Broken Arrow Tigers Prepare for Another Successful Wrestling Season

GTR Sports Writer

WRESTLING CHAMPION: Broken Arrow wrestler Emmanuel Skillings stands on the podium after winning state at 195 pounds last season. He returns to the Tigers.

Another season on the mat is here for Broken Arrow High Schooland it is ready to gun for another pair of state championships. 
Seven state qualifiers, including two first-place medalists, graduated last year.
Senior Emmanuel Skillings is Broken Arrow’s lone returning state champion. He won the 195 pound weight class last season. Returning state finalists are senior Jared Hill (138 pounds) and junior Christian Forbes (106 pounds), 
State qualifiers back are seniors Blazik Perez (132), along with juniors Parker Witcraft (113) and Chris Moores (145). 
Junior Jordan Cullors also returns after sitting out last season due to a knee injury. He was a state finalist in Class 5A as a freshman for Collinsville in 2019, then came to Broken Arrow last year. 
“I can speak for all of them by saying that the character of this year’s team is a good group of wrestlers that understand to be at a certain level in accordance to where you want to be, and they understand that,” said coach Rodney Jones, who enters his second year as head coach after many years as an assistant. 
“This team is going to be a senior heavy team for the third year in a row,” Jones said.
“We got some guys projected in the lineup that might have not been consistent varsity starters, but they’re really good,” Jones said. “And I’m expecting them to step up and prove it on the mat.
I feel good about them, because, overall, the entire group has bought into everything that we’re doing.
“They’re in pretty good shape,” Jones added. “They’ll work as hard as you want them to work for as long as you want them to work. That’s always a good characteristic.”
Broken Arrow has won the team and dual state championships the past two seasons and will be gunning for a third straight.
The Tigers are also grateful they were able to get their state meets in two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic intervened with high school athletics last March. 
“We were very fortunate, very blessed and very grateful,” Jones said. “We’re operating under conditions that we take very seriously and we’re not writing it off or treating it as something that could be ignored.”
The team is following protocols of taking temperatures, doing surveys before every practice, etc. 
“We’re desanitizing and resanitizing our rooms. I told the guys ‘we want to be the best team in the nation, but let’s try to have the cleanest room.’ So, we’re taking every precaution possible. Coaches are also wearing masks in practice.”
Broken Arrow has competed in three tournaments to start the season – its own Broken Arrow Open, the Bixby Open and the Union Open. It hosted Stillwater for a duel on Dec. 8. Broken Arrow then took to the road to wrestle in tournaments in Enid (Dec. 11) and Shawnee, Kan. (Dec. 18).
They’ve had other events canceled because of COVID-19.
Mustang, Choctaw, Stillwater, Edmond Deer Creek and Edmond North are expected to be some of the toughest challengers en route to BA’s quest for a title.
“Once again, there is going to be a lot of good in-state competition,” Jones said. “Were going to have to make sure we are ready to bat.”
As the calendar turns to 2021 next month, Broken Arrow has duels scheduled at Mustang (Jan. 7), at Union (Jan. 12), at home against Collinsville (Jan. 26) and at Owasso (Jan. 28). It will wrestle in tournaments in Geary (Jan. 8-9), Liberty, Mo. (Jan. 16), district duels in Norman (Jan. 21) and Pryor (Jan. 29-30). Duel State, along with the regional and state tournaments will take place in February.  
“This season is going to be more than just about wrestling. It’s going to be about management,” Jones said.