In the center of the class 3A mat on Saturday, February 23, at the OKC Fairgrounds Arena, Neil Jarvis presented the Grove wrestling team with the State Championship wrestling trophy.
They were surrounded by parents and fans, who cheered them on.
These athletes put their heart and soul into a wrestling season that was long and tough, but they made it look easy.
The occasion marked the first time that Grove had ever captured a team state championship in wrestling.
Freshman Damien Hopper became the second Grove grappler to win a state championship when he defeated Tuttle’s Colton Roberts by a 4-3 decision. The win capped a perfect 38-0 season for the 103-pounder.
Sophomore Zach Housley captured his first state wrestling medal with a second place finish in the 112-pound class.
Grove junior Connor Sarwinski won his consolation final match over Cushing’s Tyler Evans to claim the third place medal for the 140-pound division.
Senior J.C. Housley was appearing in his third state championship tournament. The 145-pounder claimed his second state placing with a hard earned fourth place medal.
Junior Dusty Gehrke won a fourth place medal in the 160-pound class. Gehrke led the team in pins this season.
Darius Hopper was appearing in his third state tournament. The Grove senior won the third place medal in the 171-pound class with a pin over Sallisaw’s Shane Flashner.
R.J. Bartley made his second appearance in the state tournament and won second place in the heavyweight class.
Earlier in the night, the Cushing wrestlers had one last chance to tie with Grove for team points. When Cushing lost that match, no one could catch Grove, and the state championship was sealed.
After the trophy presentation Grove Head Coach John Henry Ward approached the Grove section of the grandstands and was greeted with a big hug from his favorite fan, wife Miranda. He then received a standing ovation from the wrestlers, parents, and fans. With a smile on his face he congratulated the wrestlers and their parents.
It was a great weekend and nobody wanted it to end. The parents and wrestlers appreciated the support from the huge number of fans who made the long journey to OKC.