(Cushing, Okla.) Driving to work early Friday morning, drivers may have noticed an unusual number of buses heading Cushing's way. Twenty-six of these buses were to make their stop at the CHS field house and release numerous wrestlers ready to compete and take away individual and team trophies from the Cushing High School Invitational on Friday and Saturday. As a team, Collinsville ran away with the award by scoring 222 points for the two days. They were followed by Perry with 181 and Cushing with 176.5; the second place competition was so close that had CHS had one more win they would have stolen the honor. Sallisaw's team came in at fourth with 148, but Deer Creek, who finished fifth, was close on their trail at 141. Guthrie (127), Vinita (110), Weatherford (102), Comanche (100) and Vian (88) finished out the top ten teams of the weekend. CHS head wrestling coach, Chad Short, was "excited to see where we are at right now. The Cushing tournament is an extremely tough tournament and is a great measuring tool for how we match up with others in our class. It gives us opportunities to see other teams and what we need to do to get better,"
When the tournament ended on Saturday, seven CHS wrestlers had placed. Two of those placers, senior Kyle Knight and sophomore Gage Stallworth, took first place. Knight, wrestling at 138, started out the day with a bye, but came back strong winning all five of his matches by fall. In his final match of the tournament, Knight went up against returning state champion, Will Stelzlen of Collinsville and won by fall in 3:07. "Knight had an amazing tournament. He has been a great leader in our room all year and he is getting better daily," commended Short.
At 152, Stallworth took out four of his five opponents by fall and was voted, coaches choice, as the "Outstanding Wrestler" in the tournament. Short reminds fans that, "Gage came into the tournament as the number two seed and had two incredible matches in the semis and finals," where he faced Cole Pacheco of Deer Creek in the championship. Pacheco, who was the number one seed in the bracket and had been a strong competitor all weekend, fell to Stallworth in just 1:15.
Senior, Brock Hubble, had his eye on the championship at 220 after two matches that ended in fall and one decision of 5-0 against returning state runner up, Kolbi Phillips. In his final match, Hubble faced senior, Landry Chappell of Guthrie. Chappell is a returning 5A State Champion who finished his junior season 24-3 and recently announced, as an early signee, that he has committed to wrestle at Oklahoma State University. Hubble did not make it easy on Chappell, but came in a close second by decision, 10-6.
Coming in third in the semi-finals, was sophomore, Daniel Hood. This was Hood's first time this year to make weight at 106. After two successful matches that ended in fall, Hood went up against Davion Jefferies of Collinsville and lost 10-4 by decision. Jefferies went on to win his weight by major decision. "Daniel will be right in the mix of everything towards the end of the year," stated Short.
CHS had two forth place finishers in junior, Ricky Ahrberg and senior, Clayton Fields. Ahrberg, 126, drew a bye in the first round, and started Friday off rough as he fell against senior, Ryan Clevenger of Catoosa. However, he shook off the loss and wrestled well on the backside of the bracket defeating five of his six opponents by fall. His final competition was Aaron Hane of Piedmont who won by 3-1 decision in the consolation finals match. Short is confident that Ahrberg will continue "to improve throughout every match," and is "excited to see where he finishes up this year."
Fields, 195, also drew a bye the first round and went up against junior, Conner Howard of Guthrie. He was defeated by decision 2-0. In his fifth and final match of the weekend, Fields wrestled Keenan Priddy of Collinsville. In this consolation final, the winner was determined by decision, and after receiving no score for a take down on the edge, Fields lost the match 3-1.
In a very tough bracket, at 145, junior, Ryan Moline started off his tournament well by pinning Jake Gordon of Sperry in 1:58. However in his next match against Weatherford sophomore, Don Ervin, he lost by decision 4-1 and was sent to the backside of the bracket. His next two victories were a 4-0 decision and a fall before meeting senior, Trent Williams of Perry. Williams received the 8-1 decision and went on to win third in the 145 weight. Coach Short is encouraged by Moline's progress and reflects that he had "a very tough bracket...four of the five placers ahead of [him] were high state placers; two were returning state champions,"
A solid weekend doesn't mean Short will ease up on the wrestlers. He feels they "just need to continue to train hard and get better every week. We are about six or seven weeks away from the state tournament so we really need to push ourselves through this stretch. This middle part of the season can break people and teams (make them want to quit). We want to be tougher mentally and physically going into the latter part of our season. Our training sessions have intensified a little and should help us accomplish our goals. It is important that we stay together and train extremely hard to be where we want to be at the end of our year."
The Tigers will travel to Pawhuska Thursday to take on the Huskies and will be competing in the Bobby Lyons Invitational Tournament this weekend.