Levi Youngwolfe wins state mat crown

Mike Erwin |

OKLAHOMA CITY — After finishing third as a sophomore and placing runnerup last year, Pawhuska High School’s Levi Youngwolfe completed his climb to the top of the medals’ stand Saturday night in Oklahoma Wrestling Championships at State Fairgrounds Arena.

Youngwolfe captured the Class 3A 126-pound title to become the 18th individual state champion in PHS wrestling history.

“Winning the state tournament has been a goal of mine since I started,” said Youngwolfe, who began wrestling at age 5. “I’d been close a couple of times and it was a great feeling to finally do it.”

In the tourney finals, the Huskies’ four-time state qualifier registered a 5-3 decision over Perry senior Brycen Justus. The victory avenged Youngwolfe’s only loss of a 29-victory senior season. At last weekend’s East Regional at Inola, Justus (who finished 37-16) had topped the Pawhuskan by an identical 5-3 score.

“That really made me mad, because I wanted to go undefeated,” Youngwolfe said. “But, if I had to lose, I’m glad it was then and not in the finals.”

The upset at Inola made Youngwolfe a four-time Regional runner-up. He qualified second from the East side of the state at 113 pounds as a freshman, at 120 as a sophomore and in the 126-pound division during his last two campaigns.

Youngwolfe said his toughest match at the state tournament came in the Friday’s night’s semifinals against the No. 1-seed, Alec McDoulett of Little Axe.

“It was mainly because I’d never seen him before and I didn’t know what to expect,” the Pawhuska senior said. “And, he apparently had seen some of my matches.”

McDoulet took a 6-2 advantage in the opening period, but Youngwolfe narrowed the margin to 6-5 in the second. Pawhuska head coach Brian Edwards said as the third period neared the one-minute mark, they made a tactical decision to release McDoulet — giving him a two-point edge, at 7-5 — and try for a takedown.

“I knew that I could take him down,” said Youngwolfe, who did so with 20 seconds remaining — which tied the score at 7-7. “I couldn’t quite finish him off before time ran out, but then I got another takedown to win it.”

The 9-7 sudden-victory came just 16 seconds into the overtime period.

“Levi wrestled really well both days,” Edwards said. In his first-round match Friday, Youngwolfe gave a wrestling lesson to a sophomore from Sulphur en route to a 15-0 triumph by technical fall — which he completed 14 seconds into the third period.

Justus won his Friday night semifinal bout via a 5-2 decision over Checotah sophomore Cade Shropshire, who had given Youngwolfe a whale of a battle in last month’s finals of the Carman Classic tournament. Shropshire wound up third in the division.

Edwards said Youngwolfe earned an invitation to represent Oklahoma in an upcoming four-state competition called “The Battle of the Bad,” which will be held March 7 at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami.

“He’ll have three matches against guys from Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas,” the Pawhuska coach said. “And, there should be quite a few college coaches there watching.”

Youngwolfe claimed the Huskies’ 27th individual title and their first in five years. (Cameron Kirk won the second of his titles as a senior in 2012. This season, Kirk helped to train Youngwolfe and the rest of the Pawhuska squad.)