Two days of fierce competition at the Junior High All-State Wrestling Tournament last weekend merely whetted the appetites of several young Pawhuska wrestlers, who on Sunday earned return trips to State Fair Arena for the upcoming Oklahoma Kids Wrestling Association Championships.
After narrowly missing out on an All-State title Saturday night, Pawhuska seventh-grader Price Perrier earned a berth at this weekend’s OKWA event with a qualifying placing at the Northwest Regional Tournament in Stillwater. The effort by Perrier followed a grueling, two-day run to the finals of the 96-pound classification in the 6th-7th Grade Division.
"He lost the championship on a close decision, 8-6 (to Michael Reagan of the Tulsa-area RAW team)," said Pawhuska Junior High School wrestling coach Patrick McCarty.
Multiple victories were achieved by five of the six PJHS matmen who entered the All-State junior high event (for contestants in grades 7-8-9)," McCarty added.
One other Junior Huskie grappler, Cade McNeil, participated in the the 6-7 Grade Division and he finished 2-2 in his matches.
Winning five matches each at the Junior High tournament were a pair of freshmen who compete for the Pawhuska High School varsity, Daniel Nightengale and Brycen Swan. Levi Youngwolf, another ninth-grade starter for the PHS varsity squad, finished 3-2 in his Friday and Saturday bouts after placing sixth at last year’s event.
"Brycen (Swan) faced the No. 1 seed in his second match and still managed to win five times," McCarty said. "Daniel (Nightengale) lost the first match he had and then pinned his next five opponents."
Pairs of victories were recorded by three other Pawhuska entries — Payton McCarty, Jonathan Moody and Caleb Bruce.
On Sunday at the OKWA qualifier in Stillwater, Payton McCarty won the 132-pound championship when he recorded a fall in the finals over Barnsdall’s Wesley Yarber, who was a fourth-place medalist the night before in the Oklahoma City event.
Other titles were claimed at the Sunday regional by two Barnsdall entries — 140-pound James Cole and 120-pounder Hunter Perigo. It proved to be an incredible weekend for Perigo, who also was crowned the 120 champ of the 6th-7th division in Saturday night’s All-State event. Perigo had been a runner-up in last year’s 6th-7th competition.
Another Pawhuska qualifier for this weekend’s state championships was Moody, who finished fifth in the Stillwater tourney.
At the OKWA Northeast Regional in Bixby, locally-connected wrestler Peyton Buzbee won a first-place title and his younger brother, Mason Buzbee, took fourth. The finishes send both young grappers into this weekend’s OKC State Championships.
This weekend’s 36th-annual OKWA State Championships begin with Friday-morning weigh-ins, with wrestling to run through the day and Saturday. Closing ceremonies are set at 6 p.m. Saturday with the championship matches to follow.