MOORE — Hayden Hansen remembers what happened to him at state last year. As a sophomore, the Norman North grappler fell in the title match 5-4.
Hansen has used the pain of that loss to propel him throughout the season. That carried over into this weekend where he used it Saturday to win the 6A-West Regional Championship at Southmoore.
“It runs through my mind almost everyday,” Hansen said of his defeat at state. “It propels me. I like the pressure. I like stuff like that. It makes me wrestle better, gets me excited. The bigger the match, the better.”
In the finals, Hansen (41-1) faced Jordan Prince of Edmond North. The two were tied 4-4 going into the third period. Hansen got a reversal with 1:10 left to take a two-point advantage.
That was all he needed. He rode Prince out the rest of the period to secure the 6-4 victory.
“The key was just getting into my offense, scoring at all times and looking to put things away,” Hansen said. “I knew it would be a tough ride. I knew what to look for when I was on top. Just do a safe ride.”
Edmond North easily won the overall team championship with 258 points. Yukon was second with 186. North (143), Mustang (133), Southmoore (132) and Norman High (97) rounded out the top-six.
The Timberwolves had hoped to see Hansen’s teammate, Levi Berry, also take home a first-place medal when he took on another Edmond North grappler in Zach Walton.
Berry trailed 2-1 heading into third before he gave up a quick two points and found himself down 4-1 to Walton.
Berry got an escape with 1:25 left to close to within two. He then took Walton down and the match was tied at 4-4 with momentum on Berry’s side.
But Walton got an escape with 42 seconds left in the period. Berry couldn’t come up with a takedown and lost 5-4.
With the top-four at each weight advancing to state, Berry still has a shot to defend his 160-pound state title from last season.
T-Wolves Sam Avant, Blake Bassham and Gage Johnson will join Hansen and Berry at state. Daniel Mbainyel, Lane Stephens and Isaiah Davis will represent Norman High.
Besides Hansen, no other area wrestler won a regional title. Moore’s McKale Washington came the closest when he and Putnam City North’s Velijah Cato had to go into overtime to decide a winner.
With 1:27 left in the second period and trailing 2-1, Cato picked up Washington and slammed him on his left wrist, which was already heavily taped. He was forced to take a medical timeout.
Washington regrouped and got back into the action. He held onto his one-point advantage into the third period. He chose to start out on the top position and rode Cato for 1:50. But with 10 seconds left, Cato got an escape to tie match and send it into overtime.
The two batted to a stalemate through two extra periods. In the final seconds of the third overtime, Cato took a 3-2 advantage. Washington had only eight seconds to get a take down and was unable to do so and lost 4-2
Along with Washington, the Lions are sending four other wrestlers to next week’s state championships. Justin Gundlach, Clayton Selznoff, Colby Moore and Kyle Peterman were all in the consolation finals.
Westmoore’s Wes Hardin and Dalton Duffield are also heading to state.
The biggest upset of the tournament took place during the semifinals late Friday night. No. 1 seed Nathan Marek was tossed from the tournament after he was called for throwing a punch against Edmond Memorial’s Tristan McBee, who had went for a takedown after the whistle had blown 34 seconds into the first period. Even though it looked like Marek had just pushed McBee off him, the ref stood by his call and disqualified him.
The disqualification ended Marek’s high school career with one state title, which came as a sophomore. He has signed to wrestle at Oklahoma next season.
Southmoore coach Gregory George had no comment on the decision by the refs or the OSSAA.
Despite the loss of Marek, the SaberCats still will put wrestlers into the state tourney. They include Giovanni Martinez, Conor Dooling, Drake Hodges, Zach Moore, Jacobe Walker and Bryan Trompeter.
“I thought we did really well overall,” George said. “We got six guys in the tournament. I was real happy with our effort. For a lot of guys, this is the first time going to the tournament. I always want more. I’m not satisfied, but I’m not unhappy either.”
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