All in all, it’s been a pretty quiet year for the Ada High wrestling team. Although the Cougars won their conference tournament, they didn’t challenge for a title in any of the other major events they entered this winter, and as a team they didn’t qualify for the dual state tournament earlier this month.
But coach Kyle Bohannon said that doesn’t mean his squad can’t make some noise at the rugged Class 5A East Regional at Deer Creek High School Friday and Saturday.
“It’s going to be hard for us to take the team title away,” Bohannon admitted, “but I think we have a chance to finish in the top five (at the regional). We have a lot of young guys and we haven’t had a full lineup at some of our tournaments, so a lot of people won’t be expecting us to do much. I think we’ll surprise some people.”
Bohannon said the OSSAA didn’t do the Cougars and the other teams they will face this weekend any favors when they handled out regional assignments.
“Our side is by far the tougher side of the state,” he explained. “Out of 16 teams, we have seven of the top 10 teams in the state in our regional. Most of the guys we’ll see in this bracket we haven’t seen this year, so it should be interesting to mix it up with those guys.”
Although Ada will be a decided darkhorse in a regional field that includes the teams ranked 2 through 5 — Altus, Lawton MacArthur, Duncan and Deer Creek — in 5A, the Cougars should get a big shot in the arm with the return of senior Jake Todd, a two-time state qualifier who finished third in the 5A at 126 pounds last year. Todd suffered a torn ACL in the Cougars’ final football game last fall and will see his first action of the season Friday.
“Getting a guy like that back has to help,” Bohannon said. “I have high expectations for him, and he has high expectations for himself. He has a competitor’s heart, and it’s great to get him back for regionals.”
Todd will be a welcome addition to a relatively young squad that, to this point, has been led by senior Michael Dickerson at 224 pounds. Dickerson won his weight class at the tough Bishop Kelley and McAlester Tournaments and was second at Coweta and at the conference tournament.
“Michael has finished first or second at every tournament he’s wrestled at this year,” Bohannon said of Dickerson. “Coming into this year I expected Michael to step up and be a leader on the team. He’s pushed himself all year, and that’s worked for him.”
Jebb Todd missed the entire 2011 wrestling season with a knee injury he suffered in football in the fall of 2010, and he has also put together a solid campaign. Todd was first at 145 pounds at the conference tournament and fifth at Bishop Kelley.
“Jebb tore his ACL and was out last year,” Bohannon noted. “I look for him to have a great regional tournament. He’s pushed hard to make up for the time he missed.”
Senior Jamie Copeland, a two-time state qualifier who was third in 5A at 112 pounds as a sophomore in 2010, comes into the regional off a title at 120 pounds at the Metro Tournament at McLoud. Copeland was also first in his weight class at the conference tournament and finished second at both Bristow and Coweta.
“He’s had a great year,” Bohannon said of Copeland. “He was undefeated in duals, and he should be one of the top contenders at his weight.”
Junior Dalton Thompson followed a sixth-place finish at Bristow and a fourth at McAlester with a surprising runner-up showing at 182 pounds at Bishop Kelley.
“He’s really turned it on at the end of the season,” Bohannon said of Thompson. “He placed at the Bishop Kelley Tournament and looks like he’s peaking at the right time of the year.”
Ada’s other senior is Devin Hargus, who finished third at McAlester and fourth at the conference tournament at 195 pounds.
“Devin has had a good senior year,” Bohannon said. “He’s worked hard and it’s paying off.”
Freshman heavyweight Marwin Dickerson will enter the regional off a championship at the McLoud Tournament last week, and, although Dickerson will compete in a tough weight class against wrestlers with a lot more experience, Bohannon said he expects him to give a good account of himself at his first regional tournament.
“He’s stepped up and has had some success for us this year,” Bohannon said of the younger Dickerson, who finished third at McAlester and sixth at Coweta. “Being a freshman and stepping into a field with some of these older guys will be tough.
“You just want him to get in there and compete, and next year those guys will remember who you are,” he added. “He’s not going to back down from anybody.”
The remainder of the Cougars’ roster is made up underclassmen, including two other freshmen — Luke Johnson at 106 pounds and 160-pounder Colton Lancaster, who was third at the Metro Tournament in his first matches against high school competition. Sophomore Cason Teel (138) was fourth at McAlester, another sophomore, Danny Lamb (170) was second at McAlester and sixth at the conference tournament, and junior Hunter Bedsole (152) was third at McAlester.