By Chuck Reherman
Yukon will face its first tournament challenge of the season as the Millers make their return to the annual Perry Tournament of Champions beginning Friday.
The Millers have had success in the past in the tournament (finishing eighth last year in a field of 19 teams) and will see that many again compete for the team title.
“The Perry Tournament is always a challenge and it will be very tough again this year,” YHS head coach Joe Schneider said. “There is going to be some tough teams there and a lot of good wrestlers. We will take a lot of guys there that have not wrestled at this tournament before and they will get their eyes opened in a hurry.
“We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the tournament,” he said. “And, a lot of these guys will get a lot of mat experience this weekend. That is what we need right now, mat experience. We are more concerned with them getting the mat time and being ready the second half of the season.”
The Millers do return one placer from the tournament last year. Kylon Burgert took third at 126-pounds and will return to make a run at a higher finish at 132-pounds.
Wallace Tilley, Cooper Mahaffey, Corbin Gordon and Ashton Aldridge all came within a match of reaching the medal rounds last year and will make a run at a top four spot this time around
YHS will face some stiff competion from teams like Choctaw, Stillwater, host team Perry, Sand Springs, Ark City, KS., and Chanute, KS. Also expected to be there are: Bixby, Blackwell, Catoosa, Claremore, Edmond Memorial, Harrah, Kingfisher, Lawton MacArthur, Midwest City, Owasso, Ponca City and Pryor.
Wrestling gets underway at 10 a.m. and will wrestle with three rounds of championship and three rounds of consolations.
On Saturday, the consolation and semifinals will begin at 10 a.m. The championship and consolation finals will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the placement matches.
The Millers got off to a rough start to the season, losing to Piedmont 39-24 in the opener at Piedmont.
Yukon got off to a 9-0 lead and led 18-9 before Piedmont took control of the dual. The Wildcats won the next six matches to open a 34-18 lead and won eight of the last nine matches.
“We have four or five guys in the line-up that had not wrestled before and it showed in this one, Schneider said. “We had some freshmen in there also and it was a rocky road in there up and down. But, it will hopefully springboard us into working harder in the practice room and they realize that it is a fight in the middle of that mat. And, we lost that fight tonight.
“They (Piedmont) raced back to the middle, they bum rushed us and they fought hard,” he added. “If you look at the score, they won the points in the first and second period, they won those fights. Did they win them with a fall, they did in some, but we stepped up in the third period and we stepped up. We did better in the third period when we realized was that was.”
The Millers took the initial lead when Cooper Mahaffey pinned Piedmont’s Jayce Janiz in 1:13 of the opening period. Mahaffey had taken Janiz down 30 seconds into the match and turned him to his back for the fall.
Steven Cook came from behind to post a 12-8 win over Tyler Tewell at 113-pounds. Cook trailed 5-4 after one period, but reversed out of the bottom position to take the lead. He used a late takedown (after giving up an escape) to open an 8-6 lead.
Tewell tied the match with a reverse out of the bottom position, 8-8, but Cook escaped the move, scored a takedown and used a penalty point to put the match away and give the Millers a 9-0 lead.
Piedmont tied the match with an Alan Flores 6-5 decision over Tony Gilbert at 120 and Jeremy Stucket pinned Jeremy Kern in 3:38 at 126 to make it a 9-9 dual.
Burget’s pin of Josh Henson in 1:11 at 132 regained the lead for the Millers, 15-8 and Wallace Tilley’s last second takedown and nearfall of Mitchell Lance for a 9-7 win at 138 opened an 18-9 lead. Tilley fought off a late first period pin attempt to trail 5-0 after one and was behind 6-3 heading into the third. He was down 7-5 in the closing seconds, when he took Lance to his back for a takedown and the nearfall just before time ran out.
Piedmont won the remainder of the matches, with the exception of 220-pounds when Corbin Gordon received a forfeit to make it a 34-24 score. The dual winner came at 195-pounds when Braden Culp scored a 9-1 major decision over Connor Columbus.
“Hopefully this season opener will open our eyes and actually open us up to being in the rest of the fight,” he said. “We knew Piedmont was tough from top to bottom and they showed it. We need to learn to get tough in the room and learn to fight.”