PITTSBURGH -- Based on the slate of matchups, it was expected that the seniors from Oklahoma would come through with a victory over those from the WPIAL during the preliminary dual meet of the 40th annual Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic. Eight straight victories between 138 and 220 assured the Sooner State seniors of the dual meet triumph. It was a reverse outcome of the last time these teams met in the Dapper Dan preliminary, back in 1979, when the WPIAL squad earned victories in seven of twelve bouts to earn a 28-24 victory.
The dual meet started out well enough for the home-standing WPIAL squad, as Pitt signee Brendan Price (Canon-McMillan) earned an 11-5 victory at 113 pounds. Price, a 2013 state qualifier, scored five takedowns to the one for returning state placer Braden Bennett (Locust Grove).
Countering with a victory at 120 for Oklahoma was two-time state runner-up Jacob Findley (Collinsville). He countered an initial takedown for state placer Brendan Hasson (Belle Vernon) with a reversal and two-point near fall for a 4-2 lead after the first period. A scoreless second period, as matches in the preliminary dual meet had two periods of 2:30 each, would make that the final score in favor of Findley.
The preliminary dual meet's most anticipated match was next, as No. 20 at 132 Cub Yeager (Locust Grove) would face No. 11 Dom Forys (North Allegheny) at 126 pounds. Yeager, a three-time state champion and two-time All-American in Junior Greco-Roman, would upend the two-time state placer and Super 32 Challenge runner-up Forys 8-7.
Yeager opened the match's scoring with a takedown off a headlock toss, and then earned two more points on a cradle. Forys countered that cradle for a reversal of his own, before Yeager earned an escape to end the initial period with a lead. Forys would earn a pair of takedowns, which was sandwiched by a Yeager takedown on a counter to a pancake attempt, but it was not enough.
"You never know what positions will end up happening on your feet," said Yeager about how his Greco-Roman experience helps in scholastic wrestling. "Whatever is there is there, and you just take it. All the styles (freestyle, Greco-Roman, etc.) are helpful, and it all works out in the end."
Bouncing back from that match, it was three-time state placer Tyler Smith (Franklin Regional) -- who is ranked No. 11 nationally -- coming through with a 12-4 major decision over state placer Justin Fletcher (Bixby) to give the WPIAL a 7-6 dual meet lead, their last of the evening. Smith scored five takedowns in the second period to augment his initial takedown in the first period, and earn Outstanding Wrestler honors for the WPIAL squad.
The eight match Oklahoma winning streak started at 138 pounds, as four-time state champion Will Steltzen (Collinsville) used takedowns in each period to outlast state placer Tyler Buckiso (Peters Township) for a 4-1 victory. As a result, Oklahoma took a 9-7 lead in the dual meet, which would stand through the rest of the matches.
The Sooner State streak continued in the next bout, as four-time state finalist -- and state champion each of the last two years -- Jonce Blaylock (Berryhill) scored a second period takedown in his 2-1 victory over state placer Grant Fetchet (South Fayette).
With the dual meet score 12-7, things started to get really out of reach after No. 19 Dakota Head (Tuttle) came up with a pin at the 2:56 mark against state champion Steven Edwards (Burrell). Head had scored a four-point move in the first period off a toss to take a 4-1 lead after that stanza, and then got the pin off a similar move early in the second period.
"I was looking to get off to a strong start and score big," said Head, who earned Outstanding Wrestler honors for the Oklahoma squad. "It feels pretty good (to get a pin over the Pennsylvania state champion, which was something he did not even know about Edwards)."
Extending the lead was state champion and Oklahoma State signee Jacobe Smith (Muskogee), who scored a 10-3 victory over state placer Jonathan Avon (North Hills). Smith had three takedowns in the first period and two in the second period, as the dual meet score lead extended to two touchdowns at 21-7.
Joining older brother Jordan Rogers, who scored a fall for Team USA in the 2012 Dapper Dan, it was Chandler Rogers (Stillwater) doing the same. This time it came in the preliminary bout, as the No. 6 ranked 170 pound wrestler pinned state runner-up Kyle Coniker (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) at the 1:16 mark.
A trio of Edmond North wrestlers came through with victories in the next three bouts to push the dual meet score out to 37-7 with one last match remaining. No. 11 at 220 Lance Dixon upended two-time state placer Terrell Fields (Valley) 5-4 at 182 pounds; No. 5 Derek White put on an absurd stretch of dominance in the last 2:45 of the bout, as he scored eight takedowns in that stretch for a 16-6 major decision victory over state placer Cole Macek (Montour) at 195; and No. 12 at 285 Andrew Dixon scored an escape in the ultimate tiebreaker for a 1-0 victory over state champion Jake Temple (Avella) at 220.
The evening's final bout was a merciful triumph for the WPIAL squad, as three-time state placer Shane Kuhn (Kiski Area) ended his wrestling experience with a 6-2 victory over state qualifier Trey Loveall (Locust Grove). Kuhn scored five points off a throw in the first period, one in which he almost secured a fall, and closed the string to get the win.
Kuhn will be attending Youngstown State in the fall, a FCS school in football, where he will start out as a tight end and long snapper. "It's definitely helped me out," said Kuhn about his wrestling experience in terms of football. "Competing as a heavyweight has helped me learn how to move bigger bodies easier, as well improved my hand-fighting. All the wrestling skills translate on the football field."
Oklahoma 37, WPIAL 10
113: Brendan Price (Canon-McMillan) dec. Braden Bennett (Locust Grove, Okla.), 11-5
120: Jacob Findley (Collinsville, Okla.) dec. Brendan Hasson (Belle Vernon), 4-2
126: No. 20 at 132 Cub Yeager (Locust Grove, Okla.) dec. No. 11 Dom Forys (North Allegheny), 8-7
132: No. 11 Tyler Smith (Franklin Regional) maj. dec. Justin Fletcher (Bixby, Okla.), 12-4
138: Will Steltzen (Collinsville, Okla.) dec. Tyler Buckiso (Peters Township), 4-1
145: Jonce Blaylock (Berryhill, Okla.) dec. Grant Fetchet (South Fayette), 2-1
152: No. 19 Dakota Head (Tuttle, Okla.) pin Steven Edwards (Burrell), 2:56
160: Jacobe Smith (Muskogee, Okla.) dec. Jonathan Avon (North Hills), 10-3
170: No. 6 Chandler Rogers (Stillwater, Okla.) pinned Kyle Coniker (Pittsburgh Central Catholic), 1:16
182: No. 11 at 220 Lance Dixon (Edmond North, Okla.) dec. Terrell Fields (Valley), 5-4
195: No. 5 Derek White (Edmond North, Okla.) major dec. Cole Macek (Montour), 16-6
220: No. 12 at 285 Andrew Dixon (Edmond North, Okla.) dec. Jake Temple (Avella), 1-0 TB
285: Shane Kuhn (Kiski Area) dec. Trey Loveall (Locust Grove, Okla.), 6-2