At the state tournament, Yukon wrestling turned out one of their worst performances in recent history.
The Millers only qualified four grapplers and none placed. This was the first time in coach Joe Schneider’s tenure at Yukon High School that no wrestler placed.
“(At state) I got to know that our wrestlers couldn’t step up and rise to the occasion when they were faced with adversity,” Schneider said. “What a bummer. (Not challenging adversity) has been happening all year long, why would I expect something different?”
Each of the Millers finished the state tournament losing in the consolation bracket.
At 106 pounds, Cooper Mahaffey lost in the first round to Jared Campbell of Owasso and turned it around in the second round to defeat Mustang’s Shelton Chastain by fall in 46 seconds. Mahaffey was defeated by Cooper Evans (Westmoore) in the consolation semifinals 14-8.
Connor Columbus, Yukon’s 195 pound representative, started out the tournament on a positive note, defeating Edmond North’s Christian Chantu 10-7. Columbus went on to lose to Carson Savage (Deer Creek) by fall in 1:21 and Tristan Ashford (Moore) 7-1.
At 220 pounds, Corbin Gordon lost to Micah Walker (Tulsa Union) in the first round, defeated Yemi Oyesanya (Norman) in the second, and fell to Jared Galli (Jenks) in the consolation semifinal round in 4:58.
Ashton Aldridge fell to Colten Dodd (Enid) in 3:37, defeated Kobe Shawver (Del City), and lost to Broken Arrow’s Noah Cortes in the final round.
“I think we prepared them everything move wise, everything coaching wise, we showed them and guided them the right ways” Schneider said. “They knew the moves, they were well conditioned and well prepared other than their mindset. That’s that hardest part to get into these high school kids.”
Connor Columbus’ performance gave Schneider the most excitement. Having three of the four qualifiers back next season should bode well.
“The freshman stepped up and won a big match against a guy who had beat him,” he said. “Connor Colombus, I see good things in the future from him. Of the four qualifiers, only one is a senior so it’s good to have those guys coming back. Each one of those guys got a win on that state floor this weekend.
“I guess we can say that’s a positive. That is something you have to build off of.”
Yukon’s results at state were indicative of how they performed all season.
“They could make it through the mediocre athletes but can’t beat the good ones. I hate being the middle of the road, mediocre pace but that’s where we fit this year. Any time we were faced with a little bit of adversity, we crumbled and it happened at state,” Schneider said.
Losing isn’t in the mantra of Yukon wrestling.
Typically a successful program, the Millers have fallen into losing ways and now its up to Schneider and his team to dig themselves out of the hole.
“We’ve got to evaluate who we are, that’s what we’re going to do this week. We’re going to do a lot of self-evaluation and figure out that, what we did in the off season last year didn’t seem productive, didn’t seem to work, what we did during the season wasn’t the best effort we were and hopefully we’ll learn from that.”
Schneider will start by trying to better his coaching practices.
“I go to different coaches clinics and we go to listen to figure out how other coaches have prepared their wrestlers physically and mentally and all the types of moves,” he said. “They’re going to have to rise up. Me as a coach, I’m going to continue pushing them.
“If they don’t want to buy in, they’re going to get left.”
Buying in to wrestling full time takes sacrifices but Schneider says that’s what it takes to build a winning program.
“I think we have a lot of guys that are on that fence of whether or not they want to buy completely in. If they’re only 60 percent in and 40 percent being a regular, that’s not putting everything into it,” he said.
“I spend a lot of my time being a 90 percent coach and 10 percent dad and husband. My family and kids and wife suffer but these guys aren’t doing the suffering.
“I can’t want it more than they do, I think that’s where we’re at right now. Me wanting them to win more than they do is a problem we’ve had around here for a little while. we’ve got to fix that. The culture of the program needs to change.”
However, next season will be different around Yukon.
The Millers will work over the off season to ensure they don’t repeat their mistakes again.
“We’re not going to just lay down and get whipped again,” Schneider said. “We’re going to work toward it. If some guys don’t want to work toward it, they can move out. That might have to be the way we go around here.”