The Norman Transcript

February 24, 2013

Berry’s long wait ends with state championship for Timberwolves

By Christian Potts
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — Rosemary Berry stood in the top row of State Fair Arena, saying a few prayers and hanging on every move and every second as her son wrestled for a state championship below.

She didn’t have anything to worry about.

Norman North junior Levi Berry decisively handled Ponca City’s Brannon Hunt, 14-5, to claim the school’s third individual state championship and wrap up two weeks of his life he’ll never forget.

Berry, a state champion as a freshman and state runner-up as a sophomore at Tuttle, didn’t wrestle the entire regular season because of a question about his residency after his transfer to North. And it wasn’t until the week of the regional tournament that he was officially cleared to compete.

Two weekends later, he was back on top of the podium in the Big House as Class 6A’s 160-pound champion.

“I’m just so excited to be back on the mat,” Berry said. “There were people who were saying I couldn’t do it in 6A and now that I have, it’s phenomenal.”

After surviving a close semifinal Friday against Bixby’s Mason Thompson, Berry controlled things throughout against Hunt, scoring all four of the takedowns in the match and really never was in danger.

He spread around a lot of credit for keeping in shape during his non-season, from Coach Greg Henning’s encouragement to several teammates who worked him hard in the North wrestling room on a daily basis. Berry was there every time North wrestled this season, supporting and encouraging his teammates.

Even in doing what he had, the lack of outside competition made this a tough scenario, even if it made tournament days during the regular season a little less stressful for Mom.

“It’s such a disadvantage, because no matter what you are doing to stay in shape it isn’t going to feel like it is in a match,” Berry said.

And Rosemary Berry also had some praise to spread to North Principal Bryan Young for his efforts working with the OSSAA to clear up her son’s eligibility question.

“Mr. Young worked so hard. It’s really, really good to see a principal care about doing the right thing for the kid,” she said.

Berry was one of three finalists for North.

Sophomore Hayden Hansen wrestled one of the night’s most competitive matches at 126 and had all the late momentum going against Union’s Luke Wolfenbarger. Hansen scored two third-period takedowns and nearly had Wolfenbarger down a third time, but the Redskin junior hung on and claimed a 5-4 victory. Hansen finished with a team-high in wins with a 42-2 record.

North junior Blake Bassham had won two consecutive matches against higher-seeded wrestlers to reach the finals, but fell behind 9-2 before being pinned seconds before the end of the second period by Broken Arrow’s Tanner Bailey, who won all three of his matches by pinfall this weekend. Bassham finished the season 35-8.

The trio pushed North all the way to a fourth-place finish in the 6A team competition, which was won by Edmond North. And perhaps the best news of all for Henning is all three of his state placers, plus several other good hands, will be back next season.

“We want to start putting Norman North wrestling on the map,” Berry said. “This is the start of a new era here.”

 

NHS:NHS enjoyed its best season in many years in terms of qualifying wrestlers for the state tournament, with four Tigers making the field. Unfortunately, only senior Colin Pasque at 138 managed to win a match, reaching the consolation semifinals before bowing out.

Senior Derek Ross and juniors Nigel Jolliffie and Cael Stumpff reached the tournament but were ousted Friday.

 

Westmoore:While, freshman Dalton Duffield burst on the scene with a state championship in his first season, his teammates had a tougher time.

His teammate John Finn came agonizingly close to matching him at 220, but fell to Edmond North’s Andrew Dixon 1-0.

Keaton Randall also placed fourth for the Jaguars at 126, while Shane Rogers won a match but failed to place at 152.

 

Moore:The Lions got points from all four of their wrestlers in the tournament, with senior Derek Sivertsen making it to the championship match at 182 but falling to Edmond North’s Lance Dixon, 11-3.

McKale Washington placed fourth for the Lions at 152, while Josh Lindsey and Colby Moates each won matches on the weekend but failed to place.

 

Southmoore:Nathan Marek came into the weekend as the defending state champion at 170 for the SaberCats and looked to be on his way to another title after easily winning his first two matches.

But Edmond North’s Derek White had other plans, upsetting Marek 6-4 for the title in a rematch of last week’s regional final, which Marek had won 6-0. Marek, a junior, finished the season 44-3.

Southmoore’s Conor Dooling at 113 and Zac Damico at 120 both reached the semifinals before falling. Damico eventually wound up placing fourth, while Dooling, Zac Moore and Jakoby Walker failed to place.

 

Noble:The Bears placed five wrestlers into the Class 5A tournament, but all fell in their first-round matches Friday. Two, Trevor Symes at 106 and Tristan Rabe at 138, won matches in the consolation round but did not place.

The good news for Noble is four of their qualifiers — juniors Dakota Boxwell and Rabe, sophomore Shelby Greeson and freshman Symes — will be back for another crack at it next year. Only senior J.E. Bailey had his last go-round as a high-schooler.

 

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.