Taft adapted to challenges during PHS athletic career

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

BLANCHARD — Graduation was just three days away, so Matthew Taft knew last week’s Oklahoma All Star Duals wrestling match would no doubt spell the end of his high school athletic career.

Taft had been recruited for the all-star mat event’s East team by a Vinita coach who, four months earlier, had watched the Pawhuska High School senior defeat two of the Hornets’ wrestlers en route to winning the 170-pound championship at the Carman Classic tournament.

When the West team’s 170-pound entrant failed to show up for Tuesday’s All-Star bout, the Pawhuska grappler was offered an option of competing at the even-higher 195-pound classification.

Not surprisingly, Taft accepted the challenge. Understandably, he lost to the significantly-larger foe. In a way, it was a fitting end to the versatile Huskie’s senior year.

A week before the Class 3A wrestling regional, Taft offered to “bump up” from 170 to 182 pounds. Ultimately, the move probably cost him an opportunity to advance to the state tournament, Edwards said.

Taft, who was graduated Friday, recently enlisted for U.S. Army duty with the Oklahoma National Guard.