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PHS wrestlers get rolling at tourney; duals due up next

Pawhuska High School wrestler Zalin Edwards circles an opponent during a recent match. The 170-pound senior placed fourth in last weekend’s Cushing Invitational Tournament as the Huskies opened the second half of their current mat campaign. Thus far, the season has been marked by numerous cancellations due to weather. The PHS squad will travel to Barnsdall this Thursday for duals with the Panthers and Morrison. On Thursday, Jan. 16, the Huskies are slated for a home match versus Tonkawa. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL-CAPITAL
Pawhuska High School wrestler Zalin Edwards circles an opponent during a recent match. The 170-pound senior placed fourth in last weekend’s Cushing Invitational Tournament as the Huskies opened the second half of their current mat campaign. Thus far, the season has been marked by numerous cancellations due to weather. The PHS squad will travel to Barnsdall this Thursday for duals with the Panthers and Morrison. On Thursday, Jan. 16, the Huskies are slated for a home match versus Tonkawa. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL-CAPITAL

CUSHING — Zalin Edwards and Levi Youngwolf provided the top Pawhuska results last weekend at the Cushing High School Wrestling Tournament.

Both Edwards, a 170-pound senior, and freshman 113-pounder Youngwolf notched fourth-place finishes at the rugged two-day meet.

Eight grapplers went to the mat for Coach Wade Rogers’ Huskies, who were making just their second appearance of the season — which, thus far, has been consistently plagued by foul weather.

Edwards just missed out on advancing to Friday night’s semifinals. He lost a close decision in the quarterfinals after winning his first two bouts. On Saturday, Edwards posted three straight victories before dropping a hard-fought 4-3 decision to Riley Betchan of Perry in the third-place match of the 170-pound division.

After pinned his opening-round opponent, Youngwolf battled his way to the consolation finals following a defeat in round two. He captured three matches in a row Saturday en route to placing in his second consecutive high school tourney — improving from a previous fifth-place finish last month at Bristow. In his last bout at Cushing, Youngwolf was decisioned, 6-3, by the 113-pound third-place winner, Zach Antencio of Plainview.

PHS senior Taylor Priest won his first two bouts in the 126-pound classification before losing a quarterfinals showdown with two-time state champion Briar Stopp of Newkirk. Priest, a state qualifier as a sophomore and junior, was eliminated Saturday after splitting a pair of matches. Pawhuska’s promising 120-pound freshman, Brycen Swan, was alive in the consolation bracket after winning two of his three Friday matches, but failed to make weight on the second day of competition.

Sean Valencia, a returning senior of the Huskies in the 138-pound division, won his first two bouts before dropping a 6-2 decision in the quarterfinals and then being eliminated on Saturday. Jayden Higgins, a junior 145-pounder, recorded a victory in his initial outing of the season. Also for PHS, sophomore Matthew Taft competed at 152 and freshman John Bighorse launched his high school mat career as the Huskies’ 195-pound entry. Pawhuska did not field grapplers in the 106-, 132-, 160- or 225-pound weight classes.

The Huskies were represented by a pair of heavyweights at Cushing — junior Dakota Jester and Woodland senior Grant Moore. After winning by fall in his initial PHS mat appearance, Moore remained in contention until the late stages of his next two bouts in the under-285 pound weight division. Prior to the start of the season, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association voted permission for wrestlers from the Fairfax school to compete as members of the Huskies’ team.

Class 3A Pawhuska placed 18th out of 31 schools that participated in the tourney. The 3A Perry Maroons won the team title with 199 points, trailed by the host Cushing Tigers squad of Class 4A (at 179 1/2). The Huskies compiled 52 1/2 points — which was only three points fewer than the 16th-place Bartlesville Bruins.

Bartlesville is coached this season by Martin Parks, the longtime mat mentor from Pawhuska who came out of retirement to take over the Class 6A program. The defending state champion of the Bruins, Michael Hamilton, claimed the 160-pound title at Cushing with a 15-0 technical fall over Perry’s David Thomas.

Hamilton, a senior, recently committed to wrestle next year for the University of Oklahoma, where he will re-join his brother, Tim, a three-time state champ who currently is a red-shirt freshman at OU. At Cushing, the younger Hamilton scored tech falls against all four of his opponents.

Tenth place in the Cushing team standings went to the Newkirk Tigers, with 100 1/2 points. The Tigers currently are the No. 3-ranked squad in Class 3A. Newkirk was to visit PHS’s Oren Terrill Field House on Tuesday for a District 3A-8 dual, but inclement weather forced postponement of the match.

The Huskies are slated for a double dual match at Barnsdall on Thursday. PHS will face a pair of District 3A-8 foes in the host Panthers and the Morrison Wildcats. Starting time is set at 6:30 p.m.

Pawhuska’s freshmen varsity members will be headed back to Cushing this Friday and Saturday. They are to lead a contingent of Huskie seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade competitors into the Cushing Junior High Wrestling Tournament. Previous bad weather forced rescheduling of the two-day tourney from its original December 6-7 dates.

The PHS grapplers have a road dual slated for Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Pawnee against the No. 15-ranked Black Bears. Also, a home match is set Thursday, Jan. 16, against another of the Class 3A contenders, Tonkawa Buccaneers (currently ranked No. 6). Huskie road matches are scheduled Monday, Jan. 20, at No. 14 Sperry and on Tuesday, Jan. 28, against 3A’s top-ranked squad, the Perry Maroons.

Pawhuska will host the annual Carman Classic wrestling tournament on Jan. 24-25 at Oren Terrill Field House.

State athletic officials recently announced that PHS will be the host school for the 2014 Class 3A East Regional, which will be held at the field house Feb. 21-22. Plainview, in Ardmore, was selected to be the site for the 3A West Regional.

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