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High school wrestling: Alumni celebrate 90 years of Perry wrestling

Saturday night, wrestling alumni from the class of 1944 through seniors who just graduated in May wrapped up a alumni reunion weekend celebrating 90 years of Perry wrestling.
by Ryan Aber Published: June 30, 2012
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— There are plenty of storied high school sports programs in Oklahoma.

None matches what Perry wrestling has been able to accomplish over much of the last century.

The Maroons have won 38 team state titles and 13 dual state championships since 1952. Since 1961, the Maroons haven't gone more than two years without bringing back a state championship trophy to the small town north of Stillwater on I-35.

Saturday night, wrestling alumni from the class of 1944 through seniors who just graduated in May wrapped up a alumni reunion weekend celebrating 90 years of Perry wrestling.

John St. Clair was Perry's first individual state champion in the state tournament era, winning in 1942 and 1943 at 145 pounds.

Now 87, St. Clair remembers running five miles around the town nearly every day after working out with the team.

“One of the things that's made this program what it is is the conditioning,” St. Clair said. “It's surprising what that'll do for you when you can wrestle the third period like it's the first.”

St. Clair's son, Randy, won a state title in 1965. The duo is one of three father-son tandems to win state titles in the program's history.

Among the 300-plus alumni in attendance were Danny Hodge, who won three national titles at Oklahoma and competed in two Olympics.

They also included P.W. Kendle, who graduated in 1961, started the wrestling program at Pawhuska High School before moving on to coach at Augustana College in South Dakota. Kendle was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000.

“I had a lot of problems as a young man growing up — no direction, no discipline,” Kendle said. “I really appreciate and was grateful for the sport of wrestling for giving me some direction in my life. As a result of that, I wanted to go back and be a wrestling coach and help kids, like me, that really struggled in their personal lives.”

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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