At the Junior National Wrestling Duals, Oklahoma rarely takes center stage until the Greco-Roman portion of the event is over and the freestyle tournament begins.
Things have changed this year.
Oklahoma cruised to first place in Pool D on Wednesday — defeating Kansas Red 57-8, New York 55-19, and Maryland 51-14 at Oklahoma City University’s Freede Center.
“There is a lot of pressure on our kids with this tournament being in Oklahoma,” said head Greco-Roman coach Tony Cook. “But they came out today wrestled loose and let it fly. It’s been a few years since we’ve made the final eight in Greco-Roman, and I’ve been doing this 10 or 11 years and this is the first time we’ve done it by winning our pool.”
Illinois, Utah, and Minnesota Blue also won an eight-team pool and will join Oklahoma in the final eight All-American placement duals on Thursday. Florida, Iowa, Maryland, and Michigan Blue advanced by finishing second in pool competition.
“We’ve had more kids active in Greco-Roman that have come up through the system, but still most of these kids haven’t done it much,” Cook said. “We’re just a more talented group this year, so they’re capable. They’ve really come together as a team. A lot of these kids have wrestled on these teams together since they were small, and they’ve really bonded.”
Oklahoma took 12 of 15 matches from Maryland to win the Pool D championship, including key wins from two-time state champion Kaid Brock of Stillwater and four-time state champion Gary Wayne Harding of Collinsville.