The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

March 1, 2014

Title bout eludes area grapplers

NORMAN — OKLAHOMA CITY – The gap between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat can be quite thin, particularly where the sport of wrestling is concerned.

The latter was all too familiar Friday at State Fair Arena, at least as far as the seven area schools competing in the 93rd Oklahoma High School Wrestling Championships were concerned.

The seven schools brought 25 wrestlers to the sport’s biggest stage for Oklahoma high school grapplers. And by the end of a morning, afternoon and evening of wrestling, none of the 25 was able to score back-to-back wins and punch a ticket into a state championship match tonight.

Norman North’s disappointment may be the toughest, with the Timberwolves returning a multiple state champion in Levi Berry and a pair of state finalists from last year in Blake Bassham and Hayden Hansen, but coming up empty in their bid for another title.

Berry, forced into perhaps a tougher road to the finals by finishing second at last week’s regional tournament, dropped a 3-1 decision to Muskogee’s Jacobe Smith in the semifinals.

Berry was a state champion at Tuttle before transferring to North, where he captured a state title as a junior last year.

Hansen came in with a 41-1 record and off a regional championship at 145 pounds, but had to run a gauntlet of former state champions, placers and qualifiers to get back to the title match for a second straight year.

He dusted off Owasso’s Grant Williams 20-5 in the opening round but dropped a 3-1 decision in the semifinals to defending 145-pound champion Tanner Bailey of Broken Arrow. Had he won there, Stillwater’s undefeated Joe Smith was waiting next.

Bassham, a state finalist last year at 145, split a pair of matches at 152, eliminating top seed Velijah Cato of Putnam North 5-2 in the consolations to stay alive into today.

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