By Evan Grice
This weekend, it truly is do or die for the Piedmont wrestlers.
With the regional tournament comes a golden opportunity for Wildcats to make a dream come true by making it to the state wrestling tournament, it also brings the possibility of what might have been.
Matches will begin Friday morning at Del City High School, with a deep field and tough competition expected in every weight class.
“It’s really just another tournament when you look at it,” Piedmont coach Erik Ford said. “We just want to make sure we stay fresh and are mentally prepared. If we go about business as usual then we should be just fine.”
Having been to the state tournament as a competitor, Coach Ford has fond memories of the regional tournament from his time on the mat.
“The biggest deal is that you have wrestled from the first week of November until now,” he said. “This is where the fun starts and where you can make a name for yourself. That was always the exciting part for me getting to wrestle the best in the state and show what I was made of.”
“The regional consolation finals is the most emotional round of wrestling you will ever see,” Ford added. “When a guy wins you are happy for him because he’s made state. When he loses then you hurt for him. As a competitor it was easy for me because I controlled by own fate. As a coach, it’s a lot harder. Your heart rate goes up and down a lot, it’s intense.”
Multiple Wildcat wrestlers have the chance to qualify for state with Reece Henry, Blane Culp, Brody Largent and Coulton Parker among those in contention.
“I’ve arguably got the toughest bracket this weekend,” Parker said. “That’s mainly because of how deep it is. But, if I wrestle my best like I know I can, I feel like I can win the whole thing. If we have the right mindset we could send anywhere from just a couple of us to possibly eight or nine to state.”
“I expect big things out of these kids,” Ford said. “Blane has done a great job leading by example these past four years. He’s a great kid and I think his work ethic has rubbed off on these kids. We want all of these kids to have a solid mentality going into this weekend.”