By Evan Grice
If the first tournament of 2014 is any indication, the Piedmont wrestling team could be in for a lot of success in the coming year.
At the Cushing Invitational this past weekend, the Wildcats turned in their best performance in program history at the tournament, finishing in fifth place in the team standings with a total of 136.5 points.
Perry won the overall team title on the day with a total of 199 points.
It was a major improvement from the 10th place finish the team turned in last year at the same tournament.
Piedmont’s performance was helped by having five wrestlers make it to the consolation or finals part of the bracket on the final day of competition.
Reece Henry was the lone Wildcat wrestler to bring home the gold in the 138-pound division, as his victory meant he remained perfect on the season in tournament wrestling.
Henry’s final match of the evening saw him take down Berryhill wrestler Ryan Travelletti by a score of 11-7.
Another wrestler who had a strong performance was Coulton Parker in the 120 pound weight class, as he finished in third place.
Making the occasion more special for Parker was the fact this was his season debut for the Piedmont wrestling program after suffering a spinal injury in the days leading up to the Tuttle dual in early December.
“It felt great being back out there wrestling,” Parker said. “Now I would have preferred a first place finish overall, but I’ll take a third place finish especially at this kind of tournament. We just have to keep wrestling and going out there and winning. I feel like we are getting stronger as a team, we just need to prove it now.”
Alex Cardenas was another Wildcat wrestler who claimed third place overall in the 132 pound weight class as he tore through the competition on the final day going 6-0 overall.
Cardenas won the third place match with a 3-0 victory over Vinita’s Branch Wood.
Blane Culp also continued his strong start to the season as he was able to win third place in the 160 pound division with a 1-0 victory over Newkirk’s Jacob Vap in his final match of the evening.
Brody Largent was forced to settle for fourth place in the 182 pound division as he fell in the consolation finals to Woodward’s Kyler Ferguson 5-0.
“Overall the tournament went well for us as a whole,” Largent said. “There were a few matches that should have gone our way but in those cases we didn’t wrestle to the best of our ability. Considering though it was a tough tournament I feel pretty good about the way it turned out.”
Piedmont traveled to Del City Tuesday night for a dual which ultimately proved to be less than pleasant for the Wildcats as they fell by a score of 41-28 on the night to the Eagles.
PHS is now 0-2 in duals this season but will look to change its luck Thursday night Jan. 9 against Carl Albert with matches set to start at 6 p.m. from Carl Albert High School in Midwest City.
“Right now we just aren’t coming together as a team in duals,” Parker said. “We don’t have as many guys now as we did at the start of the year. Everyone just needs to step up and do their part.”
Brody Largent echoed the thoughts of his teammate as the Wildcats continue to look for answers in dual competition this season.
“We’ve just got holes in the lineup right now where guys are either injured or just not competing,” he said. “In other cases it’s just a mental thing that needs to be overcome when the match begins. It’s all about wrestling with your heart and giving it your all.”
Piedmont will hit the road for another tournament this weekend at the Geary Invitational tournament beginning on Friday before traveling to Plainview on January 14.
District Duals will then follow at Collett Fieldhouse on the 16th of January before the Wildcats will have their first home dual of the season against Geary on the 23rd.
The annual Piedmont Invitational wrestling tournament will then take place on the 24-25 where the Wildcats will look to put in another strong performance from a year ago at the same tournament.
A road dual against Guthrie will then take place at the end of January before the Chickasha Invitational on the 31st.