Tuttle wrestling coach Matt Surber hasn't worried much the last four years about Zachary Beard on the mat. He's had to worry about Zachary Beard on a wakeboard.
“He does all the stuff you see on TV, back flips, front flips,” Surber said. “I wakeboard myself so I know all the hazards that come with it. I always worried he was going to blow his knee out and miss six months of training.
“He takes the same approach on a wakeboard as he does on the wrestling mat. He is kind of fearless and goes for broke. I always had a knot in my stomach when I knew he was going to the lake.”
A wakeboard injury is perhaps the only thing that could keep Beard from becoming a four-time state wrestling champion.
Beard is unbeaten the past two seasons in Oklahoma and has rarely been challenged. His career prep record is 159-9, with six of those losses occurring when he was a freshman.
Beard and Berryhill's Davey Dolan are trying to become Oklahoma's 29th and 30th prep wrestlers to be four-time champs when the Oklahoma High School Wrestling Championships open Friday at State Fair Arena.
“I have been thinking about winning four since middle school,” said Beard, who has been dominating opponents since he was a seventh-grader.
Beard is Oklahoma's highest nationally ranked prep wrestler. He is ranked in the top five of all national wrestling polls at 170 pounds and is as high as No. 2 in one poll.
His record this season is 39-0, which includes 36 bonus point victories. His closest matches this season have been decisions over defending 6A champ Nathan Marek of Southmoore in the finals of two tournaments.
Last month, Beard was selected to compete in March for Team USA in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic at the University of Pittsburgh, the most prestigious all-star wrestling event in the country.
Already, Beard has more high school victories (159) than anyone from Tuttle, a wrestling program that has produced two four-time champions and six three-time champs.
A wrestler from Tuttle has won a state championship every year since 1988, with the exception of 2006. Eight collegiate All-Americans are from Tuttle and the Tigers currently have six former wrestlers on college rosters.
OKLAHOMA HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: State Fair Arena
Session 1: First round, all classes, begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Session 2: First round consolations begin at 5 p.m. Friday. Semifinals begin at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Session 3: Consolation semifinals begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Consolation finals begin at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
Session 4: Finals begins at 5:45 p.m. Saturday with opening ceremonies at 5 p.m.