Story and photo by: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
Charles Page High School junior Michael Ritchey (22-17) won his first 6A East Regional Championship with a pair of close decisions Saturday night at Broken Arrow. The Sandite narrowly overcame Shawn Tillman (Muskogee) 1-0 in round one, but then pulled off his first technical fall of the season 17-2 in 5:59 over Caron Watson (Union). In the finals he was pitted against Broken Arrow's Tyler Lawley and triumphed 3-1.
Before this year Ritchey's only experience on the varsity mat was the Jerry Billings Tournament and the Jay Hancock Memorial Invitational his sophomore year where he placed 5th and 6th respectively.
This year he made his dual debut with a 3-0 decision over Owasso's Wyatt Johnson and followed it up with a 5th place performance at the Perry Tournament of Champions where he only lost two matches. Both were to the same opponent, a highly ranked Kansas wrestler.
From there he placed 4th at both the Bobby Lyons Tournament and the Jay Hancock Memorial before winning his first tournament at Regionals.
His first round at State will be against Westmoore's #3 Wes Hardin (30-11). From there he will take on either #7 Spencer Schickram (14-7) or #2 Conner Holman (36-6).
Ritchey narrowly defeated Schickram 7-5 at the Ponca City dual and narrowly lost 6-4 to Holman during the Dual State Championship dual against Choctaw. Either of those matches could easily go either way.
Other contenders include #1 Paxton Rosen (40-2) who's been having a remarkable season with Edmond North. Ritchey defeated Rosen 14-11 last May at the OK USA Freestyle State Tournament, but so far as scholastic wrestling goes, it's Rosen with the 2-0 record. Rosen defeated Ritchey 9-3 at Geary, then became the only foe to tech fall the Sandite when he won 15-0 at the Yukon tournament.
Ritchey has a 2-0 record against #8 Chase Slatton (31-14) of Jenks with close decisions of 5-1 at Yukon and 9-8 during the final regular season dual. Ritchey beat #5 Tyler Lawley (22-11) at Regionals, but has yet to meet #6 Taylor Holman (31-10) of Midwest City.