When Newcastle bumped up to Class 4A this season, Steven Fernandez knew the competition would only get tougher.
The 132-pound senior found out exactly what that meant in a 10-5 decision over David Ayers of Locust Grove in the state wrestling tournament semifinals Friday night at State Fair Arena. The bout left Fernandez happy but exhausted. He hadn't faced Ayers before Friday night.
“I wrestled really well that first period and then it got a lot tougher,” Fernandez said. “My conditioning is not where it needs to be, but it's enough to get me through.”
Fernandez (27-1) is looking for his second state championship after winning the Class 3A title at 130 pounds. His win Friday night sets up a championship match with Poteau's Tyler Justin, who entered the tournament with a 44-1 record. Justin advanced to finals with a major decision.
“I've been here before,” Fernandez said. “It's pretty nerve wracking. Maybe it won't be as bad this time. But it probably will. I feel confident, though. I've had a great season. Now it's time to finish it that way.”
Tuttle continued its recent dominance, rolling to 116 team points by the end of Friday night's semifinal round. Cushing was second with 69.
Tuttle went 11 for 11 in the first round matches. The Tigers have six wrestlers in Saturday night's finals. Tuttle is looking for its fourth consecutive state championship. The Tigers appear impossible to stop.
“We put ourselves in position this morning,” Tuttle coach Matt Surber said. “There's nothing more special than winning a championship. We've got some guys going for multiple championships and some going for their first one. All they need to do is come out and wrestle like they have been. Whatever happens, they can live with.”