Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

February 1, 2014

Tiger advances to conference finals in dramatic fashion

Hulbert, Keys with one finalist at Maverick Conference Tournament

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

WAGONER — Will Tiger was staring the consolation bracket in the face. Down five points through two periods, Tigers' future in the championship bracket at the Maverick Conference Tournament seemed ominous.

That's when things got interesting.

Tiger rallied from a 9-4 deficit and beat Wagoner's Trenton Miller in the final seconds of the 126-pound semifinals on Friday afternoon. Tiger scored a reversal with 15 seconds left to prevail against Miller, 13-12.

"Tiger's match was exciting from start to finish," Sequoyah coach Brad Jones said. "We knew the kid was strong and tough but that's the kind of match we want to wrestle."

Despite being turned on his back in both the first and second periods, Tiger managed to survive the first four minutes.

That's when Tiger pieced together a ferocious comeback.

Tigers would eventually go ahead 11-10 with an early barrage of points in the third period. Miller then scored a reversal to claim a 12-11 advantage with 26 seconds remaining. But Tiger managed one last reversal to score a spot in the finals, where he'll face McAlester's Donald Cannon on Saturday.

"He fell behind early but never gave up," Jones said. "We won it in the last minute of the third period; that just shows you the kind of person Will is — a true fighter."

Tiger will be the only Sequoyah wrestler in the finals on the final day of the tournament. The Indians finished the first day of the tournament with 27 points, which had them in 14th place.

Leading the tournament after the first day was Jay with 128 points. The Bulldogs will have five wrestlers in the finals on Saturday: Jesse Hodge (113), Trestin January (120), Derick Shrum (132), Kaleb Reece (160) and Jeremiah Sirmans (170).

Wagoner with 125 pounds finished the first day in second place, while Sallisaw — coming off a first-place finish at the Paul Post Classic last weekend — was third with 123.5 points. McAlester (119.5) and Fort Gibson (105) rounded out the top five.

Squaring off against Reece in 160 finals on Saturday night will be Keys' Seth Fritts, who logged two wins by fall and a technical fall to reach the championship match. The Fritts-Reece showdown will be a rematch of the finals at the Inola tournament, where Fritts won the championship by technical fall.

With Fritts paving the way, Keys logged 32.5 points on Friday for 11th place. The Cougars fell short of two finalists when John Haeberle lost to Sallisaw's Gabe Taylor, 8-0, in the semifinals at 145 pounds.

"Overall, we did OK," Keys coach Travis Kirby said. "I feel like all my guys wrestled tough today. I'm hoping that (Saturday) they can all wrestle a little bit tougher and come back with some hardware."

Hulbert found itself in ninth place with 40 points at the conclusion of day one. Bryson McGowan (220) cruised into the finals with three wins by fall, including a win over Sallisaw's Bailey Carter in the semifinals at 1:29.

In the finals, McGowan will face McAlester's Riley Smith, who McGowan beat 7-0 in the semifinals at last year's Maverick Conference Tournament.

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