By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Broken Arrow capped off another phenomenal year on the mats as it swept the 6A state wrestling championships for the second straight year and 11th in program history in February. Plus, the girls’ program had a successful campaign in its debut season as four wrestlers earned gold medals.
Both teams did it under first-year coaches Rodney Jones, who served as an assistant to his brother Shawn in previous years, and Cassidy Jasperson, who was a college standout at Oklahoma City University.
The Tigers won dual state with a 30-26 win against Mustang on Feb. 15 in Enid. Sophomore Parker Witcraft sealed it for them when he won by technical fall in the 113-pound match.
Two weeks later, Broken Arrow racked up 163.5 points to win the team title at the state tournament in Oklahoma City. Mustang was runner-up (133.5).
Senior Jackson Cockrell (126 pounds), junior Emmanuel Skillings (195) and sophomore Bryce Mattioda (170) won state titles. It was the second straight for Skillings.
There were also three runners-up and one third-place finish for the Tigers.
Juniors Allison Hynes (118), Abby Lasiter (161), Olivia Brown (215) and sophomore Ki’esha Cathey (185) captured state championships, all by pins, for the Lady Tigers. Broken Arrow also had one third-place finish from Ana Barnoski (147).
Since girls’ wrestling is just now picking up and most contenders came from schools yet to have teams, brackets were not divided by classes. Although no titles were given based on team standings, the Lady Tigers declared themselves state champions in that manner since they captured the most gold medals.
Each wrestler explained what they felt was the key to their victories.
Cockrell (37-9), who will be wrestling collegiately at Maryland, won his final with a 14-6 major decision against Sand Springs’ Seth Jones.
“I had to keep pressure on him 100 percent of the time in the whole match,” Cockrell said.
It was the first state title for Cockrell. He was runner-up last year.
“I was excited because I had been working ever since my freshman year for that and I got it.” he said.
Cockrell’s triplet brother Bryce (32-19), who will be going further northeast to Long Island, finished third in the 120-pound bracket.
“I did everything right. It just didn’t workout in my favor,” Bryce Cockrell said. “But it was big coming back and getting third place and it was big for team points. It helps the team out a lot for winning a team title.”
The Cockrell brothers also have a triplet sister, Alexandria, who wrestled this season for the Tiger girls.
Mattioda (38-5) won the 170 final with a 7-2 win against Zeke Edwards of Choctaw. He attributes his success to his concentration.
“I just focused really hard and I just had to have that approach through the whole season, to push myself past my limits so I could finally win a state title,” he said.
Skillings (39-5), pinned Mustang’s Jack Kitchingham at 1:26 into the match.
“I think the key to getting pins for me is letting it fly,” Skillings said. “Because usually when I’m tense and not wrestling to the best of my abilities, I don’t get that many pins. But when I’m loose and letting it fly and going with the flow, that’s when I get a pin. I just went out there, ready to go, loose, and got the pin.”
Over on the girls’ side, not only did each champ force falls in their finals matches, they went through their brackets with pins.
“I think the whole tournament was just a good start to keep on growing girls’ wrestling,” Hynes said. “It was just exciting to start off right and get three more champions right after me.”
Hynes (29-1), pinned Guthrie’s Khaleah Kirk at 4:57 into the 118 final. She pointed out her experience as a key to winning.
Lasiter (26-3) won 161 by pinning McLoud’s Ashley Shoenecke 19 ticks into the match.
“I just like to end my matches as fast as I can so I can save my energy for the next one,” Lasiter said. “Winning state is super special and I feel like I’m a part of history,”
Cathey (29-2) faced Moore’s Ryan Rumsey at 3:49 in the 185 final. She said believing in herself was key.
“My coaches kept encouraging me,” Cathey said. “Wrestling is like a mental sport. It’s just you and the opponent on the mat. Whenever you are on the mat, you have to let all your nervousness and doubt go out the window and go out there and do it.”
And Brown, who finished a perfect 25-0, defeated Warner’s Tori French at the 1:35 mark to win the 215 title.
Hard work and practice is what paid off for her, she said.
“I’ve been doing it for a while, so I have a little more experience than some of the other girls in the field,” said Brown, who came to Broken Arrow from Holland Hall. “But I work a little harder as well.”