OKLAHOMA CITY — Few had challenged Hulbert’s Bryson McGowan this season. The junior 220-pounder was 29-0 heading into the Class 3A state tournament and 31-0 prior to the championship match with Davis’ Braden Ruth.
McGowan returned home with one loss and a less-desirable silver medal.
“At a loss for words,” said McGowan, who lost by fall at 1:01 at State Fair Arena on Saturday night.
McGowan — while trying to fight back tears of disappointment — tried to sum up what happened against Ruth, who collected his third state championship in four attempts.
“He caught me in a cradle,” said McGowan, who was taken down early in the first period and was unable to elude Ruth’s grasp while trying to escape.
McGowan — who finished third at the 3A state tournament at 195 pounds in 2013 — entered the state tournament with four tournament titles to his credit. He won crowns at the Inola, Pawhuska and Maverick Conference tournaments before claiming a regional title the week prior to the state tournament.
The state championship just wasn’t meant to be, though.
“It’s still an accomplishment,” McGowan said of second place. “It’s just not what I wanted.”
Hulbert coach Mickey McGowan tried to put things in perspective for Bryson.
“I’ll say this, he’s had a fantastic season, and people would relish that,” Mickey McGowan said. “The last three seasons he’s had...he’s just a great kid, a hard worker. We’ll go back and take a little time off, and we’ll get back to work with it and see if we can’t come back and win one next year.”
Sellers falls short against Steltzlen
Only one thing stood between Collinsville’s Will Steltzlen and a fourth state championship: Tahlequah’s Mitch Sellers.
However, when time expired during Saturday’s 145-pound final, Steltzlen joined the state’s most elite club of four-time state champions after posting a 3-1 win over Sellers.
“He’s a good wrestler, and it was a good match — a very tough match,” Sellers said. “It’s not the way I wanted to go out, but I’m happy with my performance and the way I performed in the finals even though I didn’t get it done.”
Steltzlen opened things up with a takedown in the first period and never let Sellers take him to the mat at any point. Then, both Sellers and Steltzlen traded escapes for the final score.
For Sellers, the second-place finish was an improvement on his fourth-place showing in 2013.
“Just to get back up on the podium for a third time is a blessing,” Sellers said. “I’m glad I got runner-up, but I would have liked to win it. But I’ll take what I can get.”
Sellers beat Del City’s Gavin Millhouse (2-0) and Pryor’s Kelvin Grubbs (4-3) to reach the finals. Sellers atoned for a one-point loss to Grubbs in the regional semifinals, which forced Sellers to wrestle for third at the regional tournament.
Sellers finished his senior season 33-4.