Before his state championship bout against Vian's Syngent Childress at 103 pounds in the Class 3A state wrestling tournament at State Fair Arena on Saturday, Little Axe's Brandon Henson's stomach was doing summersaults.
"I felt like I was about to throw up," Henson said. "I had butterflies and everything else."
Once the match started, though, everything faded away.
When it was over, Henson had beat Childress 8-2 to earn the school's first-ever state wrestling title.
"Last year was good," Henson said. "But this is so much better. Taking home gold is amazing."
Later in the night, Dustin Hawkins gave the school its second state title at 215 pounds. Hawkins beat Perry's Anthony Lopez 3-0 to take the title.
Henson ended his senior season 34-2, with his only two losses coming to out-of-state opponents.
"It's justice for a young man that's dedicated his life to it," Little Axe coach Jim Love said. "I wanted it so bad for him because he deserves it."
It's something Henson has been working toward since he began wrestling as a seventh grader.
As a freshman, he made the state tournament and dropped his first two matches.
Each year, he moved a step closer to the championship.
After his runner-up finish a year ago, there was only one thing to do.
"I started thinking about this as a freshman," Henson said. "I just wanted to keep getting better and better and I knew this is where it would end."
Henson took control quickly with a takedown.
"All those feelings disappeared when it started," Henson said. "Nothing else mattered."
Henson quickly pulled of a takedown and led 4-1 after one but things remained tight late into the second.
With just 3 seconds left in the second, Henson took Childress down to go ahead 6-2 and make things much easier on himself.
"That was absolutely huge," Love said. "My stomachache went away for just a second there."
Henson went up 8-2 on a reverse very early in the third, then hung on for the rest of the period, raising his hands in triumph toward a large contingent of Little Axe fans in the corner as the final seconds ticked away.
Love has coached Little Axe for 19 years.
"The kid won that match but it was for our whole community," Love said. "We've got a great crowd here and we've scored more points than we ever have at state. We have a lot to be thankful for."