Perry High School, home of one of the nation's all-time top wrestling programs, secured its 1,000th dual-meet win Tuesday, Jan. 22 -- an achievement only three other schools in the nation can match -- then notched victory No. 1,001 two nights later.
What makes these incredible accomplishments all the more impressive: Perry High, located in north-central Oklahoma, has a total enrollment of just 312 students in grades 9-12, and competes in Class 3A ... yet manages to defeat programs from larger schools. Case in point: For their 1,000th win, Perry beat Class 5A Guthrie 78-3, then topped Ponca City, a Class 6A program, 70-4 for their 1,001th dual victory.
Then again, that tradition of success on the mat should be no surprise coming from a program that produced numerous state and national champions ... and two Olympic medalists: Jack VanBebber, gold medalist at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, and Dan Hodge, who earned silver at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.
In fact, the Perry Maroon mat tradition is so powerful, it's commemorated with the Perry Wrestling Monument Park in the heart of downtown Perry (featuring statues of Hodge and VanBebber) ... and is the subject of a documentary currently in production, "The Price of Legacy: Wrestling with a Dynasty" expected to be completed in time for the 2019-2020 season.
Perry High wrestling, by the numbers
By any measure, Perry has been a powerhouse mat program for decades. In 2018, the Maroons won their 42d state championship, a national record according to the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) and Wrestling USA magazine. Add in Perry's 13 runner-up finishes at state, and that means 55 top-two finishes for Perry at the Oklahoma state tourney since 1952.
Perry has turned out more than its share of individual state champs, too -- 172 in all, which puts the school third in the nation for that accomplishment.
With its latest milestone wins this past week, the Maroons have tallied an overall dual-meet record of 1,001-316-16 for an incredible .757 winning percentage since the program was founded in 1923. (In the past decade, Perry has been 188-32 at duals.)
One ingredient in Perry High's enduring success in the oldest and greatest sport is in its coaching. In the 95-year history of the program, the Maroons have had just eleven head wrestling coaches ... with three of them each serving in that position a decade or more. Nine of Perry's coaches once wrestled for the Maroons.