Tony Connor had to watch his Collinsville teammates finish second at last year’s state tournament. So this year he returned from a knee injury that kept him out last year, and he helped the Cardinals finish atop the 5A field at the state tournament.
Connor knocked off El Reno’s Kord LaFoe, 4-2, in the 152 finals to cap his varsity wrestling career.
“He was out all of last year after blowing out his knee in the preseason,” Collinsville coach Wes Harding said. “This year he just kept getting better as the year went on.”
Connor wasn’t alone atop the medal podium. A pair of Collinsville sophomores, Rocky Stephens (113) and Caleb Tanner (126), picked up individual titles.
Stephens easily handled Guthrie’s Alex Fields with a 10-0 major decision in the finals, and Tanner beat Durant’s Tagen Jamison, 8-4, for his second title in as many years.
The team title for the Cardinals was their seventh overall — all coming since 2011. This one, though, was perhaps the strangest for Collinsville, a team that struggled in duals throughout the season.
“It’s been a long year,” Harding said. “It had been aggravating for the kids to lose the duals.”
Collinsville watched as Coweta and Skiatook won regular season duals, and the Cardinals were eliminated in the first round of the dual state tournament by Altus.
“Other teams acted like they had won state by beating us,” Harding said. “But our guys were ready to wrestle at the state tournament. You could tell because they left it all out there.”
Without a qualifier above 160 pounds, the Cardinals had four others who placed while guiding Collinsville to the title. Eli Benham (120) and Xavear Cullors (138) both finished second in their weight classes, and Garrett Strickland (106) and Kolten Allphen (145) both hauled in a bronze medal.
Townsell finishes on top
Jerome Townsell’s final appearance as an Oklahoma high school wrestler didn’t last long. For him, that was a good thing.
The Edison senior didn’t wait long to finish off Lawton Eisenhower’s Muhammad Ali Al Zeragi, pinning him at 0:56 in the first period to claim his third straight state championship. In 2017, Townsell used all six of his allotted minutes to claim an 8-1 decision for his second title, so they just kept getting easier as he went along.
“This year’s title felt like I rolled through, compared to my first one my sophomore year,” said Townsell, a signee at Central Oklahoma who finished the season 38-1. “Ever since that one, they just came easier.”
Townsell’s performance at the state tournament went much like the rest of his season: pure domination. He picked up wins by fall over Altus’ Brady Marple and Skiatook’s Blake Watkins to reach the finals, where he squared off against someone he had never faced before.
“I’ve actually never even seen or heard of him before, so it put me on a block to work hard for the week,” Townsell said. “Watching his matches, I had seen his mistakes he made, and I made sure to capitalize when the time came.”
And it was quick, too.
To cap off his final appearance at the state tournament, Townsell was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Now it’s off to Edmond, where Townsell will wrestle and play football.
“I will be joining a great friend from Collinsville, Xavear Cullors,” Townsell said. “I can’t wait to see what the next level has in store for me.”
Coweta crowns 2
Coweta coach Ashton Cooper felt confident in his seven qualifiers heading into the state tournament. He felt even better when his team vacated State Fair Arena with a third-place finish as a team, two individual champs and five wrestlers overall who placed.
“I was quoted two weeks ago saying, ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to wrestle us next weekend,’” Cooper recalled saying before the state tournament. “And we proved that. We were firing on all cylinders. Everyone on our team brought it (at the state tournament).”
Bennett Moudy was the first Coweta wrestler to appear in the finals on Saturday, and he fell short against Altus’ Kobi Gomez, who pinned Moudy in the third period.
But Ricky Turner turned things around at 145. In his final varsity match, Turner knocked off Glenpool’s Gage Hight, 3-2, after falling to Hight in the regional finals just a week earlier.
“Ricky dominated a match against a kid that beat us (at regionals),” Cooper said of Hight, who was the runner-up at 138 in 2017. “The 3-2 score doesn’t really do justice to the match.”
The Talon Borror scooped up his second straight title for the Tigers, beating Lawton MacArthur’s Christian Maldonado 3-2 in the 170 finals.
“Talon, winning his second (title), controlled the entire match,” Cooper said. “Once again, 3-2 doesn’t do it justice.”
Borror’s win put the Tigers in position to finish as the runnes-up to Collinsville, but Lawton Mac surpassed Coweta with Montana Phillips’ win at heavyweight at the end of the evening. Still, though, Cooper was elated.
“As a team, we performed well beyond anyone’s expectations but our own,” Cooper said. “To be sitting in second until the last 5A match of the night is a testament to our boys.”
Now Borror will chase his third consecutive championship as a senior in 2019.
“We would have liked to walk out of there with a trophy, but we sent a message,” Cooper said. “On our down year, we still brought it. Coweta is here to stay.”
Piedmont picks up hardware
Will and Josh Heindselman left the 2017 state tournament without any gold. They made sure that changed this season.
In back-to-back matches on Saturday, the Heindselman brothers secured first-place finishes at 195 and 220 pounds. At 195, Will Heindselman survived an 8-7 ultimate rideout against Altus’ Cabe Dickerson, and Josh Heindselman followed at 220 with a 4-1 triumph over Claremore’s Seth Seago.
“It was special to have the opportunity to sit in back-to-back matches and win both,” Piedmont coach Erik Ford said. “They are really good kids, and excellent wrestlers. It was really cool for them to get to both finish out the year on top, in back-to-back matches.”
Will Heindselman, a senior, finished the season 34-9, and Josh Heindselman, a junior, posted an impressive 44-2 mark.
“Both of them have scored a lot of big-time bonus points this year, and they have really been our point getters in duals and tournaments,” said Ford, who was named 5A’s Most Outstanding Coach. “Josh has been extremely dominant with, I think, only five wins that didn’t have bonus-point victories. Will is our team leader in pins. When you look at their seasons as a whole, they have been extremely impressive.”
Class 5A results
1. Collinsville 118.5; 2. Lawton MacArthur 90; 3. Coweta 85; 4. Piedmont 75.5; 5. Skiatook 73.5; 6. Altus 73; 7. Claremore 41; 8. Edison 33; 9. Del City 32; 10. El Reno 28
106: Romanual Rogers (Del City) dec. Parker Avendano (El Reno), 6-2
113: Rocky Stephens (Collinsville) maj. dec. Alex Fields (Guthrie), 10-0
120: Josh Taylor (Skiatook) dec. Eli Benham (Collinsville), 3-2
126: Caleb Tanner (Collinsville) dec. Tagen Jamison (Durant), 8-4
132: Kobi Gomez (Altus) dec. Bennett Moudy (Coweta), 6-5
138: Cougar Anderson (Skiatook) dec. Xavear Cullors (Collinsville), 10-3
145: Ricky Turner (Coweta) dec. Gage Hight (Glenpool), 3-2
152: Tony Connor (Collinsville) dec. Kord LaFoe (El Reno), 4-2
160: Hunter Jump (Lawton Mac) dec. Bryan Ford (Coweta), 10-4
170: Talon Borror (Coweta) dec. Christian Maldonado (Lawton Mac), 3-2
182: Jerome Townsell (Edison) fall Muhammad Ali Al Zeragi (Lawton Ike), 0:56
195: Will Heindselman (Piedmont) dec. Cabe Dickerson (Altus), 8-7 UTB
220: Josh Heindselman (Piedmont) dec. Seth Seago (Claremore), 4-1
285: Montana Phillips (Lawton Mac) fall Paul Odell (Claremore), 1:06
Freshman: Josh Taylor, Cougar Anderson
Sophomore: Romanual Rogers, Rocky Stephens, Caleb Tanner
Junior: Kobi Gomez, Hunter Jump, Talon Borror, Josh Heindselman, Montana Phillips
Senior: Ricky Turner, Tony Connor, Jerome Townsell, Will Heindselman