At first, a two-week layoff before the Regional wrestling tournament didn’t seem like a bad idea.
“We had a few kids who were trying to get over injuries,” said Pawhuska High School Huskies’ coach Brian Edwards. “Then, we had a couple guys get strep throat.”
So much for taking the time off for health reasons
“But, now,” Edwards said Thursday, “it’s looking like we might be in pretty good shape for Inola (site of the 3A East Regional ).”
A couple of the freshmen members of the Huskies’ varsity squad took part in recent Oklahoma Kids Wrestling Association events. Two weeks ago, Corbin McCarty and Tristian McCartney both finished second in an OKWA Regional and McCartney took fourth at last week’s state open tournament.
“Everybody else has been working out some, and we’ll be picking things up a little next week,” the coach said.
The top four finishers in each of the Regional weight classifications will qualify for the Class 3A State Tournament, which is to be held Feb. 24-25 in Oklahoma City. Winners of consolation fifth-place matches at the regional also can qualify for the state tourney — if one of the higher placers cannot, for some reason, participate.
Last year, Pawhuska’s Caleb Bruce reached the tournament as a provisional, fifth-place Regional qualifier. The 152-pound Huskie then proceeded to win a fourth-place state medal — and confounding many longtime onlookers.
“Not very many people have been able to do that,” Edwards said.
Bruce will be one of a half dozen PHS seniors trying to extend their mat careers through a Regional qualification.
The Inola site should not pose a problem for the local squad, which finished second in the Inola Tournament a month ago. Pawhuska’s 126-pound senior Levi Youngwolfe was named the outstanding wrestler at the event.
Youngwolfe is a three-time state qualifier who was last year’s runnerup for the 126-pound championship.
Another PHS senior, 132-pound Brycen Swan, will be seeking his third straight state qualification. Edwards recently said he had never seen Swan wrestle better than he was at the end of the regular season.
Price Perrier, a 120-pound sophomore of the Huskies, was another 2016 state qualifier.
Others expected to be in Pawhuska’s Regional lineup include:
• sophomore 106-pounder Ryan Parks, who earned an outstanding wrestler honor at this year’s Carman Classic tournament.
• 113-pound freshman Corbin McCarty a two-time tourney winner this season.
• 138-pound junior Payton McCarty, who has built a solid season after working his way back from shoulder surgery.
• Warren Graves, a 160-pound senior who is capable of winning any match.
• freshman Tristian McCartney, a 200-pound over-achiever who played a major role in the Huskies seven-win dual season.
Pawhuska will enter the Regional as the No. 10-ranked team in Class 3A. The Huskies also finished No. 10 ain team points at last year’s state tournament.
The PHS squad has been idle since losing a dual at Skiatook, 46-30, on Feb. 2. At the time, the 5A Bulldogs were preparing to compete at Dual State. They lost their opening match, 64-9, to Lawton MacArthur, which went on to win the 5A championship by topping Collinsville in the finals, 30-28.
Top-ranked teams at the Inola Regional include Perry, No. 4 Vinita, seventh-ranked Blackwell, No. 8 Vian, ninth-rated Sperry and the No. 10 Pawhuska. Additional ranked squads include Kingfisher, Jay and Checotah. The other Regional entries are Barnsdall, Berryhill, Hulbert, Inola, Keys (Parkhill), Locust Grove, Metro Christian, Morris, Morrison, Newkirk, Okmulgee, Parkview (OSB), Pawnee, Salina, Sequoyah (Tahlequah), Tonkawa and Warner.