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Mustang wrestlers begin bid for title

Brian Picklo, Mustang High’s head wrestling coach, has been working the past four years to change the culture of his team.
This season, Picklo feels he has the type of team he can take into battle with Oklahoma’s Class 6A powers and challenge for the championship.
Mustang began grappling with that mission Saturday, winning seven individual titles and placing 10 wrestlers in the Edmond North Open, the first of three early-season tournaments before dual meets begin in December.
With all but one starter back from a squad that posted a 19-2 dual record, Picklo feels the Broncos can muscle themselves into the national rankings and state title consideration.
“I didn’t come here to take part, I came here to take over,” said Picklo, a two-time All-American wrestler at Michigan State who wants to build Mustang’s program into a perennial title contender like Broken Arrow, last season’s 6A state champion.
Early results at the Edmond North Open were encouraging. Winning individual titles were Shelton Chastain (113 pounds), Tucker Owens (126), Keegan Luton (138), John Wiley (145), Tate Picklo (182), Brannigan Reyes (195) and Jack Kitchingham (220).
Mustang swings back into action at 10 a.m. Saturday when it competes in the Yukon Open.
Coach Picklo, a master sergeant for the Oklahoma City Police Department, feels his program is much improved culture-wise over last season, when the Broncos had four wrestlers capture state crowns.
They were Owens, Wiley (126), son Tate Picklo (160) and Judson Rowland (195).
Rowland is the Mustang football team’s middle linebacker and one of three Broncos who will join Picklo’s squad when football season ends.
Safety JoJo Sylvester (152) and defensive lineman Christian Rowland (heavyweight) also wrestle.
Picklo views his team as warriors, saying “wrestling is a fight with rules” and he wants them to be tough as nails.
“This team is on a completely different level from where we were last year,” coach Picklo said. “They push themselves without being asked. The overall work ethic is something we’ve never seen.
“We have an ideology that ‘you get what you earn.’ These guys are earning their state title every day. From top to bottom, from our best wrestler to our worst, everyone is on the same page.
“These guys are more than a team, it’s a brotherhood of warriors. There’s nothing quite like combat to unify men. These guys engage in hand-to-hand combat with one another on a daily basis. Just to be on this team, you must be different. Not many kids are comfortable with getting into a fight on a daily basis.”
MHS’ only starter to graduate was Picklo’s older son, 138-pounder Cam Picklo, who started four seasons and placed each year at state.
He finished with a 45-5 record last year, was third at state and now is wrestling for the University of Oklahoma.
Brian Picklo was an assistant coach from 1997-2000 for OU’s wrestling program. Since taking over as Mustang’s head coach, he has compiled a 47-12 dual record.
Picklo cautions opponents to be ready to do battle when they step onto the mat against the Broncos.
“We might get beat, but any team that wants to challenge us has got to be willing to bleed to do it,” he said. “We are gonna make it a fight, and I like our odds in a fight.”

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