MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 17, 2014

Muskogee struggles against former coach in home loss

By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer

— When the Union Redskins stepped on to the mat at Ron Milam Gymnasium on Thursday, it was the first time that former Roughers’ associate head coach Dan Jefferson had returned to his alma mater.

When he left, Jefferson, who is now an assistant at Union, was quick to point out who you work for is more important than where you used to work as the Redskins beat the Roughers 54-16.

“This was a business trip,” Jefferson said. “We wanted to come out strong and come out fast and we didn’t want to let up. We wanted to get them on the ropes and finish it.”

Jefferson, who left MHS last summer after his dad, former MHS wrestling coach Bobby Jefferson, was replaced by John Petty, maintained all week this was strictly business.

“The focus was our guys performing well and going out and competing,” Dan said. “And that’s the result we got.”

His dad, who stepped down last fall as athletic director, was in attendance.

From the start, it looked like the Roughers were not focused as Union, 2-2 and No. 6 in the Class 6A dual rankings, earned pins in the first three bouts of the night, which started at 122 pounds, to grab an 18-0 advantage. By the time that Muskogee’s Dawaylon Barnes earned an 8-0 major decision over Isaac Barr at 145, the No. 9 Roughers (4-2) were trailing 21-4.

“The only thing I would be able to say is that people weren’t mentally ready,” Barnes said. “They thought they were ready with the hype but they weren’t ready inside themselves.”

Union’s Colby Wilson helped the Redskins push their advantage to 27-4 with a pin of Darius Lewis at 152. Muskogee’s Jacobe Smith won by forfeit to cut the deficit to 27-10, but that would be as close as the Roughers would get as Union put the dual away with three straight pins for an insurmountable 45-10 lead.

“I’m not taking anything away from Union, they wrestled well,” Petty said. “As a coach, I failed to get my team mentally ready.”

The last points that Muskogee registered would come when Elijah Pettey pinned Javen Cinocca with 16.9 seconds remaining in the first period, leaving the score at 45-16.

“To look up and see that score, that says it all,” Petty said. “I love the sport – it teaches you about yourself. You’re out there by yourself with nobody to blame and we have nobody to blame but us. Union beat us. They put it on us.”

As far as his old mentor returning and possibly affecting the team’s performance, Barnes was quick to point out that it made no difference.

“I don’t believe it was the coaching staff,” he said. “It was the fault of the wrestlers. When I was out there wrestling and heard my old coach’s voice and I looked up and saw him coaching somebody else, it hurt on the inside. It made me more mad and made me want to work harder.

“I want the team to take this whooping and learn from it. I can count (on one hand) how many people didn’t get pinned. That’s what they need to look at.”