By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – It was a dream come true for former Oklahoma State wrestler Obenson Blanc.
A member of the Team USA wrestling program since 2009, the ex-Cowboy known as Obe punched his ticket to his second world championships with a sweep in the best-of-three series final against Angel Escobedo Saturday in front of the loud hometown crowd in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“That was the best. I’m grateful that I got a chance to compete here again,” said Blanc, who came up just short of qualifying for the Olympic team in 2012. “We never thought we’d compete here, so this is two big things for me – making a world team and competing in Gallagher-Iba in front of the fans. Love it.”
Blanc, facing the fifth seed out of the challenge tournament, scored two takedowns in the opening period of his first match and rode the pair of two-point moves to a 4-0 victory.
After wrestling three matches earlier in the day while Blanc sat and awaited his challenger – having won the U.S. Open in April – Escobedo couldn’t do much against the fresh former Cowboy in the second match either. Escobedo was awarded one point in the second for stalling, but a takedown in the second by Blanc propelled him to a 3-1 win.
“If you don’t give up points, and you score, you’re going to win. It’s simple math,” Blanc said. “That was my goal – score my points, keep him from scoring and see what happens. You’re going to win if you score and he doesn’t. It’s that simple.”
Now the former Oklahoma State wrestler – who competed at OSU for just one year but still trains in Stillwater with John Smith and his coaching staff – will look to the world championships which will be held September in Budapest, Hungary. It will be his second time on the world team, and his first since 2010.
“He’s got to recognize that he had a pretty good tournament when he was there in ‘10 and remember how he got beat, which was a case where he was in a good position, but he got caught and thrown and ended his tournament,” Smith said. “He’s had success at the world championships and he needs to keep that in mind as he prepares for the journey to Budapest.”
Blanc, the top-ranked U.S. wrestler at 55 kilograms, will have to carry the torch for the Cowboy wrestling program as the only former OSU wrestler to qualify for the world team.
“Between him and Jordan (Oliver) and Coleman Scott, he’s kind of the one that gets overlooked and here we find him representing our program and representing the United State at the world teams,” Smith said.
But Blanc won’t be alone in his quest.
Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott, who tore a pectoral muscle in his first match Friday, was one of the first people to congratulate Blanc after winning his second match.
“The feelings I have for Obe and what we’ve been through for the last four years, I’m just as happy as if I’d made it watching him make it,” said Scott, who was wearing a “Team Blanc” T-shirt, along with his wife and many OSU wrestlers. “... Now I’m going to do everything in my power to get him ready for worlds. The focus solely switches to him for these next couple of months.”
And in Blanc’s mind, his journey going forward won’t only be for himself, but will also be for his fallen compatriot and friend.
“To see him like that, I was just like, ‘All right buddy, we’ve been doing all this training, I’m going to do my best to keep our goal going and to get this,’” Blanc said. “It sucks not being on the team with him. ... We’re like family. We’re an extremely tight group.”