By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Dalton Rippy, Riley Smith, Donald Cannon and Hunter Smith all placed high enough at Saturday’s regional tournament to qualify for the Class 5A state tournament which starts Friday at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
The first round of competition starts at 8:30 a.m., then continues through to the finals Saturday, starting at 5:45 p.m.
Competing in the 126-pound weight class, Cannon heads to State on a month’s worth of momentum. He won both the Bishop Kelley Invitational the weekend of Jan. 31 and the Maverick Conference Tournament a week later before winning Regionals on Saturday.
Going 34-1 this season, Cannon, a senior, enters State as the defending state champion at 120 pounds and the top seed from the East. He’ll face Michael Lopez, a junior from Piedmont who went 22-7 this season, in the first round.
“I’ve really just pushed for points and tried to get matches over with,” Cannon said. “Get big scores, help the team out.”
Like Cannon, junior Riley Smith will compete at State for the third time. A year after finishing third at State in 195 pounds, Riley went 16-4 at 220 pounds this season and finished third at Regionals.
Riley Smith will face Garrett Shaw, a junior from MacArthur who went 41-3 this season, in the first round.
“You have to be a smarter wrestler when you get to State,” Riley said. “It’s not like a usual tournament, where if you get caught, it’s fine, you have the next match to prove yourself. At State, if you lose, you’re going to have to deal with it for the rest of the tournament.”
Rippy made State at 106 pounds last season and did so again this season. Rippy went 12-4 this season and finished fourth at Regionals.
Rippy faced Briar Adams in the first round of the 2013 state tournament, and Rippy will face him again on Friday. Adams, a senior from MacArthur, went 33-8 during the regular season.
“I was beating him, and then I threw my legs in and went over the top and he pinned me,” Rippy said of last year’s match against Adams. “But I was beating him by points ... It’s the only move I knew last year.”
Rippy added he enters Friday’s competition with an undiagnosed right knee injury. He said he’ll seek treatment after the tournament.
Hunter Smith, a freshman who’ll compete at State for the first time, went 24-13 at 113 pounds this season and placed third at Regionals. He’ll face Wyatt Adams, a freshman from MacArthur who went 28-6 this season, in the first round.
Hunter said studying film from matches he’s lost this season has really helped him improve and prepare for State.
“Get my head out of bad positions and move,” Hunter said.
“Keep it up, not down.”
Hunter Scott and Blake Scott both finished sixth in their weight classes at Regionals, making them alternates for the state championships. For either to make State, Buffs coach Tim Thomas said two wrestlers from the East would have to drop out of Hunter or Blake’s weight class.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Thomas said no such dropouts had taken place.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.