By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Bo Maynes remembers it this way.
“One dual. Two duals. Four duals,” he said. “Six duals, this year.”
You have to like a coach who views the wrestling season through the lens of victorious duals. It is, after all, the best measure of team success. Also, you have to appreciate Maynes and his Norman High history.
He was six years removed from four seasons under Oklahoma wrestling coach Jack Spates when he took over the Tiger program five years ago. That first season, he had eight seniors. That second season, they were gone and the program was left to start over.
His second year in the NHS wrestling room was the program’s ground zero. It’s where it all began again. It is the starting point of where the Tigers find themselves today, sending four grapplers into the Class 6A brackets at the state wrestling tournament at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
The list includes a couple seniors in Derek Ross (113 pounds) and Colin Pasque (138) and a couple juniors in Cael Stumpff (195) and Nigel Jolliffie (106).
Nobody can remember the last time the Tigers sent four to the state tournament. And, says, Maynes, they thought they could get five. And two more placed at regionals. So maybe next year they get four or five.
Whatever, the story’s clear.
The Tigers have come back.
None are supposed to win state titles. Then again, you never know and everybody could place. The Tigers are a working man’s grappling program.
“This has been the year we’re seeing a lot of the results,” Maynes said. “You reap what you sow.”
Everybody feels like they’re a part of something that’s been getting better the last four years and will continue to get better for years to come.
Ross, who wants to wrestle in college but doesn’t know if he’ll get the chance, is certain about the program’s future, on one condition.
“Maynes has really put this program together,” he said. “Without him, it wouldn’t feel like a family the way he’s made it. It’s always going to get better with Maynes here.”
Pasque, the other senior, knows this is it for him. Wrestling has his heart, but pole vaulting will claim his athletic future just as soon as Saturday’s complete, through the spring and beyond.
“I tried it and it was so fun,” he said.
Still, whatever happens today and Saturday, Pasque will be leaving with a strange feeling, one masses of senior wrestlers feel every year, finished with the rare 24/7 sport.
“It’s crazy that it’s all coming to an end this weekend, but it’s a fun place to end it. I’m really happy I’ve made it again,” Pasque said. “This will be it for me, so these are my last couple of days in the wrestling room. These are my last couple of days to wrestle competitively.”
Knowing what he helped build must help.
“It’s been really good to watch the program develop,” Pasque said. “I know that I’m leaving it in a good place and I know that the guys here will be taking on leadership roles next year.”
Stumpff qualified third.
“Last year, we sent two,” he said. “This year, four. That’s amazing.”
Every one is so invested in the program. Even Jolliffie, who’s an interesting story.
A Detroit native and resident almost until his 15th birthday, he spent his sophomore year in Florida, where he first took up the sport.
Now he’s a Tiger.
He wasn’t around for “One dual, two duals, four duals.” Only “Six duals.” Yet Maynes believes he fits right in with the rest.
“What they have in common is that they’ve bought into the program. They’ve bought into the idea of working smart, working hard, that we need to come together and unite as a team,” he said. “When we’re here (in the wrestling room), we come in and work smart and work hard and we get out of here. They all have that in common. They are warriors on the mat. The all have a lot of heart. They hate losing.”
He was just getting started.
“We have something special going on here at Norman High and I really believe that,” Maynes said. “That is the idea of honor, respect, doing you’re best and being a family,” he said. “And when you feel like you’re a part of something, then you’re willing to work hard for what you’re a part of and they’ve bought into that.
“These guys are my family. I sincerely believe that.”
Today, the Tiger family’s sending four to the state tournament.
Follow me @clayhorning
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