By Evan Grice
It’s been said throughout the world of sports before “To be the man, you got to beat the man.”
For the Piedmont Wildcats wrestling team, if they want to claim their first ever dual state championship, they’ll have to go through the three-time defending champions in the first round.
Released Monday afternoon, the official 5A dual state brackets paired Piedmont with Collinsville, as the match will take place Saturday morning at 10 a.m. from Yukon High School.
Head coach Erik Ford said he expected the matchup with Collinsville, and admits he has a lot of respect for their program and coaching staff.
“First off, Collinsville has a great coach, and he does a great job of getting his kids to wrestle at a high level,” he said. “Other than that they have a lot of talent in the room. There are a lot of kids that know how to wrestle. They are a good program from top to bottom, and are going to come out physical and ready to go.”
This is the Wildcats second straight trip to the dual state competition, with the first coming last year as a Class 4A school.
PHS put up a fight in last year’s state competition against Wagoner at Cushing High School, but ultimately fell 34-17.
While some of the faces are different from last year on this season’s squad, there are still plenty of Wildcats who remain from last season ready to change their fortunes this season at Yukon.
“We’re a little more seasoned this time around to be honest,” Ford said. “Six of our guys have been to the state tournament, so I believe we are a little more battle tested then we were last season. All of this season we’ve wrestled a tough schedule, and we know we can hang with the best wrestlers in the state.”
Piedmont has recently been on a hot streak in duals, having won eight straight after dropping their opening two duals of the season.
“I hope we can keep that going,” Ford jokingly said about his team’s recent momentum in duals. “Honestly though, right now everyone is starting back at 0-0, and that’s going forward into regionals and state. Everyone knows they have a job to do individually and we hope our guys can do their jobs. We want to scrap and claw and keep the team score close, and hopefully come out with a win.”
“There are a few winnable matches for us,” Ford added. “I feel like we can go out and wrestle tough. The problem is that we could just as easily lose a lot of those matches. Collinsville is stout, but so are we. I feel we’re as solid as anyone else is in this competition.”