The Collinsville varsity wrestlers have had a lot of success in tournaments, but are in a bit of a slump in the dual season. After some crucial losses against Coweta and Neosho, it seems as if it is a reloading year for the team. With the history behind the Collinsville wrestling program, the entire state should know you can never rule out Cardinal wrestlers. When the season seems to be sliding downhill, the Cards reignite their year with victory after victory. The program is once again in a peculiar position, where the fans wait to see what Coach Wes Harding and his Varsity athletes will do next. Will they take this as a building year, or will this season reignite and build on momentum to establish a year of domination yet again?
Traveling to Owasso, the 5A Cardinals challenged the 6A rams. Although 113 lb wrestler Eli Benham was out due to a leg injury, lineup adjustments were made and the Cards only had two empty holes. Collinsville also had 170 pounder, Logan Sieminski, on IR, but the dual was seemingly the healthiest the Cards have been all season. The dual had a major turnout, and both powerful teams were ready to leave it all on the matts.
Collinsville shot off the whistle fast! Garrett Strickland gave the Cards an early lead at 106lbs, after a strong win by major decision. That lead continued as Owasso made a quick lineup adjustment, giving Rocky Stevens a forfeit at 113lbs. Cody Francis at 120lbs, who was supposed to take the forfeit, had a surprise match to attend to. Owasso’s cleverness came to no avail as Francis gave the Cards their first victory by pin-fall for the night.
The Rams had not yet made the scoreboard, but the Cardinals were relentless. Caleb Tanner dominated his opponent at 126lbs. Tanner quickly won by technical fall with a score of 15-0. Then, another victory at 132lbs with Connor Henson pinning his opponent in the 1st period. The Collinsville crowd was excited. Owasso was nervous; the match was quickly slipping through their fingers. One of Owasso’s best wrestlers took the matts at 138lbs to take on Xavear Cullors for the Cardinals. Cullors wrestled an excruciatingly tough match for his team. Both wrestlers trading and evading shots. Fierce tie-ups lead to painful throws and takedowns. The final seconds on the clock were quickly disappearing as Cullors tailed by one. The Senior for Collinsville escaped his opponents grasp and tied up the match. Going into overtime, both wrestlers hung their heads exhausted. Cullors fell to an Overtime takedown and Owasso was finally on the board.
A major match to win for Owasso, they had a bit of momentum, but it did not last long. Kolten Allphen at 145lbs pinned a strong Owasso opponent in the first minute of the 2nd period. Dropping from 160lbs to 152lbs, Tony Connor switched weight classes to take on a challenging wrestler for the Rams. The fans got to see a little more of Connor Thursday night, as it was not his usual immediate pin in the first 30 seconds of the match. Connor was not his usual lightning-fast, aggressive self. Nevertheless, the Senior took complete control of his match and claimed victory by decision. “I felt slower from all the weight I was dropping, but we needed the win at this weight so I had to go out, drop the weight, and get the win.”
Blake Nation, moving up from 152lbs to 160lbs, had a much larger opponent to face. The senior did not wrestle to his full potential in a different weight class as well. Nation was overpowered in strength and size, but the Senior wrestler fought back. Nation trailed by 12 points, but fought off his back to avoid the pin, allowing Owasso to only receive 4 team points. Hayden Knight, filling in for Sieminski at 170lbs, also had a challenging match. Knight was taken down by an unlucky headlock early in the match. With his 170lbs opponent squeezing all his force around the Cardinal’s neck, striving to pin him, Knight fought in a bridge position for over a full minute. He eventually fell while trying to escape his opponent’s lethal pin-hold and was pinned. With the two victories over the Cards, the Rams received 10 team points and then another 12, after two forfeits given by Collinsville at 185lbs and 195lbs. Then claiming another 6 points at 220lbs against Zach Morris.
It all came down to heavy-weight. Collinsville lead by six with a score of 37-31. If the 6A Owasso rams could pin Collinsville’s freshman heavy-weight, Kaden Jones, they would tie the duel and steal away all victory from the Cardinals. An immense pressure over the two HWTs as the entire night hung in the six minutes of their battle on the matts. The whistle sounded and both athletes started out fierce. Hand fighting, smacking, and aggressive tie-ups, started the most important match of the night. The Freshman Cardinal could lose in anyway except by pin fall. Kaden Jones shocked the crowd and threw everyone from their seats as he flipped his HWT opponent into a powerful headlock. His Owasso opponent was immediately pinned and six points were awarded to Collinsville.
The 5A Cardinals claimed victor against the 6A Rams. The Freshman HWT, Kaden Jones, saved the night for Collinsville. “It is nerve-racking going in as a freshman heavyweight,” Jones stated. “But you know, you can’t worry. Just got to go out there and wrestle.”
The season is reignited for the Collinsville Varsity Duel Team. Shortly after their victory, the Cards built on their momentum as they sent five wrestlers to the finals in the renown Sand Springs Tournament. Rocky Stevens, Caleb Tanner, Xavear Cullors, Kolten Allphen and Tony Connor all claimed massive victories there. The Cards are on a roll as the season is coming to a climax. If the varsity team continues to be healthy, there may be much victory lying ahead for these Cardinals.
Highlight video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwPjZOT_-hQ&feature=youtu.be