By CLAY ALLEN
Coweta wrestling will continue to be young this season, but more experienced, as underclassmen demonstrated last season determination and drive as Head Coach Ashton Cooper enters his fourth season with the Tigers.
Basically, Coweta’s wrestling team had to wait patiently while football completed its playoff run to get the veterans on the mat. For that reason, the December matches are as much practice as they are peak competition.
“2019-2020 will be a year full of new beginnings for Coweta. This will be the first year there isn’t a kid on the team that hoisted up the 2016 Dual State championship trophy. We will see a lot of fresh faces in the lineup, but these kids are ready to compete,” Coach Cooper said.
“Most of our wrestlers never left the mat. After the State tournament in February they continued to wrestle over the spring, in the summer and into the beginning of the school year. We return four State qualifiers with one State placer, but the numbers don’t quite speak the truth with regards to the kids we have stepping on the mat this year.
“Our lone placer being Caleb Phillips, but we return three kids who took 6th at Regionals last year and every State qualifier we return should be a placer this year. We have two returning Regional finalists in Piper Pennington and Gage Hamm.
“Our team moto this year is Full Send; which means we are going to give everything we got. No one expects us to do anything this year and that is fine. We will make a lot of noise before the State tournament, as we do every year” Cooper added.
“Now that doesn’t mean it won’t take a lot of hard work or something to fall our way, but these boys are always ready to compete late in the season. We have continued to peak at the right time to put ourselves in the hunt. We have a great group of juniors and sophomores rounded off by our two seniors. These boys work hard and will battle every minute of every match!”
Led by a pair of senior veterans, Piper Pennington and Jesse McDermott are coming off the football field to the mat, needing some time through December to get really ready for serious competition.
Pennington finished 26-13 last season and has a career record of 48-55. He was a 5A Regional finalist last year and has 25 takedowns and 24 escapes. McDermott finished 17-17 and has a career record of 19-39. He was injured in the Regionals, ending his chance to advance to State. He has 28 takedowns, 36 escapes and 23 near falls.
Junior Bronson Burcham has been a 5A State qualifier each of the last two seasons, finishing last year 13-18, with a career of 19-25 with 18 escapes and 9 falls.
Junior Wesley Spohn finished 21-21 last season, with a career mark of 27-33, but he suffered a knee injury at Tulsa Hale in football and his wrestling season is in limbo facing surgery in early December. He had 41 takedowns, 40 near falls, 10 reversals and led the team in escapes last year with 43.
Other juniors on the roster include C.J. Clifton 12-12 with 27 escapes; Cole Stevens 12-12 with 25 escapes and Kamdyn Chrisman 5-17 with 21 escapes. Chrisman joins the junior class group this season.
Two sophomores, Hamm and Caleb Phillips both competed in the 5A State Tournament last year. Hamm finished 19-8 with 29 takedowns, 10 reversals and 22 near falls. Caleb Phillips was 25-13 with 21 takedowns, 16 falls, 16 escapes and 13 near falls.
Hit by the transfer bug, Tiger wrestling saw sophomore 5A State runner-up Brody Gee leave in favor of the Tulsa Cascia Hall Commandos. Gee finished 21-11 with 25 takedowns, 58 near falls and 16 falls. Junior Koby Phillips also decided not to wrestle this season.
Freshmen with a chance to make the varsity roster include Mason Kidd and Wyatt Holmes.
The season opened on Dec. 3 at McAlester, the Tigers will host Collinsville Dec. 10 before competing in the Mid-America Tournament in Enid Dec. 13-14. They return home Dec. 17 to host Glenpool at the I-High Gym and complete December in the Kansas City Stampede Dec. 20-21.
Team Statistics (2018-19)
Takedowns 312, Escapes 249, Reversals 85, Near Falls 323, Falls, 130, Wins 224.
Piper Pennington (195) – 26-13, 48-55 career, 25 takedowns, 14 near falls, 24 escapes, 9 falls, 9 reversals.
Jesse McDermott (170) – 127-17, 19-39 career, 28 takedowns, 23 near falls, 36 escapes, 6 reversals.
Bronson Burcham (113) – 13-18, 19-25 career, 5A State qualifier 2018-19, 18 escapes, 9 falls.
Wesley Spohn (120) – 21-21, 27-33 career, 41 takedowns, 40 near falls, 43 escapes, 10 reversals.
C.J. Clifton (126) – 13-19, 19-37 career, 17 near falls, 27 escapes, 9 falls.
Cole Stevens (145) – 12-12, 25 escapes, 6 falls.
Kamdyn Chrisman (120) – 5-17, 21 escapes.
Caleb Phillips (220) – 25-13, 5A State in 2019, 21 takedowns, 13 near falls, 16 escapes, 16 falls, 8 reversals.
Gage Hamm (160) – 19-8, 5A State runner-up in 2019, 29 takedowns, 22 near falls, 11 falls, 10 reversals.