The best wrestlers in the state of Oklahoma will descend upon Oklahoma City today and Saturday with one goal in mind: stand atop the podium on Saturday night as a state champion.
And this year's state tournament should offer up some great drama. After all, 38 wrestlers who won state titles in 2013 are back to try to defend their crowns this season.
However, there's guaranteed to be fewer than 38 repeat as champions, mainly because the 160-pound field in Class 6A features two reigning state champs — Bartlesville's Michael Hamilton and Norman North's Levi Berry — and neither one are No. 1 seeds in the 160 bracket. Those honors go to Muskogee's Jacobe Smith and Edmond North's Zach Walton.
Bottom line, there will be storylines all over the place at State Fair Arena. And who benefits from all of that? Wrestling fans and the wrestling community as a whole.
Now it's time to get to some predictions (and random thoughts):
- Stillwater wins the Class 6A crown: The best barometer I can find to go by for the 6A state tournament is how Stillwater, Broken Arrow and Edmond North ended up at the Bobby Lyons Invitational in Sand Springs in mid January. Broken Arrow beat Stillwater by half a point for the team crown, but with more teams in the mix, I think I'll go with Stillwater to barely overcome Broken Arrow in the end. And I realize that Stillwater lost the regional crown to Broken Arrow last week, but I have confidence in Andrew Nieman (106 pounds), Kaid Brock (132), Tristan Moran (138), Joe Smith (145), Chandler Rogers (170) and Jordan Dieringer (182) to lead the Pioneers to a team title. (Full disclosure: I won't take Dieringer to pick up a crown at 182, with Edmond North's Joel Dixon lurking.)
- Time to pay attention to Sand Springs: While it's easy to get caught up talking about Broken Arrow, Stillwater or Edmond North in Class 6A, it's time we start noticing Sand Springs. The Sandites will be in the hunt for fourth place at the state tournament, and they'll be doing so without a single senior at the state tournament. Freshman Daton Fix (113) is a machine and Cody Karstetter (126) is solid and both will be back next year to likely have Sand Springs in more championship discussions.