Tuttle native and former two-time Oklahoma state wrestling champion Shane Woods chose a faraway college destination, but was back near his hometown for the biggest tournament of his life this week.
Woods, now a Wyoming junior, went 2-2 over two days in the NCAA Wrestling Championships inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena. He qualified to nationals as a sophomore, but didn’t win any of his matches last year.
Woods spoke with The Oklahoman about returning home, wrestling in front of his friends and family and the thrill of competing in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s arena.
Q: You went far away for college, but get to come back close to home for nationals. How has this experience been?
A: It’s a dream come true. I’ve got quite a few family and friends here, all the way from Wyoming and all the way from Tuttle. It’s an exciting time. It’s like a 12-hour drive … I get to see my mom a bunch because she comes to a lot of my stuff, but I don’t hardly ever get to see other distant family and friends or wrestle in front of them, so it’s awesome to get to do that.
How would you grade your performance?
I figured if I could make it through a day at nationals, or win a match, that’s gonna boost my confidence a lot. I came last year and I didn’t do very good. I want to change that this year, especially in front of my friends and family.
You won two state titles at Tuttle, but where does winning a match at nationals rank for you?
Definitely at the top. In high school at the state championship, being from Tuttle, that’s about the pinnacle of where you can end up. Now, I’m at the pinnacle of wrestling as far as collegiate style goes. The Division I national tournament, so it’s exciting, and I would definitely rank it at the top.
What did you think of wrestling in front of this big crowd?
It’s amazing. You come here and watch a couple Thunder games, and think, “Wow, this is awesome.” To actually be down on the ground and have everybody in the stands, it just adds a whole new element to this Chesapeake Arena. It’s just awe-inspiring. But you’ve kinda gotta zone that out, wrestle and do what you came to do.