Coach Jones wrestles schedule to find competition
UPDATE: BA 37, Mustang 26
Like the rest of the Broken Arrow Tiger wrestling schedule, a weekend that starts with Thursday’s dual at Mustang has taken on a change.
What was originally going to include a trip to the nation’s oldest wrestling tournament – Geary Invitational – now will feature an expanded tournament in Jenks. The Geary tournament, like the Iron Man in Ohio and the KC Duals in Missouri, has fallen victim to the still-raging pandemic.
The Geary cancelation is what has become the norm in a season of change for Coach Rod Jones and the state’s reigning Class 6A Dual and Team State champions.
“Four out of the five tournaments we usually go to collapsed and the fifth one changed to an alternative date,” Jones said. “We’re trying to stay one week ahead. My intention is to get into as many competitions as we possibly can.
“It’s not just 14 main dudes. It’s a group of 20 to 23 guys, and we have done a good job to this point of getting them matches, so some of these (younger) kids are ready to fill in spots the following year.”
The Larry Wilke Invitational in Jenks has increased its field form 16 teams to 24, due mainly to the canceling of the Geary Invitational. By incorporating a blind draw, it’s also going to have a Geary look and feel.
“I love that because it’s non-traditional,” Jones said of the non-seeded format. “We want competition and that’s all we really care about. It’s filling a spot where we have some west side schools coming that may have some tough kids that we need to see.”
Jones knows he’ll see “some tough kids” at Mustang, a team that finished runner-up to the Tigers in the team state championship last season and lost to BA the last two seasons – semifinals in 2019 and finals in 2020 – at Dual State.
“Mustang’s been trying to beat us for a while,” Jones said. “I would think they would want to beat us more than they would want to beat anybody else. I know I would want to beat them if everything was flipped.
“They have a good group. We’re looking forward to the competition, so when the postseason gets here, I’m confident our kids are battle tested.”
Like the Tigers regular season, the 2021postseason is experiencing a change from its original schedule, the Oklahoma Second School Activities Association announced Wednesday. The boys regional tournament will be Feb. 12-13, which was the original Dual State weekend. The OSSAA State Championships is set for Feb. 25-27, two weeks after regionals instead of the traditional week following. Dual State will cap the 2020-2021 season March 12-13.