By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
Dawaylon Barnes, Jacobe Smith and the rest of the Muskogee High School wrestling team take to the mat today for the Charles Garrett Memorial Open, their annual preseason finale.
Barnes and Smith, who are juniors, achieved All-American honors this summer for finishing among the top eight wrestlers in their respective weight divisions at the USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National Tournament in Fargo, N.D.
They are the first to achieve such an honor in Bobby Jefferson’s tenure as the Roughers’ coach and they lead Muskogee onto the mat this season.
“We’ve got guys with credentials,” Jefferson said. “Their success sustains what we’re doing here. We’ve also got guys who need to get some credentials. They are the unanswered questions we have and we’re looking to see how they grow up.”
The non-scoring event, entering its 17th year, begins at 10:15 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. Jefferson estimates “25 to 30” junior high and high school teams will be represented on the two mats at Muskogee High School.
Jefferson said he and his staff will be doing “a lot of evaluating” this weekend.
“We want to see where we need to place kids in the lineup.” he said. “Our focus is still on February (and the state tournaments).”
Other returnees for the Roughers include seniors J.T. Andrews, Dacota Chambers, Nigel Harris and Dalton Harnage along with sophomores Chase Soper, Adonis Cole and James Buckhanan.
Smith, Andrews and Elijah Pettey won their respective divisions at the Broken Arrow Open last Saturday. Barnes, Harris and Matt Acee finished second.
“We’ve got some depth on this team,” Jefferson said. “We don’t know yet which weight they’ll be wrestling at. It wouldn’t be accurate right now if we did.”
Preseason state rankings by Okwrestle.com have yet to be published.
The Roughers open the regular season on Nov. 29 at home against defending Class 6A team state champion Broken Arrow.