Paul Sargent didn’t waste any time. He put Bishop Kelley’s Cameron Brown on his back and finished him off with a fall at 19 seconds.
Sargent dominated and that’s pretty much how the rest of the night played out for him and his Tahlequah teammates. The Tigers won all but one of the 14 matches and coasted to a 72-6 annihilation of the Comets at the TMAC on Thursday night.
“The first step is out of the way,” Tahlequah coach James Rappe said of District 5A-6 competition, which will determine who goes to dual state out of the quartet of Tahlequah, Bishop Kelley, Shawnee and Skiatook.
“I told the kids not to look past (Bishop Kelley) tonight, and we needed to make a definitive statement. I think we definitely did that.”
It would be hard to argue against that.
The Class 5A No. 8 Tigers (5-0) won the first 10 matches and built up a 57-0 lead. Of the first 10 victories, only two were anything other than falls (one was a forfeit and the other was a victory by decision).
“We came out ready,” said Tahlequah’s Mitch Sellers, who posted a win by fall at 1:27 over Nathan Vaughn at 145 pounds. “We were just glad to have a home dual.”
Tahlequah offered up plenty to cheer about for the home crowd.
Hayden Harris, at 106 pounds, started the night with a win by fall at 1:06 against Sam Moss. Collin Pruitt (113) won by forfeit and Tate Medlin (120), Zech VanFleet (132), Sargent (138) and Sellers all followed with victories by fall. Only Medlin’s victory lasted longer than one period.
Hestin Lamons (152), Reese Davis (160) and Chase Campbell (170) also posted triumphs by fall for Tahlequah. The only non-fall victory in the first 10 matches was Wrighter Weavel’s 2-1 decision win over Spencer Zellers at 126 pounds.
“I knew we’d wrestle well tonight,” Rappe said, “I didn’t know we’d wrestle as well as we did.”
Bishop Kelley’s lone victory came at 182 pounds when Brice Inbody won by fall at 2:27 against Logan Hulse. Inbody was Bishop Kelley’s lone state-tournament participant last season.
“He’s an exceptional wrestler,” Rappe said of Inbody, who led Hulse 22-8 and was nearing a technical fall victory before coming up with a pin. “He could of won (5A) last year and I’m looking for him to be there this year. Hulse went and fought him, but we’re just out-manned right there.”
Colton Wright (195) Hunter Littlejohn (220) and Joseph Tucker (heavyweight) atoned for Tahlequah’s lone setback by posting wins to close out the night. Wright held off Matt Smith, 8-3, and Littlejohn and Tucker both won by fall.
“Hunter Littlejohn stepped up and got his team six points tonight,” Rappe said.
The rest of the week for Tahlequah includes a home quad against Rogers (Ark.) and Rogers Heritage (Ark.). Tulsa Union will also compete with a junior varsity squad, but — like Tahlequah — will only wrestle the two Arkansas clubs. After that, Tahlequah will compete at the McAlester tournament.
“Should have some good competition down there,” Rappe said of the event in McAlester.
As for Tahlequah’s final two district showdowns, those will occur on Jan. 21 (Skiatook) and Jan. 23 (Shawnee). Those two duals will determine whether Tahlequah makes it to dual state for the second time in program history.
“Skiatook and Shawnee are going to be a little taller order,” Rappe said. “...Shawnee is good team that we don’t see very often. I think it’ll be a close dual, and it’s going to be the team that wants it the most.”