CASCIA HALL’S NATHAN MARTIN: Cascia Hall’s Nathan Martin battles Tuttle’s Brandon Mason in the Class 4A state 285-pound championship match last February.
Courtesy SHARON KING GRIMM
Wrestling is well underway this season in the Tulsa area, and it is worth noting some of last year’s action.
Three wrestlers from Tulsa were crowned state champions in their respective weight classes last winter in Oklahoma City. Two of them come from a school that has been a power since the dawn of the millennium; another comes from a program trying to rekindle a tradition.
Then-sophomore, now junior, Jerome Townsell of Edison Preparatory Academy was the 170-pound champion in Class 5A. He won a 6-1 decision against Lawton MacArthur’s Donovan Washington.
The Eagles placed 10th in the team standings with 21 points, marking the second year it finished in the top 10.
In Class 4A, Cascia Hall was runner-up to Tuttle in the team standings with 94 points. The state champion Tigers racked up 200 points. But the Commados got championship wins from then-seniors Scout Skidgel and Nathan Martin and 145 and 285 pounds, respectively. Both wrestlers have since graduated.
Townsell’s name was posted on the Edison marquee after winning state, being congratulated.
“It makes me feel like I got to work hard and keep my consistency,” Townsell said, smiling. “I got a target on my back now.”
Taking state had been his main goal for Townsell since the start of the year. Among his top accomplishments was beating Zach Marcheselli of Broken Arrow, who won the 182-pound title in 6A, twice, was among his top highlights. Townsell beat Marcheselli in tournaments at Pryor and Bishop Kelley.
Townsell finished the year 43-2, with one of his losses coming to the wrestler he beat in the final. He incurred a loss in overtime to Washington earlier in the season at a tournament in Coweta.
“I had a target on (Washington) after he beat me,” Townsell said. “Beating him made me a lot happier that the first loss didn’t mean anything. It made me upset that I lost to him like that in Coweta and it pushed me to go harder at state.”
Skidgel, who has moved on to wrestle at the Naval Academy, pinned Sallisaw’s Woody Click at 3:28 into the match, which is 32 seconds left in the second period. Martin also forced a fall to win his title, doing it to Brandon Mason of Tuttle at the 5:23 mark – 37 ticks left in the match.
Skidgel repeated as a state champion after winning it for the first time last year as a junior.“I knew I could beat (Click) because I wrestled him when we dueled Sallisaw earlier this year, and I beat him pretty bad.” Skidgel said. “So I knew as long as I had my mind right and I wrestled like I could, that I could beat him again.”
It didn’t come as easy as it might have in the earlier meet. Skidgel had a 10-3 advantage early in the second period, but did have a moment where Click flipped him on his back. Skidgel countered with a reverse before eventually getting the pin. He completed his senior season with a 39-2 record.
Skidgel’s brother, Tanner, was also a state champion in 2015 as a freshman. The younger Skidgel returned to the final last February as a sophomore, battling for the 132-pound title. This time he came up short as he lost 5-0 to Tuttle’s Tanner Littrell.
Not having his brother win a state title with him was hard for Scout Skidgel.
“I felt bad for him. But he’ll learn from it and he’ll wrestle better next year,” the older Skidgel said in an interview last March.
Beating someone from Tuttle was a big highlight for Martin, since the Tigers are known for being a longtime powerhouse on the mat.
Martin was nervous before the match for two reasons. One, it was the final. Two, he never wrestled Mason before.
“I didn’t know his niches,” said Martin, also the center for the football team. “It was a tough match.”
In that bout, the wrestlers were even on their feet in the first period. Martin did an escape and a takedown before giving up an escape to get a 3-1 lead. With a 5-2 advantage in the third period, Martin knew what to do from there.
“I was riding him out,” he said. “I felt him reach back like he was going to roll me and I was just waiting for it. And right when he went to roll me, I stuck in a half-nelson and just rotated towards his head and got the pin. So it was kind of cool. It was a cool way to end it. The way it ended was like a fairy-tale.”
It was also the last moment of sports glory for Martin. He declined offers to play college football with intent on focusing on his education.