Choctaw junior wrestler Kyle Garcia lifted up Carl Albert's Eric Waggoner as high as he possibly could.
Garcia was moments removed from winning his third consecutive state championship but this moment meant just as much to him
It's been the dream of Garcia and Waggoner, cousins, to become state champions. Garcia did his part as a freshman.
It was a much longer wait for Waggoner. And a scary one, too. But it happened Saturday night at the state tournament at State Fair Arena.
In the fall of 2009, Waggoner was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (svt), a heart condition that affects nearly 20 percent of all adults at one time or another. Symptoms include dizziness, shortness of breath, anxiety and a rapid pulse. In most cases, treatment is successful.
Waggoner had a successful six-hour surgery and was soon back on the mat. He qualified for the state tournament last season but this was his year.
Waggoner scored a takedown with six seconds left in the second period en route to a 3-1 victory against Harrah's Austin Goyette in the 135-pound championship.
"This was huge because he had beaten me before," Waggoner said. "He's a great wrestler, but I wanted to go out a champion. I just wanted to show you can have heart surgery as a teenager and be OK."
For Garcia (33-2), it was his third title at a third different weight class. Garcia earned two takedowns in the first period, holding off Tulsa Union's Brian Crutchmer in a 4-3 victory at 125.
Waggoner (37-6) said Garcia was crucial in Waggoner's recovery last year. It was Garcia who would work out with Waggoner and help him get back in shape.
"I wanted him to join me at the top of the podium one day," Garcia said. "We were going to do whatever was necessary to get there."
You can see the similarities in the styles. Both take a measured approach, placing one foot on the mat and one knee on the mat.
Then they strike.
"People always think I'm in an uncomfortable position when I'm like that but that's just how I am," said Garcia, who was named the Class 6A Most Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament. "I'm always confident with where I'm at.
"I don't want to say one championship is better than the other. There's a lot of hard work in each of them. This was definitely a big challenge."