Huskie mat squad takes break before East Regional at Sperry

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Huskie mat squad takes break before East Regional at Sperry

A week away from competitive wrestling might be exactly what the doctor would have ordered for the Pawhuska High School Huskies mat squad.

“We’re still trying to get some more of our guys healthy for the Regional,” PHS head coach Brian Edwards said Monday. “I think having this week off is probably the best thing that could happen to us at this point.”

Lingering injuries continued to hamper the Huskies’ efforts at the Will Rogers Conference Wrestling Tournament held last Friday and Saturday in Inola.

Brycen Swan was the top PHS finisher at the tourney, The sophomore continued his strong season by placing third in the 132-pound classification. His four tournament victories included a pair of wins over Adam West, a Pawnee senior who handily defeated him in a home dual last month.

“Those were big wins for Brycen, since they came against someone he’s likely to face at the Regional,” the Pawhuska coach said.

For the second straight year, the Vinita Hornets took the conference team title over other conference squads from Barnsdall, Blackwell, Berryhill, Grove, Inola, Jay, Newkirk, Oologah and Pawhuska. Although Vinita and a few others are in Class 4A, a majority of the conference foes will also be taking part in the 3A East Regional — which is slated for Sept. 20-21 at Sperry.

The shorthanded Huskies sent only five wrestlers to the mat at the Will Rogers meet. In addition to Swan, team points were also racked up by senior Jayden Higgins at 182 pounds, 132-pound junior T.J. Finn and sophomore 152-pounder Caleb Bruce.

“All three of them only needed one more win for bringing home a medal,” said Edwards. “We also got a good effort from (170-pound sophomore) Warren Graves.”

PHS starters who were still missing due to injury included 113-pound sophomore Daniel Nightengale, who hurt his back in the finals of the recent Carman Classic, and Jonathon Moody, a 152-pound sophomore nursing a hip injury. Senior 285-pound contender Dakota Jester also has been out since the local tourney in late January. Another local wrestler working his way back on the mat is underclassmen Logan Trammell.

The Huskies’ standout 120-pounder, Levi Youngwolfe, has spent the past four weeks recovering from a hip ailment. Youngwolfe, a sophomore, should still receive a high seeding at Sperry, the PHS coach said. Swan, who has placed in every tournament and claimed a Carman Classic championship, also figures to be seeded for the Regional.

Perennial mat power Perry was assigned to the Regional at Sperry, rather than the West Regional in Marlow. In all, 26 schools will compete in the East-side event.

Pawhuska challenged for the team victory in a Feb. 3 road dual against Tulsa Nathan Hale, but the Rangers held on for a 42-30 team decision. Four Huskies won matches on falls — Higgins, sophomore 152-pounder Caleb Bruce, freshman Dalton Lough at 138 pounds and the 132-pound Swan.

Ninth-graders Lough and Kienan Cheves represented the Huskies in the 2015 Junior High All State Wrestling Tournament, which was held Friday and Saturday inside Oklahoma City’s State Fair Arena — which also will serve as the site for the Feb. 27-28 Oklahoma High School Championships.

Pawhuska eighth-grader Price Perrier won three matches Friday and narrowly missed advancing to Saturday night’s medal round in the 40th-annual tournament. Perrier was runner-up for a 6th/7th grade championship at last year’s tourney.

Seventh-grader Peyton Buzbee competed for the Bixby RAW squad and placed second in the 120-pound class of the 6th/7th division. Buzbee, who won a championship at the 2014 tourney, is the son of a former PHS wrestler, Brady Buzbee.