Former Stillwater star Chandler Rogers stepped on the mat during the Junior National Duals championship with a lot on line.
Rogers was bumped up a weight class and facing a tough opponent in the middle of a back-and-forth dual that had already seen six lead changes in the first nine matches.
The Oklahoma State signee came through with a pin, putting Oklahoma in front for good as the team won five of the final six matches to claim a 38-29 victory over Minnesota Blue. It was Oklahoma’s first title in the event since 2002.
“I had the same plan no matter what weight I was going to wrestle at,” Rogers said. “This was about wrestling for a national title, so that’s all I was focused on. Sometimes you bump up and could get an easier guy, but this time I bump up and get the third-ranked guy in the nation. I’m pretty excited we were able to win this dual.”
Oklahoma finished 8-0 at the event, and also defeated Iowa Blue (40-25), Utah (41-23), and New Jersey (33-30) on Saturday.
Rogers, who went 7-0 for Oklahoma over the two-day tournament, was forced to bump up due to a shoulder injury suffered by former Edmond North star and OU signee Lance Dixon
“At an event like this, you’re always going to have some injuries because it’s a lot of high quality wrestling over four days,” said coach Bobby Cook. “But our guys our tough and they all stepped up.”
Rogers moved to Stillwater before last season from Spokane, Wash., where he was a three-time state champion.
“The whole Oklahoma wrestling community, not just Stillwater, has brought me in like I’ve been here my whole life,” said Rogers, who won the Class 6A state title at 170 pounds in February. “It’s been an awesome experience, and the willingness of people to bring me in like that made this really special.”
Maybe the biggest hero of the day for Oklahoma was Tulsa Union’s Mason Naifeh, who lifted the team past New Jersey with a 13-3 technical fall over Daniel Percelay at 100 pounds in the final match of the dual.
“He’s just a little fireball,” Cook said. “He’s a young guy, and we weren’t sure how he would perform here, but he obviously came up big. He not only won the New Jersey dual for us, but had the Minnesota dual came down to 100 pounds, which it almost did, he would’ve won that one for us also.”
The freestyle crown was Oklahoma’s second appearance in the championship finals during the week after finishing runner-up in the Greco-Roman competition on Thursday.