MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 31, 2014

Roughers respond: Muskogee has the answers in clinching dual state berth

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— Xavion Taylor had some wiggle room —  literally and figuratively —  in Muskogee’s final match  of the night.

The sophomore fought off some brief anxious moments stemming from an aggressive charge by Bixby’s Jake Stewart early to get an escape and a pair of takedowns, then sealed it with a pin in 2:13 to seal a 42-31 6A-8 clinching-victory Thursday at Ron Milam Gymnasium.

All Taylor needed to do in the 122-pound matchup was avoid getting pinned himself, and he worked himself out of the early jam to get the pin himself.

“I was just trying to get my flow going and my momentum, just go out and fight hard,” Taylor said.

It hasn’t come easy at times, nor according to plan. But the victory capped a satisfying district sweep and a berth in dual state for the first-year MHS coach John Petty and company.

“We’ve always said these three matches (Sapulpa, Bartlesville, Bixby) were the most important and that’s been our focus,” Petty said, his team 6-2 overall in duals this season. “I didn’t get us here. It’s about these guys responding and they did, and my coaching staff’s done a great job of getting them prepared.”

Pins by Bixby’s Easton Hudson and Justin Fletcher sandwiched a pin by Xavier Taylor at 134 and the Spartans were up 12-6. But the Roughers countered with two wins.

Micah Foster’s 10-6 decision at 147 against Blaine Watkins was followed by Dewaylon Barnes getting a pin with 12.8 on the first period clock at 154 against Adrian Mica. That gave Muskogee its first lead at 15-12.

Mason Thoimpson got the Spartans back on top with a major decision at 160 against Darius Lewis before James Buckhanan pinned Alec Puckett in 58 seconds at 172 for an advantage the Roughers wouldn’t lose. But the next match would prove pivotal in keeping that from happening.

Jacobe Smith wrestled up a class at 184 against Hunter Dalton, who he lost to on a defensive fall at 170 at the Jenks tournament finals.  Smith took a 7-4 lead in points to the third quarter and matched that, coming u p just shy of a major decision but giving Muskogee a 24-18 advantage in a battle of ranked opponents. Dalton was fourth by okwrestle at 170 and Smith was second at 160 coming into the match.

For Smith it was simply a chance to wrestle — something that hasn’t happened in the past couple of duals.

“Teams have been taking forfeits and my coaches asked if I wanted to wrestle up and go against (Dalton). I said ‘put me anywhere you want.’” he said. “I could go on my feet with him. It was just a matter of I wanted to go and wrestle with him or not.”

Wrestling from his feet was a shift in strategy too from the Jenks match.

“Tonight I wasn’t working on top. Last time he was grabbing, using his  fingers to break locks so I just worked on my feet this time and it went the way I wanted,” Smith said.

 Kyle Gatzman lost 12-8 to Jared Kerr at 197 to get the Spartans back within two, then another key response came from Elijah Pettey at 222, who pinned Cody Adams in 3:37.

Lantz Woodburn’s victory in 1:26 at 108 put the Roughers in a position where only pins on the last two matches would deny them the win. Steven Ray got one in 3:00 against Devonta Miller at 115, but there wouldn’t be a second.

“I wasn’t worried at all,” Xavion Taylor said.

Neither was his coach.

“He did a great job scrambling and he’s wrestled on a national level so we felt confident he’d get out of that situation,” Petty said.

Adonis Cole at 287 lost a narrow 3-0 decision against Bixby’s Nic Roller and Zephy Johnson was pinned in 1:16 at 140 against the Spartans’ Justin Fletcher in other matches.

Muskogee is at Blackwell in tournament play on Saturday then wraps up the dual season next week against Sand Springs and Stillwater, both on the home mat.