The theme for the Lady Wildcats on Friday night was to just keep shooting, because eventually the missed shots turned into points and Piedmont cruised to a 54-24 season opening win over visiting Chickasha.
Coulton Parker’s goal to become the first ever freshman Piedmont wrestler to qualify for state is a big one, but a closer look at Parker’s work ethic may lead some to believe he might be abe to fulfill that goal.
“Coulton is a hard worker,” Coach Erik Ford said. “He will do well this year.”
Parker has been wrestling for five years now. So far this season, he has won his weight class at the Anadarko Tournament, the Putnam City West Tournament, and came in third at the Oklahoma Open, one of the toughest preseason tournaments in the state. That success doesn’t come from idly dreaming, Parker has put in the work.
“This summer I went to the Tyrone Lewis camp in North Dakota,” Parker said. “We did a lot of work in freestyle and Grecco wrestling. I also went to football summer pride and lifted weights all summer.”
Parker’s dedication to wrestling doesn’t stop when practice is done. He says that he often spends time at home working on his stance and shots. All this work comes from the end of his season last year and wanting to do better.
“My last match to place at state, I won 13-1,” Parker said. “It was an awesome moment, qualifying for state. I ended up finishing sixth.”
Every wrestler has their own way of getting ready for a match, Parker focuses on his opponent.
“(When I’m getting ready for a match) I start moving,” Parker said about his preparation. “I focus on what I need to work on to beat the other guy.”
Like most, Parker enjoys wrestling because he likes to win. Parker hopes to put himself above the rest because he likes to win and says he isn’t scared to put in the hard work. With the miles he runs in the evenings, with the camps he’s attended, he has put in the time to make his dream a reality. Now, he just has to work even harder to make it happen.
Piedmont softball third baseman Ashlee Hankins will be changing her Piedmont blue and gold for Oklahoma Baptist University’s green and gold. She signed her letter of intent on Monday at Piedmont High School.
“There’s a lot of hardwork, dedication, and heart that went into this day,” Coach Rick Scott said. “It’s been my honor to coach (Ashlee).”
In her senior season at Piedmont, Hankins had a .449 batting average, 54 stolen bases, and a .590 on base percentage. Hankins is the eleventh Piedmont softball player to go on to play at the collegiate level.
This last year, Hankins remembers the Deer Creek game as the point where the team was able to rally and prove they could play as a team. She also looks back and sees her sophomore season as the most influential.
“My sophomore year, I didn’t get to play,” she said. “I really had to push myself to work hard, get better, and really earn my place on the field.”
Hankins, who will play outfield with the Lady Bison, was praised for her hardwork and speed by OBU’s coaches.
“She has those outstanding qualities that we look for,” Head Coach Pam Fink said. “Her competitive drive, character, and relentless spirit rate about a nine or ten. And she is really quick.”
“We were impressed with how she handled her self on the field,” Assistant Coach Les Hilburn said. “She was focused and not effected by adversity. Plus, she is a speedy left hander who fits really well into our offense. Her mechanics are very good, and that is a credit to all the work she has done both in and out of school.”
As a member of the Lady Bison, Hankins will get the opportunity to compete against a former Wildcat teammate in Sarah Peoples, who is currently playing at Oklahoma Christian.
Hankins received an e-mail from OBU asking her to come visit the school and after her trip she was sold on the university. While at OBU, Hankins plans to major in veterinary medicine.
“I went to visit and it was big and nice,” Hankins said about OBU. “I was very drawn to the Christian atmosphere of the school. And the coaches were really nice.”
While the news might come as a surprise to many people, the Piedmont High School swim team competed in their first meet this week.
The team is coached by Oralia Rein, mother of the only swim team member, Kasey. While one swimmer isn’t much of a team, yet, Rein said Deer Creek started their swim team in a similar way and now has 16 members.
“There are a lot of swimmers at Piedmont coming up,” Rein said. “They all swim with club teams, and many wanted to swim for Piedmont.”
Rein said the process to get a swim team was a long one, but all that time paid off in the end.
“We had a lot of support from the administration,” Rein said. “Lots of people were influential in the process.”
This is Rein’s first time as a swim coach, but she says she has been around swimming for a long time.
“I’ve been around (swimming) a lot,” Rein explained. “Around meets and at lessons, I’ve picked up a lot of things. I’ve also learned a lot from John Brown, the head coach of the Chesapeake Swim Club.”
Rein has also completed the National Federation of State High School Association’s Concussion in Sports test and 25 hours of care and prevention of athletic injuries.
Kasey is an active member of the Chesapeake Swim Club, in addition to her participation with Piedmont. Rein said that the Chesapeake Swim Club tries to have members swim 12,000 yards a week.
Members of high school swim teams are allowed to enter two events per meet, and how well the athlete does at the various meets will qualify them for the state meet in February. The state meet takes place at Oklahoma City Community College.
The team already has the warm-ups and suits and is ready to represent Piedmont in a sport that has yet to see a Wildcat compete. The team is currently holding practices at Lighthouse Sport and Fitness in Oklahoma City.
“As our school continues to grow, we’ll have to add sports like swimming,” Piedmont Athletic Director Tom Ewing said. “Not many schools our size have a swim team.”
Piedmont’s boys basketball team has the dedication and commitment to shed the ‘just Piedmont’ mindset. While their rigorous schedule will continually test the Wildcats this season, those early trials should pay off in the post season.
Guards have a vital role in the Wildcat offense. Luckily, Piedmont returns all three guard starters from last year’s team; Jacob Swigart, Jimmy Guerra, and John Stephens. Coming off the bench for Piedmont will be Collin Bricker, Hunter Kirton, Christian Foster, and Jacob Maloney.
Having three returning starters in the backcourt will be a great help in Piedmont’s quest for state.
“(Having three returning starters) means you don’t make as many mistakes,” Coach Ryan Wagner said. “They’ve been through the battles. They also allow us to do more things offensively.”
In Piedmont’s conference, teams are scouted every night by opponents. Piedmont runs enough different sets and looks where they will be an incredibly tough team for opponents to scout.
The Wildcat backcourt should also boast one of the team’s best strong points this year; outside shooting. While Wagner says they’ve been inconsistent early, it could become a real problem for opponents as the season goes along.
Piedmont will have a thin but talented line-up of forwards this season. They’ll be headlined by returning starter Keith Vick and new starter Blake Robinson. Jacob Boggess and James Green will come off the bench for the Wildcats.
“Our style of play allows us to take advantage of the talent we have in our forwards, while not being at a disadvantage for it being relatively thin,” Wagner explained.
The commitment to the game the forwards have shown is something that Wagner has been very proud of so far this preseason.
“Their dedication, coachability, and commitment is beyond the norm for people their age,” Wagner said. “They’re all on the same page with what we want to do.”
In their scrimmages this year, the forwards have been inconsistent but have shown improvement. All teams see inconsistency early in the season, particularly because many are just getting players from other sports when scrimmages start.
If a fan were to ask any member of this year’s team what their goal was, they’d all answer ‘state.’ A simple answer that means a lot of hard work.
“First, we want to be conference champions,” Wagner said. “The best teams in the conference are in the west. We need to win at home and then steal some on the road.”
Winning their conference will mean identifying their weaknesses early, and turning those weaknesses into strengths as the season progresses.
Night to night, the Wildcats will have to show consistency and the ability to overcome adversity. There aren’t many off nights when you play the caliber of opponent that Piedmont does. When the team does have a down night, they have to be able to come back the next day and get the job done.
“Because of our schedule,” Wagner explained, “we’ll identify our weaknesses early and be able to fix them. When we get into the postseason, there won’t be any secrets. We’ll have seen everything already.”
The Wildcats season ended last year against Anadarko in the area semifinals. Piedmont had beat No. five John Marshal in game two of area.
Piedmont’s wrestling team is full of potential this year. If they can mold that potential into results, then this could be a great year for the Wildcats.
The Wildcat wrestlers have already had two preseason tournaments and their final outcome was a pleasant surprise to coach Erik Ford.
“Our guys competed well and they wrestled hard,” Ford said. “They’re getting back into their groove and exceeded my expectation last weekend.”
The most important aspect of wrestling, according to Ford, is the mindset. If the wrestler has the right mentality, then anything is possible. That mentality comes from wanting to win more than your opponent and doing everything possible to win.
“Any wrestler can learn technique, but if they don’t practice well and they don’t have that mentality, they won’t make it all the way,” Ford said.
Piedmont had two state qualifiers last year; Hunter Winkle and Bryce Henry. Those two wrestlers give the team a wealth of knowledge and experience. Ford also expects David Snelgrove to emerge as a leader this year.
“I’ve improved all around for this year,” Snelgrove said. “I have a lot more gas in my tank.”
“My goal this year is to at least place at state,” Henry said of his expectations this year.
“If our guys keep working, keep the focus,” Ford explained, “there’s nothing they can’t do.”
The team is also looking to have two freshmen, Reece Henry and Culton Parker; in their regular lineup.
“Reece and Culton are real work horses and they battle hard,” Ford said.
Right now, Ford has nothing but positives to say about his team. He says they are working hard and if they keep up their current pace, they will be in a good position at the end of the season.
“It’s not how you are in November and December, it’s about how you are during regionals,” Ford said.
With the wrestlers adapting to Ford’s philosophy, the Piedmont wrestlers can go a long way this year.
“Our assistant coaches; Joe Mitchell, Todd Johnson, and Roger White do a great job of getting the kids motivated and helping them give their best every practice,” Ford said.
After placing second in Class 5A at the Western Heights regional, expectations for the Piedmont cheer squad were running high. “We felt we performed better than we scored, but as long as the girls happy with their performance, that’s what matters,” coach Ashley Dodson said.
Piedmont beat rival Deer Creek by one point at the contest in Western Heights, but Deer Creek took fourth at state.
“It’s always weird when you score higher than another team at one contest, and then you flip-flop later,” Dodson said. “You never really know why the judges score things the way they do.”
Cheerleaders are scored in 15 different categories; including sportsmanship, spirit, voice control and stunts.
“Our girls really excelled in their stunts this year,” Dodson added. One of their more complicated stunts from state was a heel stretch arabesque double down. This complex stunt involves the cheerleader grabbing her ankle and holding it near her head, similar to a high kick, then swing it down into a arabesque stretch, the stunt is then finished with a twist dismount. “It is a really complex stunt.”
This year’s squad was made up of 16 girls, including six seniors. “We were mostly seniors and sophomores this year,” Dodson said. “We’re really going to miss the seniors after they graduation, but there are a lot of great girls on the squad.”
The team has been practicing everyday for about two hours. With the help of their choreographer, David Owens, they have gotten their challenging routine to the level it is now. “Having David around to help prepare the girls has been great,” Dodson said.
The competitive cheer season isn’t over yet for Piedmont. The squad will be travelling to Dennison, Texas on January 8-9 for the National Cheer Association Nationals Competition. “The judging style is largely the same at NCA Nationals,” Dodson explained. “The girls get to have a bit more fun at NCA competitions, though. They get to do a dance and a cheer with music.”
This Saturday, Oct. 9, the Piedmont cheer squad is hosting a Kiddie Clinic for girls from Pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade. The clinic will start at 9 a.m. and last until 1 p.m. and it will take place at the high school cafeteria. For the $35 clinic, the girls get a t-shirt, a picture with the mascot, and they get to learn a dance that will be performed at halftime of the Oct. 21 Piedmont – Bishop McGuinness game. Interested parents and students can pick up permission slips at their school office or in the high school office. There will also be a clinic during basketball season.
All four of the seniors on this year’s Wildcat basketball team have their eyes on something gold this season. They’ve all been playing together since seventh-grade and feel like this is the year of Piedmont basketball.
Coach Ryan Wagner made shirts for the players that say “Team Us” on the front and “Play like a Wildcat 212 degrees” on the back. “212 degrees is when water boils,” senior John Stephens said. “At 211.9 degrees, nothing happens. You can be close to the best, but close isn’t good enough this season. That’s what 212 degrees means to everyone on the team.”
Keith Vick thinks that the days of people looking past Piedmont are about to be over.
“We used to have people say ‘Oh, it’s just Piedmont,’ ” Vicks said. “Well, we’re going to let our game talk for us this season, and let them know that it’s not just Piedmont anymore.”
“We were one game away last season,” Jimmy Guerra said, referring to last year’s loss to Vinita where they were just a game away from playing for a State tournament birth. “That was something to build off of. With the seniors having played together since seventh-grade, we really feel like this is our strongest point. We’re ready.”
Jacob Swigart summed up the Wildcats’ expectations. “We want to go harder than everyone else and be the best guys on the floor that night, no matter what. We’ll push harder and play better. We want to be the best.”
Last Friday’s practice marked the first day of official practices for state-wide basketball teams. “We still have ten or so guys who currently playing football that will suit up for us this season, and about seven of those guys will be wearing varsity jerseys,” coach Wagner said.
Piedmont will take part in five big scrimmages this year. Their preseason slate is highlighted by a trip to Tulsa to take part in the 10th Annual Tip-Off Classic. The Wildcats will be facing the likes of Bixby, Coewta, Verdigris, and Metro Christian Academy in what should be a great tune-up for Piedmont.
The Wildcat Ladies’ Cross Country team finished 4th at the tough Tahlequah Cross Country Meet last week with several runners posting personal best times.
“I really feel like if we would have had Jordan Hendren in our lineup, who is out with an injury, we could have finished as high as 2nd,” coach Roger White said.
Ashley Garver lead the way with a personal best time of 13 minutes 7.4 seconds, and Kasey Rein was close behind with a time of 13:12.3 in the two mile run. They finished 11th and 13th respectfully. Haleigh McAnally continues to improve with a time of 13:34.5 which was good for 24th. Paige Anderson (40th) and Lexi Bingham (51st) both ran their personal best with times of 13:55.3 and 14:13.8. Allison Smola and McKenzie Davis crossed the finish line in 14:58 and 16:01.
“You can’t be disappointed in a 6th place finish when all your boys ran their personal best and without our freshman leader Jonathan Halko,” White said. “It was a really tough meet.”
Tanner Larson continued his strong season on Saturday by shaving a full minute and a half off his 5K time. He finished 16th with a time of 18:23.1. David Snelgrove (18:55.9) and Logan Davis (19:03.3) finished 31st and 33rd. Daniel Smola shaved off 26 seconds by finishing in 19:25.2, which was good for 40th. Brandon Gaines ran almost three minutes faster than last week with a 21:07.1. Carsen Young and Collin Murphy both improved with times of 21:44 and 21:47.1. J.V. runner Logan Lambert ran his personal best in 21:33.
“Our middle school boys finished in 1st place and outscored the 2nd place team, Ft. Gibson, by 26 points,” coach White said.
The Jr. Wildcats were without starters Ian Dooley, Dallin Windsor, Dakota Cope and Jared Rein. All the MS boys ran their personal best times in the two mile run. Colton Watters lead the team with a 7th placed medal in a time of 12:03. Ryan Lang and Tyler Wade were 10th and 11th with times of 12:22 and 12:27. Ethan Taylor and Justin Rein, who finished 13th and 14th, improved with times of 12:31.2 and 12:31.7, both shaved over 30 seconds from their best times. Hunter Clemmons and Quint Wheeler continue to improve by finishing 24th and 25th with times of 13:19.4 and 13:19.9.
The middle school girls team finished in 4th place. They were without starters Bianca Cardenas, Breanne Grothe, and Madison Lybarger. “With those three in our lineup we would have had a shot for the title,” coach White added.
Keli Patterson and Caitlin Lewis continue to shave off time by finishing the mile run in 5:50.1 and 6:00.6 which were good for 2nd and 4th place medals. Lindsey Hagen and Sagely McAdoo finished 32nd and 44th with times of 6:37 and 6:46.3. Regan McColl (49th) and Katherine Bethel (57th) both set new personel records with times of 6:51.1 and 6:56.1. Emily Knight also ran her personal best time of 7:36.5
The high school teams will run again Friday at Mitch Park in Edmond for the Pre-State meet at 2 p.m. The middle school and high school will be at the Suburban Conference Championships on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. which has been moved to Deer Creek.