Sallisaw senior wrestlers ready for Class 4A Dual State Tournament
For the first time in a decade, the Sallisaw Black Diamonds wrestling team will try to be a team state champion when they try to win the Class 4A Dual State Tournament, which will take place today at Enid’s Stride Bank Center. The Black Diamonds will meet Cache at 10 this morning.
When the Black Diamonds beat Wagoner in last month’s Class 4A District Duals to earn a trip to state, it just meant one more opponent to defeat and more opponents to beat today at state.
“Let’s go to state,” Sallisaw 132-pound senior wrestler Mason Duke said about the team’s mentality when the Class 4A District Duals began Jan. 16 in Wagoner. “It (the District Dual wins) was another stone stepped on … another stone to step on. (We have) more stones for us to step on (tonight).”
For the other four seniors — 190-pounders Caden Pollard and Kolten Riggs and 215-pounders Noah Flores and Jastin Lindsay — they were a part of the Cinderella 2023 football season, in which the Black Diamonds went 7-5 and made it to the Class 4A state quarterfinals. Pollard said that has made a big difference for the Black Diamonds wrestling team this season.
“I think it gave us more confidence this year,” Pollard said. “Being able to succeed in football, and even coming in here with a better wrestling team than we had last year, it (7-5 football season with a trip to the state quarterfinals) really built our confidence.”
The Black Diamonds (9-0) left for Enid on Thursday, but made one big stop along the way. They stopped to work out at Oklahoma State University’s Gallagher-Iba Arena before heading on the final 71 miles to Enid.
“That’s actually crazy,” Flores said. “I think it’s going to be interesting. There’s a lot of history there, and a lot of interesting people have wrestled there. It’s going to be exciting for us to get to practice there — and somebody is supposed to get to talk to us, too. I think that’s going to be really cool, too.”
Since none of the current Black Diamonds have experienced dual state before, they are trying to get an idea of what it will be like today.
“It’s very exciting,” Lindsay said. “It’s been 10 years since we went. We’re going to go and give it everything we’ve got. We’ve been waiting for it, so we’re obviously going to go and try to take it (Class 4A Dual State Tournament title). I’m just very excited for it.”
The seniors tried to put into words what they and their teammates might be feeling tonight should the Black Diamonds cap a perfect season with a dual state title.
“It means we will have actually accomplished our goal,” Lindsay said. “It’s something we’ve been looking for all year — win that dual state title. That’s been our goal. Once we accomplish that, we’ll have more after that (regional and individual state tournaments).”
“It will be a big step for our wrestling program as a whole,” Flores said. “I feel like we’re going to be super excited when we win. Our coach (Mark Smith) is going to be really excited, too. I think we’re going to be happy all the way around. It will help us get ready for individual state.”
“I’m obviously going to be very excited, and I know I’m going to enjoy it,” Pollard said. “I’ve enjoyed this season a lot. To put a cap on that part (of our season) for our dual team would just be amazing. It will probably be hard to sleep afterward being so excited. I’ll be having an adrenaline rush at like 12 a.m. (midnight) that night.”
“I’m going to be absolutely ecstatic,” Duke said.