By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Cascia Hall senior Eli Griffin made school history in February when he captured a first place medal for a fourth straight year, winning the 126-pound weight class at the Class 3A state tourney in Oklahoma City.
Griffin won the final by technical fall against Zach Dawson of Marlow at 4:22 in the match. He is the first wrestler at Cascia Hall to become a four-time state champion since Mike Bizzle did it from 2002-05. Another Cascia Hall wrestler, junior E.J. Tecson won the 145-pound weight class with an 11-3 major decision against Bryson Hughes of Marlow.
“It’s exciting and relieving,” Griffin said. “It’s been a goal of mine ever since I was in elementary school. It’s also just more motivation to realize that in the figure-scale of things for sports, high school state titles doesn’t mean anything in college and I’ve got to keep working hard.”
Griffin has signed with California Baptist to wrestle in college.
“I’m just excited because I know it’s going to be tough,” Griffin said. “I’ve been told by so many college wrestlers how tough college wrestling is compared to high school and I’m just excited for the competition day in and day out. I can’t wait for the challenges because I live for the hard moments and the grueling practices. That’s what makes living fun.”
The key to winning another title, Griffin said, was just wrestling his style in his finals match.
“I just went out there, relaxed and had fun because I knew that if I wrestle as I should, I knew I wouldn’t have any problem and I would do what I needed to do to make my dreams come true,” Griffin said.
The team did have to deal with challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, from quarantines to distractions with tournaments being moved around. But they were excited in the long-term to get their season in. Griffin was also glad to get his title last year since the state tourney occurred two weeks before sports events, including the OSSAA state basketball tournament, were getting canceled due to COVID.
“It was definitely like a ‘Praise God’ moment after we heard that because it was so close to state and we’re just thankful,” Griffin said.
Griffin is the third wrestler to be a four-time state champion under legendary coach Ernie Jones, besides he and Bizzle, former Oklahoma State standout and Olympian Kenny Monday also accomplished the feat under Jones at Booker T. Washington from 1977-80.
“It’s awesome and just motivating because I know I can be there too and that’s my goal. So I know with my coach behind me and my dad, every coach that has been in my life, I know I can make them proud by achieving my goal and being an Olympic champ,” Griffin said.
Griffin sees a good future for Cascia Hall wrestling.
“I’m excited because we’re going to be tough,” he said. “We got tougher this year and there are good hard-working kids on the team. The thing I’m going to miss about it is the tournaments, hanging out, making memories and just being a role model for the younger guys.”
Private School Quick Hits
Bishop Kelley boys win state for third straight year. Girls finish runner-up: Bishop Kelley won the Class 5A boys state meet for the third straight year, winning it with 332 points. Midwest City Carl Albert took second with 255.5 points. Individually, senior Sam Duda won the 500-yard freestyle event with a time of 4:55.20. The Comets also got wins in the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays, respectively with times of 1:30.60 and 3:17.62. Both teams consist of junior Ian Wilson, Duda, senior Tyler Hoang and sophomore Preston Hoang. On the girls’ side, Kelley won the event with 225 points as Carl Albert took the title with 241. Freshman Alex Lane won first place in the girls’ 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:19.46. Kelley also won the 200-yard medley and freestyle relays respectively with times of 2:01.02 and 1:48.53. Both teams consisted of senior Abbey Mink, sophomore Regan Holt, junior Allison Andrews and Lane.
Cascia Hall also had an individual state champion swimmer in the 5A girls’ meet. Freshman Ella Newhouse won the 200-yard intermediate event with a time of 2:16.02.