MOORE — After Thursday night’s dual with Southmoore, the Tigers can say they’ve seen one of the nation’s best wrestlers on one of the state’s better squads.
Norman High kicked off the wrestling season on Thursday with a dual at Southmoore, and Nathan Marek and the SaberCats proved they were everything they were billed as they ran away with a 48-23 victory.
Southmoore junior Marek, the defending state champion at 170 and the third-ranked wrestler in the country at that weight, was able to easily pin Lane Stephen in the first round, one of several SaberCat pins on the night.
For a NHS squad with just a few seniors on the roster, the dual was a tough but valuable way to start the season, coach Bo Maynes said.
“We wrestled all right tonight,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out there, and they did a lot tonight to build on.”
Southmoore started the night on a high note, and finished it that way as well. Conor Dooling opened the meet in a faceoff against Derek Ross at 113 pounds, and the match was tight from the start. However, Dooling was able to gain position late in the match and leveraged it into a pin on Ross to put Southmoore up 6-0.
Zac Damico, the state’s third-ranked wrestler at 113, followed that up with a quick pin against Lucus Stanfield, and NHS never got within striking distance again.
It was a complete and satisfying win for Southmoore coach Greg George, who four years ago began building the wrestling program from scratch at newly opened Southmoore. Since then, he’s built the program into a contender with plenty of depth.
“I’m not happy with everything we did tonight, but overall we did pretty well,” George said. “There were some mistakes we made and we could have done better, but you can’t put too much stock into a pre-Christmas match. We’re looking toward state.”
There were a few bright spots for the Tigers. Senior Colin Pasque, who at No. 5 at 138 pounds is NHS’ only ranked wrestler, pinned Southmoore’s Isaiah Wright to give the Tigers their first bout win of the night. Junior Isaiah Davis earned a fall in his match against Blake Haynes. Jake Stinson also earned a pin at 285 pounds, and Nigel Jollifie picked up a win for the Tigers.
For NHS, it was a much-needed night of development against a talented SaberCats squad, one that Maynes said is one of the better teams in the state.
“They may be one of the most underrated teams out there,” he said. “They’re consistent across all the weights and they have their workhorses too, some state qualifiers and champions.”