Wrestling takes 10th at Owasso dual tournament

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

Varsity wrestling went 3-3, placing 10th in the Owasso dual tournament in Tulsa, over the weekend. It was a drop from previous success, considering they placed fourth for the past three years, but the young team still wrestled well for their most difficult tournament of the year. 

“We went against really good teams,” junior Damion Ilalio said. “The… tournament brings in teams that are ranked in the nation… It’s famous for being really hard.”

The team had a rough start, going 1-2 on the first day of competition. They were defeated in the first dual of the weekend by Cushing [Oklahoma] High 47-19 with only Ilalio, juniors Daron and Darius Island-Jones and senior Tate Sauder getting wins. 

“We were being so slow that morning,” Ilalio said. “A lot of us were getting really frustrated about how we were wrestling.” 

The team lost their second dual of the day to Edmond [Oklahoma] Memorial High by just a four-point margin. One win would have changed the outcome by a six-point swing. Part of the difficulty was injury, with #195 sophomore Talique Houston out with a broken arm, freshman McCoy Link had to step up. While it was good experience, Link being a freshman at his first Varsity meet had difficulty getting wins. 

“We lost to [Edmond Memorial] when we shouldn’t have,” head coach Robert Gonzales said. “I think we should have beat Memorial, we are definitely… in my opinion, by years of experience… a better team that Edmund Memorial. But, on Saturday Jan. 24, we were not.”

The team lost multiple of their duals by narrow margins, meaning one win here or there could have significantly changed placement in the tournament. 

“If you look at the matches, the scores are Manhattan two, that kid three from that school,” Gonzales said. “We lost some close matches… a coach, always sees somewhere on the videotape, or when he’s at the event. ‘Man, if we had just done this,’ we would have won.”

MHS came back in the last dual on Friday to defeat Newkirk High by a margin of 45-36, and get their first win of the weekend.

Because of Friday’s record the team was put in silver pool with a best possible placement of ninth out of all teams on day two of the tournament. Saturday went considerably better for the team, losing just one close round. 

“I think we did a really good [job] of coming back the second day,” Ilalio said. “We had a rough day… on the first day. And the second day, all of us checked ourselves, we checked our mindset… we really got into it on the second day, that’s why we did so well.”

The boys had a great start to Saturday, blowing Owasso White out of the water 69-12. They went on to face Perry High, the team that beat them in the third place dual every year since the team started coming four years ago. The team lost, however by just a four-point margin at 36-32. 

“We wrestled [against Perry] like last year’s team,” Gonzales said. “They are tough, they’re well-coached and we finally… all 14 weights, all 14 boys wrestled very aggressive[ly], and they did a wonderful job, they were just outstanding.” 

They went on to win the last dual of the tournament against Claremore High, a suburb of Tulsa, 51-28 for the 10th place finish. 

The team will go to the JC invitational next week to make up for being snowed out of the Dodge City tournament three weeks ago. They expect to do well, as it’s an easier tournament but aren’t counting the other teams out. 

“We’re right there, we’re really close to being really really good,” Ilalio said. “Some people have to just learn that one thing that’ll get them over the top to where they’re wrestling really competitively… we just have to keep working, like we have been.”