By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
It was another dominating win Thursday evening at the Ed Dubie Field House as the No. 1 ranked Sand Springs Sandites (3-0) continued their undefeated start to the season with their second-straight win over a top-ten team. The tenth-ranked Stillwater Pioneers (3-2) boast an impressive roster of powerful wrestlers, but it wasn't enough to stop the tidal wave that is the nationally recognized Charles Page team. Sand Springs, which is ranked 17th in the country by FloWrestling, rolled to a 59-9 victory with only two losses. The junior high team also prevailed 45-21 over Stillwater.
The Sandites started off with a 6-0 lead as Riley Weir (12-4 season, 33-16 career) received a forfeit at 106 pounds. Senior State-qualifier Tanner Ward (11-4, 87-16) took on Skylar Lancaster at 113 and made quick work of his opponent. He was working on a pin when the first period expired and had to settle for near-fall points. Lancaster started the second period neutral, trailing 7-1, setting Ward up for a takedown and pin at the 3:19 mark.
Stillwater forfeited the 120 and 126 pound weight classes to Michael Ritchey (11-5, 40-29) and Blake Sargent (12-4, 64-18), respectively, giving the Sandites a 24-0 lead. Sophomore Irwin Portillo (1-0, 4-3) made his season debut at 132 and picked up a huge win over John Ritchey. It was a close match, but Portillo led 2-1 after the first period and never trailed. He held off his Stillwater challenger throughout the third period and prevailed 8-5 for a 27-0 team score.
Oklahoma State University-signed senior Daton Fix (15-0, 133-0) continued his undefeated career with a incredible win at 138 pounds. Stillwater's Tyler Dieringer is no joke of an athlete. The three-time State-qualifier and two-time State placer went a combined 66-27 over the last two seasons, but Fix worked him over just like everyone else the Sandite stud takes on for a technical fall in only 4:25. Dieringer started out tough and only trailed 4-1 after the first period, but gave up eight takedowns in the second period and ultimately lost 26-11.
Beau Bratcher (12-3, 103-26) drew a tough opponent in two-time Louisiana State Champion, one-time Oklahoma State-placer Kendon Lee and suffered his third loss of the season. Bratcher defeated Lee 4-2 last year for the Regional Title and 7-2 at Perry, but Lee dealt Bratcher a 4-2 loss in sudden victory last month at the Kansas City Stampede. This time around the pair were once again perfectly matched. The duo entered the third period tied 0-0 and Lee chose bottom to start. Bratcher had to cut Lee loose immediately and went to work looking for points. Instead it was Lee who padded his lead with a minute left. Bratcher got the reversal with ten seconds left and cut Lee loose again, but was unable to take the lead and fell 4-2.
The Pioneers had put their first points on the board, but were behind 32-3 with seven matches to go. At 152 pounds Payton Scott (14-1, 35-9) made easy work of Parker Nichols, building a 6-2 lead before pinning the Pioneer in 1:41. Trailing 38-3, the Pioneers would need to win every single match by fall to win the dual.
One match where the Pioneers were likely to put up points was 152 pound State-qualifier Connor Wilcoxen versus sophomore Noah Almy (8-7), but the first-year starter had other plans. Almy hasn't had much varsity experience yet, but he's undefeated in duals and made sure to remain that way in a nail bitter overtime performance. The duo ended the first period scoreless and each scored a single escape point in the following periods. The sudden victory round ended scoreless and both wrestlers scored a single escape point in the tie-breaker rounds. Tied up 2-2, Almy started the first ultimate tie-breaker round on top. Wilcoxen was like an angry bull, doing anything he could to try and get Almy off, and had a few close calls where he nearly won it. But the Sandite was resilient and got the win after a frustrated Wilcoxen accidentally kicked Almy in the head and lost on a penalty.
The dual was officially locked up in the Sandites' favor by this point, but there were still matches left to wrestle. The Pioneers managed to cut into the deficit a little bit with a 1:09 pin by State Champion Christian Bahl over Mikey Burns (0-1) at 170, but their second match win would be their last match win.
At 182 sophomore Luke Bratcher (2-0) took a quick 5-2 lead over Jakob Ogden after the first period and held on for an 8-2 decision.
Freshman Hayden Cramer (1-1) picked up his first win of his high school career at 195, and he went the distance to do it. After a scoreless first period, Cramer took a 1-0 lead over Aaron Veselak with an escape to start the second. Veselak did the same to start the third and caught Cramer by the leg. The Sandite was hobbling on a single leg for nearly thirty seconds before he managed to escape off the edge of the mat. Veselak was unable to catch him off guard again, and they went into sudden victory. With three seconds left Cramer got the takedown for the 3-1 victory.
Gage Fain (11-4, 24-26) got to wrestle close to his own weight for once, and it made a world of difference. The 207 pound junior has wrestled at 285 this entire season and 80% of last season due to the lack of a true heavyweight for the Sandites. Used to far heavier competitors, Fain easily took down Mason Fedderson ten seconds in and pinned the Pioneer in 0:23.
This time Delvin Jordan (14-1, 45-13) took the heavyweight position, giving up 63 pounds to his competitor, but the All-State linebacker had no problem in continuing his pinning streak. Jordan took a 4-1 lead before recording his twelfth pin of the season in 1:21. His average match has lasted a mere 2:08 so far this season.
The Sandites will return to action with another top-tier competition at the 73rd Annual Geary Invitational. Geary is the country's oldest high school wrestling tournament and will pit the Sandites against the toughest competitors in the country. The No. 17 nationally ranked Sandites will be joined by No. 18 Choctaw, No. 11 Tuttle, and No. 1 Blair Academy. The top-ranked team in the nation will be making the pilgrimage from New Jersey to defend their back-to-back Geary Titles. The Sandites placed fifth at Geary last year.