Pawhuska High School wrestlers may not get to stay home for the holidays, but they’ll be spending a lot of time there between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The talent-laden mat squad of the Huskies will start the 2016-17 season with four straight home duals during the first two weeks of December.
“That first month is always a challenge, especially with so many guys coming out of football,” said Coach Brian Edwards, who is in his second full season at the Pawhuska helm.
PHS lost only two of its starters from a lineup that went 7-3 in last season’s duals. Included on the Huskies’ list of opponents were Class 3A rivals Barnsdall and Tonkawa, as well as 4A Cleveland and 6A Bartlesville.
“We’re hoping to build on past success,” Edwards said.
The Huskies were close to having wrestlers for all 14 weight classifications — which is something they had not been able to do for several years. Injuries sidelined the team’s two highest-weight grapplers, however. Senior heavyweight John Bighorse has now had shoulder surgery, and 220-pound junior Keinan Cheves is hobbled by a knee problem.
“As of right now, we should have 11 weights filled — everything from 182 down,” added Edwards. “We should be pretty deep and solid in some of those.”
Among those returning to the mat for Pawhuska is three-time state qualifier Levi Youngwolfe, a senior who placed second in the 126-pound division at last year’s 3A Championships after finishing third at state as a sophomore. Youngwolfe’s 34-3 mark, included 23 by fall and featured four tournament titles.
Another of the Huskies’ seniors, Caleb Bruce, won a fourth-place state medal in 3A’s 152-pound classification. Bruce missed more than a month of last season with lingering footnall ailments and he got into the tourney as a provisional qualifier.
Two-time state qualifier Brycen Swan, also a senior, had 21 mat victories for Pawhuska a year ago, which included 14 by fall. Swan reached the consolation semifinals at 132 pounds and barely missed out on a state medal. Aafter qualifying as a freshman to state at 120 pounds, PHS sophomore Price Perrier will be looking to return to the championships.
Edwards said the Huskies have good depth in several of the lighter and middle weights, but will be hard-pressed to find replacements in the heavier classes.
“We really need John and Kienan,” the coach added. “Maybe, after Christmas, one or both of them can make it back.”
The 2016-17 Pawhuska mat campaign will get under way Thursday, Dec. 1, at Oren Terrill Field House when the Huskies go to the mat against the junior-varsity squad from Class 6A Broken Arrow. Junior high matches begin at 5 p.m. and the high school bouts are set for 6 p.m.
Sperry, one of the Huskies’ top 3A rivals, are to visit on Thursday, Dec. 8. A varsity-only dual between PHS and the Pirates starts at 6 p.m. The next evening — Friday, Dec. 9 — Sand Springs will send a jayvee team to the PHS gym. Starting time for the dual with the Sandites will be 6 p.m.
PHS Wrestling Homecoming is scheduled to be held Tuesday, Dec. 13. The Huskies’ opponents for that night’s dual will be the Barnsdall Panthers. The 2016 portion of Pawhuska’s schedule concludes with the Cleveland Tigers Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16-17.
Mat action resumes for the Huskies three weeks later — following the Christmas/New Years break — with the Huskies participating in the Cushing Tigers Tournament, Jan. 6-7. The Pawhuska squad is slated for a dual at Okmulgee on Tuesday, Jan. 10, before returning to Cleveland on Thursday, Jan.12, for duals with the host Tigers and Tulsa McLain.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Huskies are to host the Bartlesville Bruins for a dual. At the end of that week, on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-21, the annual Carman Classic Tournament will be held at the PHS field house. A district duals event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 26, at a site that has not yet been determined. The Huskies travel to Tonkawa for a dual on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and then go to Skiatook on Thursday, Feb 2. Pawhuska will participate in the Will Rogers Conference Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4.
A team qualification to the 3A Dual State Tourney would put the Huskies on the mat Feb. 10-11. Regional tournaments are slated Feb. 17-18, with State Tournaments following on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25.
Additional returning starters for the Huskies are sophomore Ryan Parks, junior Dalton Lough and seniors Daniel Nightengale, Danyeal Parks and Warren Graves. A pair of transfers — Payton McCarty from Barnsdall and Marshall Corwin from Ponca City — should bolster the PHS lineup. Freshmen R.J. McCann, Corbin McCarty and Tristian McCartney are also expected to contribute, the coach said.