By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Oklahoma Outlaws saw their dominating win-streak come to an end at the hands of California Thursday morning. The back-and-forth battle was decided by the final match and the Sunshine State came out on top 35-32.
California took the lead right off the bat with an 11-0 tech fall by Andrew Cervantez over Ezequiel Rubio (Ponca City) and a 1:05 pin of State Champion Nick Mahan (Lawton) by Flo World Champion and No. 10 nationally ranked Anthony Mantanona. The Outlaws retaliated with an 11-0 tech of Juan Rosales by State Champ Dan Baker (Sulphur) and a 1:58 pin of Bonifacio Escobar by State Champ Bear Hughes (Coweta) to tie things up, but California quickly regained the edge.
Cristian Ayala, who placed fifth in Fargo last year, pinned State Champ Zach Marcheselli (Broken Arrow) in 0:31 and Flo Worlds Champion Gavin Nye pinned State Runner-Up Gage Johnson (Norman North) in 0:46 for a 19-9 advantage. Southern Plains Champ Alex Fields (Crescent) dealt Moises Duran a 12-0 tech fall, Eric Sanchez paid it back with an 18-7 tech over State Champ Wyatt Adams of MacArthur.
Oklahoma won the next four straight matches and still had two of their strongest competitors ahead of them and it looked like it would be a clear surge to victory, but California pulled off some surprising upsets for the win.
Alec McDoulett (Little Axe) defeated Oscar Nellis by way of 8-2 decision and National Champion Dalton Duffield (Westmoore) pinned Mason Hartshorn in 0:32. State Champs Jet Taylor (Sallisaw) and Jacob Butler (Elgin) each scored 13-2 tech falls over Chase Zollman and National Champion Patrick Ramirez, respectively. Sitting at a 30-26 lead with State Champions Jaxen Gilmore (Yukon) and Brik Filippo (Tuttle) up next, it seemed like Oklahoma was on the cusp of victory.
Unfortunately for the host team, California had some talent left of their own. Flo Worlds Runner-Up Jaden Enriquez got the 4-3 edge over Gilmore. Filippo hadn't lost a match yet in the tournament, but he met his match in Cadet Greco National Champion Peyton Omania with a 12-0 tech fall. The pressure was on Sand Springs's Payton Scott, but Joshua Kim went the distance for a 7-4 decision to pull of the come-from-behind win.
Up next for Oklahoma is Team Florida who placed second in Pool B behind Illinois and just lost 47-22 to the top-seeded Minnesota Blue. Florida boasts some big guns in No. 16 nationally ranked Anthony Artalona, Southeast Regional Champion Malyke Hines, Southeast Regional Champion Luis Hernandez, National Champion Anthony Artalona, and National Champion Max Wohlabaugh.