Gary Wayne Harding and Will Steltlzen have spent the last 10 years as workout partners in wrestling.
On Saturday night, all the work they’ve put in together culminated with yet another pair of state titles.
Harding became Oklahoma’s 31st four-time state champion at 138 pounds in Class 5A, and Steltlzen became the 32nd one match later at 145 pounds.
“We made a little bit of history today and we did it together in every way,” Harding said. “Being on the same team and being workout partners since third grade, we’ve made each other better over the years.
“There’s no way we would be four-time champions if we didn’t have each other to make us better along the way. It’s great to share it with someone who has been there with you the whole way.”
Harding capped off his 44-1 season with a 16-0 technical fall over Pryor’s Cody Foos in the finals. The OSU signee was also named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler in Class 5A.
“Getting this done, it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Harding said. “I was real nervous coming into the match tonight, but after we slapped hands the nerves just went away and I did my thing.”
Steltlzen earned his fourth title with a 3-1 victory over Tahlequah's Mitch Sellers.
“I’ve always known I have to be at my best during the state tournament and that’s something I’ve focused on,” Steltlzen said. “I lost some close matches this year, but I learned from my mistakes. We know what it takes to get here and do what we do best. That’s how we got it done again.”
Harding and Steltlzen were also part of a fourth straight tournament team title for Collinsville. Including the Cardinals’ four consecutive dual championships, the two finish their high school career with 12 state titles.
But they didn’t do it alone. Junior Christain Moody won his second title, 5-3, over Altus’ Montorie Bridges at 113 pounds. Freshman Nate Keim (106 pounds), senior Jacob Findley (120 pounds), and junior Wyatt Jordan (152 pounds) finished runner up.
“After we got those individual and team titles as freshman, we knew we were capable of doing this,” Steltlzen said. “We had the talent, but we pushed each other throughout all four years and worked hard for what we got.”
The team had been competing with heavy hearts all season after assistant coach Skip Harrington passed away in September at the age of 77.
“He’s definitely been missed,” Harding said. “He lived for wrestling. The state titles we got this year, team and individual, the whole team wants to dedicate those to him.”