Choctaw High School’s wrestling program is back where the Yellowjackets believed they belonged all season, atop Oklahoma’s Class 6A.
The No. 2-ranked Jackets rolled through No. 8 Ponca City, No. 4 Mustang and No. 1 Broken Arrow over the weekend to claim the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association Class 6A Dual State Wrestling Championship.
Choctaw finished the dual season with only one loss, and they set that right in the dual state finals at Shawnee’s Firelake Arena Feb. 10.
In a rematch for the title Broken Arrow led briefly with Jackson Cockrell’s 15-6 major decision against Landon Peppers at 113, but Choctaw took a 6-4 lead immediately following thanks to Colt Newton’s 8-5 win against Reece Witcraft at 126.
Gabe Johnson, who was out with a broken wrist when Choctaw lost by four points to Broken Arrow earlier this year, rolled to a 4-3 win over Blake Gonzalez at 132 pounds.
Then Connor Holman pinned Broken Arrow’s Diego Maturino with just 20 seconds left to win the 138-pound match.
Choctaw’s roster remains stacked at the heavier weights, and the Jackets again proved they’re just too big to fail as the final outcome quickly became clear.
Senior Jaryn Curry secured a crucial decision over Caleb Wise that put Choctaw up 20-8.
Then Zane Coleman secured big takedown in the final seconds to bump him up to a 9-1 lead good for the major decision.
Choctaw’s Easton Rendelman was tied 2-2 with one minute left against Broken Arrow’s Gavin Potter. And with the fate of the championship dual most likely resting on the 195-pounder, he didn’t disappoint.
Rendelman kept pushing forward and secured not one but two takedowns in the final half minute to win 8-3.
Choctaw got another big win in the match following as Choctaw’s Tony Opichka started down 0-3. He was trailing with less than 30 seconds left but managed to get under Broken Arrow’s Noah Cortez for a takedown to secure the win for Choctaw, 6-5. With that win Choctaw was up 29-11 with just the heavy and lightweight matches remaining.
The sideline and stands went wild as Choctaw was out of reach officially redeeming their only loss of the year, and securing a second dual state title in three years.
Zach Marcheselli eeked out a 3-2 heavyweight decision over Choctaw’s Caulin Poole, but that didn’t stop the celebrating as Choctaw let Broken Arrow take the 106-pound points and still won, 29-20.
Coleman was excited to secure the second dual state title of his high school career, and believes the final was a preview of the upcoming state tournament.
“I started out a little slow, but I’m glad I got a bonus and got some momentum going. This will probably be my state finals match since he’s the toughest kid at my weight,” said the 170-pound wrestler who’s currently 28-1 on the year after his only loss came at the prestigious Reno Tournament. “Last time we wrestled them we had starters out, and one bumped up a weight. So this was a big win.”
Choctaw has now won five dual state team titles, and the most recent was in 2016. In 2017, Choctaw suffered a state semi-final loss that prevented their shot at back-to-back gold.
The last time CHS claimed the Dual State Wrestling Championship, two years ago, the Jackets made history securing a trifecta as they also claimed the Wrestling State Championship and Academic State Wrestling Championship.
Obviously, there’s hope for a repeat.
“I’m still not opening up and doing what I know I can, but I got the win and that’s what matters,” said Newton. “I think we can go out and get all three state titles again.”
Choctaw head coach Benny Coleman thought his team really stepped up from the day’s earlier semi-final match. He was impressed with several key matches and feels his squad is prepared to claim some more hardware at regionals and the state tournament.
“We loosened up a little, and really opened up tonight. In the semi-final they kind of wrestled not to lose, and this time we really wrestled to win. We won some big matches, and finished out strong,” said Coleman. “This is big for these guys. They’ve been working hard. This gets them ready for state, because some of these matches will be state finals matches. They’ll make some changes and we’ll make some, but we’ll see what happens in two weeks.”
Regional wrestling is set for Feb. 16-17 and the Class 6A State Tournament is Feb. 23-24.
CHOCTAW 29, BROKEN ARROW 20
106: Jared Hill, Broken Arrow, win by forfeit. 113: Jackson Cockrell, Broken Arrow, m.d. Landon Peppers, 15-6. 120: Andy Schlaepfer, Choctaw, d. Andy Police, 5-2. 126: Colt Newton, Choctaw, dec. Reece Witcraft, 8-5. 132: Gabe Johnson, Choctaw, dec. Blake Gonzalez, 4-3. 138: Connor Holman, Choctaw, p. Diego Maturino, 5:40. 145: Brady Mattioda, Broken Arrow, m.d. Chandler Holman, 17-4. 152: Jefferson Speer, Choctaw, dec. Aeden Cottle, 3-2. 160: Jaryn Curry, Choctaw, dec. Caleb Wise, 3-1. 170: Zane Coleman, Choctaw, m.d. Bryce Mattioda, 9-1. 182: Zeno. Marcheselli, Broken Arrow, dec. Gary Dockery, 1-0. 195: Easton Rendelman, Choctaw, dec. Gavin Potter, 8-3. 220: Tony Opichka, Choctaw, dec. Noah Cortes, 6-5. 285: Zack Marcheselli, Broken Arrow, dec. Caulin Poole, 3-2