EDMOND — Central Oklahoma coach David James' description of senior Cory Dauphin includes all the ingredients of what it takes to be a great wrestler.
Dauphin will enter Sunday's Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament 26-0 and riding a 44-match winning streak after capturing a national title at 157 pounds last season.
“He's just such a competitor with great athletic ability,” James said. “If you watch him wrestle, he's quick, he's strong, he's explosive, so he's blessed and gifted with those types of things. But he's also a great competitor who works hard. At any level, you don't become a national champ with people just giving it to you. You really have to earn that and Cory certainly did that last year and you can see him working towards that again this year. He's just a great person to have on our team.”
Dauphin, an El Reno native who was a four-time high school state champion, has posted a remarkable 59 takedowns in his 26 matches while surrendering just five.
“Luckily, I've been able to stay on top of my game this year and wrestle to the best of my ability,” Dauphin said. “But it's not all me here. We have a tough squad. There's two other guys around my weight that are just as good as I am.”
The two other guys are Jordan Basks at 149 pounds and Chris Watson at 165 pounds.
Basks, a Claremore native and All-American, is 33-2 with a team-high 66 takedowns. Watson, who earned All-American honors last season, is 29-1.
“Basks can wrestle with Cory, or Cory can go up and wrestle with Watson (in practice) and I think that's contributed to the success for them,” James said. “We're pretty fortunate to have that there in the middle weights.”
The fifth-ranked Bronchos also have two-time All-American Casey Rowell (25-4) at 133 pounds, giving them four seniors with serious national championship aspirations entering the postseason.
The focus this time of year, after going 14-4 in duals, is strictly on tournament competition with the hopes of individual glory also leading to team success.
“It's yet to be seen, but we might be a better tournament team (than dual team),” James said. “We've just got to get guys more practice time. In some of the weights we're really close, but we're just quite not there yet. I need to see more from some other guys, because we've got a couple guys that are right on the bubble.
“I'd really like to see some guys push through to that level in our conference tournament (Sunday) and then feel good about going into the regional two weeks later.”