OKLAHOMA CITY — His arm was raised in the air. He then went to shake the hand of Wade Rogers, Pawhuska’s coach.
Sequoyah’s Will Tiger went through the regular motions after winning a match.
But this was a match unlike any other. It was Tiger’s chance to make history at Sequoyah.
That’s why Tiger went from shaking Rogers’ hand to embracing Sequoyah coach Brad Jones. Tiger became Sequoyah’s highest-ever finisher at the state tournament with a 2-1 decision victory over Pawhuska’s Taylor Priest in the 126-pound consolation finals on Saturday afternoon at State Fair Arena.
It wasn’t a state championship for a Sequoyah wrestler. But that didn’t matter; it was special nonetheless for Jones and Tiger.
“I’m glad he pushed me the whole year, so I can be where I’m at right now,” Tiger said of Jones. “And this is very special, because I the had the chance to set a record. And I ended up setting a few.”
For Jones, who had just completed his first full season as Sequoyah’s head coach, the moment when Tiger wrapped up third place was one he won’t soon forget.
“Words can’t explain what I’m feeling right now,” said Jones, who had to wipe away a tear when rehashing everything. “It’s one thing to go through this tournament as a competitor, but to watch a young man that you helped mold and you helped reach his dream, there’s no better feeling than that.”
For four minutes, Tiger’s bronze medal looked like it would end up in the hands of Priest, who led 1-0 going into the final period.
But, all Tiger needed to do was record an escape — like Priest did in the second — to knot things up at 1. Yet, he did one better than that — he managed a reversal.
Tiger notched his only two points early in the third period with a reversal, and he held on from there.
“I just had to keep pushing, keep pushing,” said Tiger, who lost in the championship semifinals, 4-3, to Madill’s Rio Zamora on Friday night. “I just had to make him tired and just hope that I came through in the end.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
Tiger’s third-place finish topped Chris Hummingbird’s fourth-place finish at the 2010 state tournament. And as a junior this year, Tiger — who reached the consolation finals with a 4-2 decision victory over Chandler’s Jake Braswell — will get one more year to come back and trump his own record.
And Jones is confident that Tiger — or another Sequoyah wrestler — is bound to win a state championship in the very near future.
“We set a precedent in the past and had the first guy place, and now we have a guy getting third place,” Jones said. “It’s going to keep getting better from here. And next year, I plan on bringing at least four guys, and hopefully next year we’re going to have a champion.”