Huskies overcome foes with stepped-up efforts

Mike Erwin
Daneal Parks (on top) was one of the Pawhuska High School wrestlers recognized Tuesday during “Senior Night” at Oren Terrill Fieldhouse. Jack Buzbee/J-C correspondent

CLEVELAND — The Pawhuska High School Huskies survived back-to-back challenges from ranked foes Thursday and kept their season dual wrestling record spotless.

Pawhuska improved to 5-0 by first defeating the Tulsa McLain Scots, 39-34, and then defeating the host Cleveland Tigers, 35-34.

“Some of our kids wrestled well, but, overall, we did not look very good,” PHS coach Brian Edwards said. “We managed to win both duals, though.”

The twin victories should help to solidify the Huskies' No. 10 position in the Class 3A state rankings, since Cleveland was rated 10th and McLain 15th in Oklahoma Class 4A.

PHS's size disadvantage was compounded Thursday by the absence of 126-pound star senior Levi Youngwolfe, who did not compete because of illness. Several Huskies “bumped up” to wrestle at higher weight classifications, enabling the team to fill all but one spot in the lineup.

After knocking off McLain, the Pawhuska wrestlers focused on Cleveland, which features three returning state placers in the middle of its lineup. It was a heavier-weight match — and one that the Huskies didn't even win — that secured the dual win over the hosts.

The PHS squad was leading the Tigers by 10 points, 35-25, with two weights remaining — but the Huskies were going to forfeit six points in the heavyweight finale — where the squad has been missing an entry all season long. (Senior John Bighorse is recovering from shoulder surgery and junior Kienan Cheves recently underwent knee surgery.)

In the dual's last contested bout, Pawhuska freshman Tristian McCartney waged a close battle with his experienced, 220-pound Cleveland opponent. McCartney wound up losing a 6-5 decision, but he had saved the Huskies three points by not getting pinned, and that allowed the hosts to escape with a one-point team victory.

“Tristian knew what his job was and he went out and did it,” PHS volunteer wrestling assistant Jeff Swan said.

The night's other dual result had McLain edging the host Tigers' squad, 39-36.

Thursday's double winners for Pawhuska included freshman Cade McNeil, who pinned his Tulsa foe and won a four-point decision against the Tigers. McNeil was wrestling “up” in Youngwolfe's 126-pound spot. Also winning two bouts were 145-pound junior Payton McCarty, senior Caleb Bruce at 152 pounds and junior 170-pounder Dalton Lough.

“Those four wrestled really well for us,” Edwards said.