 11 Altus, and losses to Class 3A No. 3 Comanche and Class 4A No. 4 Elgin – a close 38-31 loss.
Perry will be the No. 6 seed in Class 3A, and will square off with third-seeded Salina at 4 p.m. Friday. The Maroons have a 9-7 dual record, with all of seven their losses coming to ranked teams in higher classifications – including the top two ranked teams in Class 4A (No. 1 Tuttle and No. 2 Cushing), and top-10 teams from Class 6A like No. 6 Edmond Memorial and fifth-ranked Stillwater. They have two wins over ranked opponents – a 40-28 win over No. 6 Blackwell, and a 49-24 victory against Class 5A No. 13 Guthrie.
Salina has a 17-2 record, with only four duals against ranked opponents. It beat Class 3A No. 11 Jay twice by a combined seven points, and Class 4A No. 15 Cascia Hall by a 51-30 margin. It’s only dual against a top-10 opponent ended with a 48-27 loss to Class 5A No. 9 Pryor.