MIDWEST CITY — Carlos Freeman is seeking to become Midwest City's first state wrestling champion in five years.
The Bomber heavyweight avenged his only loss of the season last weekend at the state dual championships in Claremore when he defeated Carlos Taylor of Broken Arrow in a major decision, 18-4.
Taylor entered the match the No. 1 ranked heavyweight in Class 6A while Freeman was No. 2.
“He was determined and resilient and just basically ran over the kid,” Midwest City coach Cory Wilson said of his heavyweight.
Freeman, a senior, previously had lost to Taylor in the finals of the Geary Tournament. It was a loss that Freeman said was blessing in disguise.
“It shrunk my head back down to where it needed to be,” Freeman said. “I got back to working hard.”
On Friday, Freeman went unbeaten in the 6A wrestling regional at J.E. Sutton Field House to reach Saturday's championship finals.
Many people think the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Freeman already would have a state championship if not for injuries.
As a sophomore, he broke his ankle before the regional wrestling tournament. Last year, in the first round of the state tournament, Freeman tore his meniscus and lost the match to eventual state champ Travis Morgan of Stillwater.
“I don't exactly remember when it happened,” Freeman said. “I just remembered it popped in the middle of the match.”
Still, Freeman came back to win the rest of his matches in the state tournament to finish third. Now, Freeman has one more chance for the state crown he covets.
“This is my last hurrah,” said Freeman, who will play football in the offensive line for Mike Leach and Washington State next season.
“Wrestling is kind of my life outside of football. Wrestling is really good for me because it shows my athletic side, not just my brawler side.
“I have loved wrestling with a passion. It's always been one of those sports close to my heart, but the (college) opportunities in football really outweighed wrestling for me.”
Freeman, who scored 29 on the ACT and was a National Merit Scholarship quarterfinalist, turned down offers from Dartmouth and Cornell to play Division I football at Washington State.
On the mat, Freeman has been the top wrestler on the best Midwest City wrestling team in five years, the last time the Bombers won a state championship.
Midwest City once was a powerhouse in wrestling, winning 14 state championships from 1971 to 1995. The Bombers won two more team titles in 2007 and 2008.
In addition to those 16 state championships, the Bombers also have five state dual titles.
“Forty percent of the banners hanging in the field house are wrestling,” Wilson said. “It's a big, big tradition.”
Wilson, a former Ponca City wrestler whose uncle, Shelby Wilson, was an Olympic wrestling champion in 1960, is trying to return the Bombers to their glory days.
“Are we back?,” Wilson said. “No. But we are definitely headed in that direction.”
This was the first season in five years that Midwest City qualified for the state dual tournament, where they lost in the first round to Broken Arrow.
Midwest City is expected Saturday to qualify more wrestlers for next weekend's state tournament than the Bombers have in five years.
“We are just now beginning to be the team we once were,” Wilson said.