By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — When Class 6A Dual State begins today at Claremore, eight teams will begin grappling on four different mats. And one school district will be represented by two different programs.
In the top half of the bracket, there is Westmoore and in the bottom half, there is Southmoore. The latter will be making its first appearance at the annual event.
“It’s just like making it to the semifinals of football or anything else,” Southmoore coach Greg George said. “You are in the state championships. There are 25 to 30 others teams that would love to be out there with you. We just happened to be lucky enough to be one of the teams to go.”
But that doesn’t mean the Cats are just going to be happy showing up. They have higher aspirations.
“It’s an honor to be there,” Southmoore’s Drake Hodges said. “It’s pretty exciting. I think the team is pretty pumped for it. We all have the mindset that we can come in there the first time and take it all.”
Dual State for Class 5A and 6A will be held at Claremoore High School. The quarterfinal round starts at 10 a.m. The Jaguars will face Tulsa Union and the SaberCats will take on Muskogee.
The winners will advance to the semifinals at 2 p.m. The championship match is set for 6:30 p.m.
“We’ve trained really, really hard. We are pretty much as healthy as we’ve been all year. The kids have worked hard. We’ve done what we need to do. Now we just have to mentally get in there and take care of business.”
In the past, the championships have been split over two days. But this year, it’s all taking place in day. The winning team will have to win three matches in 10 hours.
Both Southmoore and Westmoore head into Dual State with some of the top wrestlers in the area on their rosters.
They include Dalton Duffield, Soloman Vanover and John Finn for the Jags and Conor Dooling, Zac Damico and Nathan Marek for the SaberCats.
Southmoore comes into the tourney as the No. 2 seed out of the West. Westmoore is No. 4. Edmond North and Broken Arrow are the top two teams in the tournament.
But the SaberCats believe they have the edge in at least one area that will give them an edge against any team they face.
“Conditioning,” George said. “Our kids are in really good shape. That’s what we always strive for. Try to beat you in the third period. Work harder than everybody else. We may not have more talent, but we will definitely outwork you.”
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