The Norman Transcript

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February 14, 2014

Tough field awaits Southmoore at dual state

MOORE — Southmoore’s history at Dual State is a short read. The totality of it is a first-round loss to eventual runner-up Muskogee by one point in last year’s tournament.

However, in that brief appearance, the SaberCats learned what it takes to not only advance through the field, but also take home a state championship.

“You have to win the matchups where you can win,” Southmoore coach Gregory George said. “You need to get bonus points and you can’t give up bonus points. You can’t have your average kids give up a fall (pin). And your studs have to get falls. If we can get a couple of our really good kids to get a couple of falls and keep our average kids from not getting pinned, that’s where we will win the dual.”

The fifth-ranked SaberCats will put that plan to the test today. They’re the lone area representative competing at the 2014 Dual 6A Team Wrestling Championships at Yukon High.

The Cats (9-0) face No. 3 Broken Arrow (8-1) in the first round at noon Saturday. Southmoore hasn’t   been to a single dual or tournament with BA. So both teams head into the contest blind. The winner will move to the semifinals at 2:15. The championship match is set for 6:30 p.m.

This is the first year dual state will be held on one day instead of split into two. It’s something George likes since is team competes in competitions often where they will wrestle that many times in a single day.

“I really do like that,” George said. “It’s only three duals. We do three duals all the time in one day. When we go to dual tournaments. We will do up to five duals in one day. I like the one-day format. The crowds are better. People don’t feel as ripped off driving across the state. And you get to see all the good teams at one time.”

Along with Southmoore and BA, the field includes No. 2 Edmond North (9-0), No. 7 Muskogee (6-3), No. 1 Stillwater (17-0), No. 8 Midwest City (4-5), No. 4 Yukon (5-1) and No. 6 Tulsa Union (7-5).

“We have a really good team,” George said. “Fortunately, unfortunately, however you want to look at it, Oklahoma has a lot of highly ranked teams this year. Probably more than Oklahoma has had in 50 years. Every team there is really good. There is not a weak team at Dual State.”

Most of the teams competing have wrestlers who are destined to wrestle at the Division I college level. That includes Southmoore’s Nathan Marek (39-1), who has signed with Oklahoma.

“Conservatively, there are 11 to 13 Division I wrestlers in class 6A this year,” George said. “Normally there is two per year, which makes for a really strong  field. If I had this team last year or maybe next year, we could probably be state champions. This year, it’s going to be tough just because everyone else is so strong also.”

But the title won’t be won by one wrestler. It will take an entire team. The SaberCats have a solid roster of grapplers who may not get the same attention as Marek, but have been just as pivotal to the team’s success. They include Drake Hodges (39-5), Ty Jackson (30-11), Gio Martinez (27-8), Zac Moore (32-6), Conor Dooling (32-8) and Jakobe Walker (25-10).

“Sometimes these kids get a little bit overshadowed because Nathan is Nathan,” George said. “Nathan is a great kid, but some of these guys deserve just as much recognition. He is a true D-I wrestler. And these guys are all great. They are wonderful kids. They deserve recognition, too. We have a lot of kids who’ve done a lot of good things. It’s just had for them sometimes to be seen.

“We have a very good team, but so is everybody else. It will be a dog fight. Anything can happen.”

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