Trio of Huskies headed to state tournament

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Vastly divergent routes were taken by three Pawhuska High School Huskies who, via top-four finishes at last weekend’s East Regional in Bristow, qualified for the upcoming Oklahoma 3A Wrestling Championships.

Levi Youngwolfe earned his third consecutive trip to the state tournament with a near-perfect Regional run in which he needed just four minutes and change to pin three opponents and reach Saturday night’s 126-pound final. The PHS junior wound up second, however, following a 2-1 loss in overtime against a foe from Oklahoma City’s Heritage Hall.

Freshman Price Perrier placed third at 120 pounds in Bristow — and he did it the hard way. After building a comfortable lead in his opening bout, Perrier was the victim of a fall, which forced him to battle all the way back through the losers bracket. The talented ninth-grader made his run through the consolations behind four falls — three in the first period and the last one in the second.

Brycen Swan took fourth place in the 132-pound class to qualify for the championships a second straight year. Getting falls against his first three opponents, Swan advanced to the Friday semis before losing by technical fall to Heritage Hall’s defending state champion — junior Kaden Gfeller, who is 31-0 this year and unbeaten over the past two seasons. Swan notched one more victory to earn his qualification to state and reach the consolation finals, where he lost to Riley Cinnamon (24­-17), a Perry sophomore he had pinned the previous day.

Two other PHS juniors — 152-pound Caleb Bruce and Warren Graves at 170 — kept alive their chances of appearing at the state tournament by winning fifth-place matches at Bristow. Either of those Huskies would receive a berth in the OKC tourney if an East qualifiers in their weight is unable to compete.

Coach Brian Edwards’ Pawhuska squad finished fifth out of the 28 schools that participated in the Regional. The Huskies 107 total points was surpassed by only Perry (275), Heritage Hall (203 1/2), Sperry (126) and Barnsdall (125). Huskie 106-pounder Ryan Parks came in sixth at Bristow and concluded his solid freshman campaign with 18 victories.

Youngwolfe will be taking a 30-2 season record into the 3A championships, where his initial opponent will be Comanche freshman Zack Mayes. A first-round victory would send Youngwolfe to meet the winner of a match between West Regional champ Henry Brown (27-12), a senior from Geary/Watonga, and Berryhill sophomore Albert Stem (25-­8). Stem was Wolfie’s fall victim in last Friday’s Regional semifinal.

Perrier is to be pitted against West Regional runner-up Stetson Baker for his opening-round match at state. Baker, a Blackwell senior, has a season record of 31­-7. While Perrier compiled a solid 26-8 mark, it included losses to Baker in the district duals and the Carman Classic finals.

Swan (20-9) will be facing Plainview senior Maddie Roney (44-­8) in his Friday opener. Roney won the West Regional and was a state champ at 126 pounds in 2015, when he wrestled for Kingfisher. The situation may seem familiar to Swan, who also drew a top seed from Plainview (undefeated senior Dylan Lucas) in last year’s first round. After falling to Lucas, Swan won his first consolation bout before losing out to the eventual third-place finisher, Colton Denney of Heritage Hall

Pawhuska seniors Taylor Walker and Mathew Taft came up short on their bids to reach the state tourney, although both recorded wins that boosted their team’s point total. The 138-pound Walker earned a second-period fall in his opening bout at Bristow and Taft, the Huskies’ 182-pound entry (although he weighs more like 162) won a match in the consolations.

PHS’s Kienan Cheves won his first two bouts in an ultra-competitive 220-pound classification. His second triumph was a 9-8 decision over a Perry senior. Fellow sophomore Dalton Lough recorded a fall in his opener at 145. The Huskies were triumphant in eight of their first 11 trips to the mat at the Regional.

“We had a good start, but every round gets much tougher at a Regional,” coach Edwards said. “Still, fifth place isn’t too bad — and we’ve got several going on to state.”

Graves battled back from a tough opening round in which he drew the East’s eventual 170-pound winner, River Simon of Vian. He beat a Perry wrestler to reach the consolation finals, where he won a 10-3 decision (and his 20th season victory) over Tonkawa senior (and Carman Classic champ) Koby Mora.

Bruce won a first-round decision before his first loss, then reeled off three straight victories — capped by a 7-5 defeat of Perry’s 152-pounder.

Edwards said the Huskies won five of six matchups against the Regional champions (and 3A Dual State champs) from Perry.

Barnsdall will be sending five to the state tournament: senior Logan Bryant, who finished third at 113 pounds; senior Colten Allen, the Regional runner-up at 145; sophomore James Cole, who took third at 160; senior Austin Nelson, the second-place finisher at 195, and the runner-up at 225 pounds, junior Baylee Perigo.