OKLAHOMA CITY – El Reno High School head coach Tyrone Lewis wanted to celebrate his 39th birthday with a mat party filled with younger wrestlers from his Indians team in last week’s dual season opener.
“The whole idea as a coaching staff was this would be a good opportunity to get some of our new guys some experience against a gritty opponent,” said Lewis.
The only problem - U.S. Grant brought the wrong gift.
The Generals used two El Reno forfeits and four wins in the first seven weights to build up a 28-6 lead and force Lewis to make some on-the-go adjustments.
“That’s a gritty team (Generals) and they do a good job every year of putting together a solid lineup. It just so happened things didn’t go our way early and we had to make some adjustments midway and it worked out,” said Lewis.
Down by 22 points going into the 152-pound bout, El Reno reeled off five straight falls and a decision on points to rally for a 38-34 win over the Generals.
“Honestly, I didn’t think about it, but you want to finish the day off on a good note and have a great birthday and luckily we got the win,” said Lewis about not wanting to lose on his birthday.
El Reno’s upperclassmen made sure that would not happen as senior Jacob Catagas got the rally started with a 1:34 fall over Jeremiah Barkus at 152 pounds. Junior Cole Thomas followed with a 2:49 fall over Angel Acosta at 160 pounds and Kord LaFoe pinned Nate Pauley at the 3:22 mark of their 170-pound bout.
El Reno took its first lead at 182 pounds, 30-28, as Jacob Law scored a 1:24 fall. Johnnie Perkins then added to the mark with a 19-4 technical fall over Jesus Cruz. Kaden Bowers then went three rounds with Jose Eparza at 220 pounds to secure an 11-7 win and a 38-28 lead.
U.S. Grant won the final match as heavyweight Hector Vargus pinned Rafe Goucher at the 5:19 mark in a match which was tied 2-all at the end of two periods.
“We are fortunate to have the depth and the leadership to make the adjustments needed. The guys showed good poise and character to go out there and do what was expected of them,” said Lewis.