By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Latter rounds of a wrestling match always begin with both players kneeling on the mat, one player’s arms clinched around the other. The clinching player might have an easier time getting his opponent to the ground for a pin, but the clinched player can pick up a point by breaking the clinch and escaping.
McAlester senior Hunter Scott likes getting clinched. He can not only break clinches with ease, but he’s made a career of turning around and getting the quick takedown, turning one point into three.
“He has the best stand-up in the room,” Buffs coach Tim Thomas said Feb. 6. “He doesn’t always believe in it, (but) I mean he should, he should definitely. That’s by far his best thing. Getting on the bottom is important — it’s awful hard to score, for your opponent, if you’re never on the bottom.”
Scott was born in Muskogee, but he said he’s lived in McAlester and Blocker his whole life. He went to Crowder until the fifth grade, spent three years in McAlester Public Schools, then spent a year at Quinton before returning to McAlester in the ninth grade.
He said his wrestling career began in the first grade.
“I remember my dad picked me up and told me we were going to wrestling practice,” Scott said. “But I don’t remember any wrestling.”
Scott wrestled for McAlester in the seventh grade, then tried to at Quinton the next year. He said he didn’t like the team’s small size, so he returned to McAlester a year later to start high school.
“It was cool starting on varsity as a freshman,” Scott said.
Wrestling is a family activity for Scott. His cousin Brandon Beck wrestled for the Buffaloes, placing at State in 1988 and 1989. This season, Scott’s been able to wrestle with younger brothers Blake, a junior, and Cody, a freshman.
“Cody’s doing well as a freshman, too,” Scott said.
“You need somebody behind you, pushing you. My dad ... he’s always just making me be better.”
While Scott said he maintained his weight his freshman year and competed at 112 pounds, he struggled to do so the following season. He said started the season at 140 pounds, successfully dropped to 113, but then got sick around Christmas and had to stop competing with the Buffs.
Scott said he still practiced with McAlester, but to stay in competitive form that year he went to tournaments run by the Oklahoma Kids Wrestling Association, an independent youth league. He wrestled in the 126-pound class in OKWA.
“That’s what I grew up wrestling,” Scott said of OKWA. “I ended up winning it at the end of the year.”
The year away from high school wrestling may have been good for Scott, as he dominated the 126-pound weight class his junior year. He went 22-10, placed fourth at Regionals and made State for the first time.
State that year didn’t go as planned, with Scott exiting after back-to-back losses. Scott said he wasn’t as mentally prepared as he should’ve been, but that lesson will help him this postseason, which starts Friday at Regionals at Tahlequah.
“I’m trying to win it this year,” Scott said. “I’ve won a lot this year. I’ve only lost like five matches out of 35.”
If Scott can get to State, he’ll have done so in two different classes. He wrestled at 132 pounds this season, taking a more defensive approach to his matches.
“I’m more defensive on my feet, but I can be offensive when I need to be,” Scott said. “Just observing them and feeling them out.”
However the postseason goes, Scott’s high school wrestling career will end within the next two weeks. He said he’d like to go college next year, his top choice being Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, and study sports medicine.
“It’s kind of small,” Scott said of NEO. “It’s not too far. They’ve got a good wrestling team.”
Scott added, “I want to live in Alaska. I like the cold.”
For Scott, wrestling has been an opportunity to be part of a team and travel around the state. It may be a small opportunity, but he’s found a way to turn it into a major benefit.
That’s how Scott wrestles.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.