By Evan Grice
Many athletes don’t have the chance to ride off into the sunset a winner.
For Piedmont senior wrestler Blane Culp though, he’ll have the chance to do just that.
Saturday night at the Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City, Culp made a lifelong dream come true as he won the 170-pound state championship at the Oklahoma State Wrestling tournament, defeating Dillion White from Lawton MacArthur by a major decision score of 11-2.
With the victory, Culp ensured he ended his career as a three-time state placer for Piedmont wrestling, and finished his senior year with a state championship, the first for the program since Aaron Hane in 2012.
“The moment I got my hand raised, it was just so awesome,” Culp said about winning his first state championship. “It’s something you just can’t even explain or put into words to be honest.”
When the final seconds began to tick down, head coach Erik Ford leaped out of his chair with an emphatic fist pump for his newly crowned state champion.
Following the match, Culp immediately ran through the arena to his family, friends and teammates who were seated just a few feet away from him as he went to embrace all of them.
“Everyone has just been a great support system for me throughout this whole process,” Culp said. “Winning a state championship has just made me feel like everything was worth it. Coach (Erik) Ford has been terrific as well. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t have him as my head coach.”
It was perhaps ironic; considering the section where his friends and family were seated was the same place he had spent most of his time before the match, rather than on the arena floor with the rest of the competitors.
“I think Blane was about as calm as anyone could have been,” Piedmont coach Erik Ford said. “He knew what the moment was about. There’s not really much I needed to say to him. Him winning was a big moment for all of us, because he’s worked so hard and done so many things right.”
Culp took the early lead at 1-0 in the first period through a technical violation on the part of White, and from that moment on he never let up.
“We weren’t exactly looking for something like that early on,” Ford said about the technical point awarded to Culp in the first period. “I was never fully given an explanation as to what happened. But, we’re not going to complain that he had an early lead like that. We’ll take points anyway we can get them.”
Culp added that the technical point eased the pressure on him a little and helped him wrestle a more comfortable match in the process.
“The early point really helped take some of the pressure off that I was feeling,” he said. “I knew I was in complete control of the match when I got my first take down and made it 3-0. After the first period I really felt good with the lead that I had going.”
Once the Wildcat senior got a comfortable lead at 3-0 with the first takedown of the match, things looked to be well in hand.
Late on though, there was a slight change of plans as White managed to get a takedown and make the score 6-2, but it wasn’t going to get any closer on the night, and the celebration was on for the Wildcat fans and everyone who was there to see Blane Culp wrestle his final match.