Huskies will open mat season with heightened expectations

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Two-time state qualifier Levi Youngwolfe will lead a reinvigorated Pawhuska Huskies wrestling team into the 2015-16 high school wrestling campaign Thursday night at Mannford.

Although a broken leg kept Youngwolfe off the mat during the early months of last season, the 120-pounder still claimed a third-place medal at Class 3A Championship Tournament. Youngwolfe won 26 matches and was Regional runner up to the eventual state champion.

“That was a strange year because of the injury,” said Youngwolfe, who’s looking forward to a more normal start as a junior. “I feel good and think this could be better year for our whole team.”

The PHS mat schedule includes three home duals and two local tournaments. The 20th-annual Carman Classic will be featured in January.

First home matches for the Huskie varsity and junior high squads are set for Tuesday night, Dec. 8, when the Cleveland Tigers visit Oren Terrill Field House. Junior high bouts begin at 6 p.m. and the high school dual will follow.

The other returning state qualifier for Pawhuska, Brycen Swan, is also a junior. Swan’s team-best 33 victories included a victory at the 3A tourney and the Huskies’ lone championship in last year’s Carman tourney.

“Brycen will still be at 132 (pounds), but Levi may move up to 128,” said Brian Edwards, the second-year head coach of the Huskies. “We’ll also have Price Perrier in that weight range, so we’ll be pretty strong through there.”

Perrier, a freshman, will be bringing naturally high expectations as a Pawhuska mat legacy. (His father and brother are both former state champions.) Another freshman with a familiar local wrestling name — Ryan Parks — is expected to start at the lowest (108-pound) weight classification for the Huskies.

The first home match is set for Tuesday night, Dec. 8, when the Cleveland Tigers visit Oren Terrill Field House. A junior high dual begins at 6 p.m. and the high school dual will follow.

Other projected varsity starters for PHS will include junior Daniel Nightengale at 113 pounds, senior T.J. Finn, sophomore Dalton Lough, junior Daniel Parks, seniors Taylor Walker and Mathew Taft and junior 172-pounder Warren Graves. Another junior, Caleb Bruce, is expected to fill the Huskies 152-pound spot when he is cleared from a football injury. A gridiron injury may also keep junior John BigHorse off the mat this season.

Edwards said the Huskies’ struggle to fill heavier weights will be helped greatly if sophomore Keenan Cheves re-joins the squad.

Pawhuska wrestlers will participate in the Chuck West Invitational Tournament at Bristow on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11-12. The Huskies are slated for junior high and high school duals at Barnsdall on Tuesday, Dec. 15. PHS will be hosting a high school dual tournament on Saturday evening, Dec. 19.

“That dual tournament will give everybody a chance to wrestle five of six matches in one day,” said Edwards. “Early in the season, that is something that can really help get people into shape.”

Edwards said junior varsity squads from 6A Owasso and Broken Arrow will probably be participating in the local dual tourney.

“They’ll be bringing full squads and some of them will be pretty tough, even though they’re JV,” the coach said.

Following the Christmas/New Years holidays, the Huskies will take part in the Cushing High School Wrestling Tournament on Jan. 8-9. Pawhuska’s high school and junior high mat squads are scheduled for three January road duals — at Okmulgee (Tuesday, Jan. 12), in Bartlesville (Thursday, Jan. 14) and at Sperry (Tuesday, Jan. 19). Starting time for each will be 6 p.m. Pawnee will host the district’s dual tournament on Thursday, Jan. 21.

The Carman Classic wrestling tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23. PHS’s Wrestling Homecoming will be Thursday, Jan. 28, prior to the Huskies dual matches with the Tonkawa Buccaneers. Huskie wrestlers are due to compete in the Pryor Tournament on Friday, Jan. 29.

Grove is the site of the Will Rogers Junior High Conference Tourney on Saturday, Jan. 30. (Note that a district dual meet for junior high squads was to be held Tuesday, Dec. 1, in Blackwell.) Pawhuska will host Tulsa Nathan Hale for the final high school dual of the season at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The Will Rogers Conference Tournament is to be held in Tonkawa on Feb. 5-6.

Dual State events will be Feb. 12-13. Regional tournaments are set Feb. 19-20, with the Oklahoma Wrestling Championships set Feb. 26-27 in Oklahoma City.