CHOCTAW — Norman High hoped to earn a trip to dual state with Tuesday’s visit to Choctaw for dual regionals.
The Tigers fell short of that goal, but that doesn’t mean it was an empty trip. Far from it, in fact. Instead, Coach Bo Maynes saw the continued progression from his wrestlers that he was looking for, an encouraging sign heading into a difficult weekend.
“That’s the best thing, if you’re a coach, to see them take what you preach in practice and apply it,” he said. “We didn’t win today, but we did a lot of good things.”
Westmoore took the dual state invite after sweeping NHS, Choctaw and Putnam City at the event. The Jags move on to compete in the Dual State tournament on Feb. 9 in Claremore.
NHS opened the meet with a showdown with Westmoore that came down to the final match, one that the Jags won to walk away with a 39-37 victory. NHS responded with a lopsided 48-21 win over Choctaw, a squad the Tigers lost to a year ago at dual regionals. They ended the day with another dual decided in the final match, a 32-31 loss to Putnam City.
“It was a good dual and really close with Westmoore,” junior Cale Stumpff said shortly before taking the mat against Putnam City’s Jacob Radford and using a late takedown in the third period to win 7-2 and give NHS a lead it wouldn’t
relinquish until the final match. “Overall, it went pretty well today for us.”
Wrestling without three of its usual lineup due to illness and injury, NHS came closer to a dual state invite than ever before, and Maynes expects that momentum to carry on into Friday’s tournament at Yukon, the toughest event outside of state the Tigers will compete in this season.
“We wrestled really well today,” Maynes said. “We were here, but we were here without our best team. Even so, I saw a lot of progression from everyone today.”
It’s a trend that began with last weekend’s tournament in Salina, Kan., one that NHS finished in fourth place. At that event, the Tigers began to take steps in the most important area of the sport: the mental aspect.
“They got over the hump last weekend mentally,” Maynes said after the event. “And they continued that today. They stopped making some of the stupid mistakes technically and began to apply what we’ve been teaching, and you can see the difference it makes.”
When the Tigers take to the mat in Yukon on Friday, they’ll compete in what Maynes called “a bear of a tournament,” featuring 28 of the best squads from Class 4A, 5A and 6A. With about a month to go until regionals begin, the tournament represents an opportunity for NHS to find its form against the best competition before gearing up for the postseason.
“This was encouraging going into the Yukon tournament,” Maynes said. “They know how tough that tournament this weekend will be, and they embrace that.”
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