By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
With three wrestlers winning gold medals, Bixby finished a fine season.
Freshman Clay Giddens-Buttram (113 pounds), Junior Zach Blankenship (132) and sophomore Jersey Robb (195) all finished with a perfect combined record of 84-0 en route to winning their respective weight classes.
It was a dream come true for each of them.
“It was really great,” Giddens-Buttram said. “It’s been a goal of mine for a really long time. It felt really good to finally see that happen.”
Blankenship won in 2019 as a freshman, but an elbow injury – a UCL tear – shortly before the regional tournament in his sophomore year cut short his bid to repeat. This was like redemption.
“It meant a lot,” Blankenship said. “A lot of people were kind of doubting me. They thought my injury sat me back too far. I had a really tough opponent in the state finals and a lot of people didn’t think I was going to win. So it meant a lot to have a comeback season after a year where I didn’t even get to compete at state.”
Robb won it after finishing runner-up last season.
“It was pretty amazing to go out and win it,” he said. “It was something I worked for the whole year. It was a tough year with COVID.”
Jace Roller (126) finished third and sophomore Jakeb Snyder (152) took fourth.
Junior Garrett Washington (145), freshman Hank Puckett (160), sophomore Erik McCown (170), junior Jack Puckett (182) also qualified.
As a team, the Spartans placed fifth with 98.5 points. Stillwater was the team champion with 159 points.
All three champions agreed their foe in their respective finals match was the toughest they had faced all year.
Giddens-Buttram (29-0) won a 3-1 decision against Hunter Hollingsworth (34-4) of Edmond North, also a freshman.
“He’s really technical with a lot of his stuff,” Giddens-Buttram said of Hollingsworth. “He really knows what he’s doing. I think the main thing in that match was just my shots. I really got it going in overtime and that’s how I was able to pull it out.”
Blankenship (28-0) had to go to overtime, but made a move to get points at the last second to get a 3-1 win against senior Zeke Escalera (29-2) of Moore.
“Escalera was a two-time state champion,” Blankenship said. “He was a real deal. He actually beat a couple of my teammates, so I kind of knew what to look for and I went to the match ready for it and we ended up going to overtime and I won last second. It was awesome.”
Robb won his match against senior Tate Picklow (28-2) of Mustang, who he lost to in the final last year. Picklow incurred an injury and had to succumb to a medical forfeit with less than a minute left in the match. Still, he was a strong challenge for Robb.
“Tate is a phenomenal athlete,” Robb said. “That’s why he is one of the top-ranked guys in the nation. It’s always fun to wrestle him.”
Robb and Blankenship are also members of Bixby’s state championship football team and are thrilled to be part of a title in both sports. They, along with Giddens-Buttram, say having three state champions reflects how the Spartans’ program has improved in recent years.
All three will be back next year and are preparing for another title.
“I feel that I have a chance to get better before next year. I just go out there and wrestle one match at a time,” Giddens-Buttram said.
“The key is the same as this year,” Blankenship said. “I must stay consistent and focused in practice and realize just because I’m coming off a great season doesn’t mean my next season will be just as great. I have to keep working hard.”
“I think the key has to be staying consistent with myself and continue to prove myself I’m one of the best guys that there is and just keep working hard and set new goals,” Robb said.
Spartan Quick Hit
Cayden Dawson won the Girls’ 3,200 Meter Run in the Class 6A track and field championships in May in Edmond with a time of 10:57.91.