Mustang’s wrestling team opened its home dual season with a methodical 44-17 dismantling of the Piedmont Wildcats last Thursday before about 400 fans.
Among the Broncos triumphing at the Mustang High School Event Center was Jojo Sylvester 2.0, the new mentally-tougher version of last year’s state qualifier.
Sylvester and his Mustang teammates (3-0 in duals), ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 6A and No. 38 nationally, used four pins, a technical fall and three major decisions to rout Piedmont (2-1), now No. 4 in 5A.
Sylvester decisioned the Wildcats’ Bryce Digiacinto, 4-1, at 170 pounds.
Last season, Sylvester lost both of his matches at state and ended with a 26-18 record. He said he wasn’t as mentally tough then as he wanted to be.
“I got in my head a lot. It wasn’t fun.
“My three best friends are Tate (Picklo), Judson (Rowland) and Cam (Picklo) — they all placed,” he added. “I went 0-2. I felt like the black sheep of the group.”
Sylvester is using that as motivation to improve during his senior campaign.
“Jojo has turned a corner,” Mustang coach Brian Picklo said. “Last year, he had some road blocks that were almost insurmountable. He had trouble getting off the bottom. If you can’t get off the bottom, you can’t score.
“This year, one of his biggest improvements is not putting so much pressure on himself. Psychologically, he’d put himself out of the match. But he’s born again mentally tough. He doesn’t freak out now.”
Sylvester out-thought and out-muscled Digiacinto, preventing his escape after he took the lead. Digiacinto was a state qualifier last season at 138.
“He wasn’t giving me much, so I decided to control the match,” said Sylvester, who has another big factor working in his favor.
“His man to work out with (in practice) is Tate (Picklo). There’s benefit in that,” coach Picklo said of his No. 10 nationally-ranked son, who was an unbeaten state champion last season.
“He’s a great wrestler,” Sylvester said of Tate Picklo at 182 pounds. “I’m getting better from working out with him.”
Coach Picklo said he noticed how much Sylvester has changed recently after wrestling him at practice. “I said, ‘Wow, this is really different.’”
Sylvester’s recent victory against a Yukon wrestler, when he was awarded a penalty point, is an example.
“The kid outright slugged him. Jojo stepped back and smiled,” coach Picklo said. “He just took him down and cradled him (for a pin). That’s the perfect response to a cheap move.”
Haedon London, Shelton Chastain and Tucker Owens each won by a fall as Mustang grabbed an 18-0 lead.
London pinned Trevor Tewell in 1:40 at 106 pounds and Chastain pinned Tyler Tewell in 5:54 at 113 pounds.
Owens, a junior who was 32-1 last season in winning a state title at 113 pounds, pinned Piedmont’s Logan Brunson in 2:46 at 120 pounds.
“I always want to get the first takedown,” Owens said. “It takes my nerves away and I think I can control the match.”
Owens said he used a simple half-nelson to pin Brunson.
Heavyweight Christian Rowland put an exclamation point on the Broncos’ victory, pinning Piedmont’s Dylan Hampton in 3:10.
Also winning for Mustang were:
• Keegan Luton, who major decisioned Kolten Luschen, 21-7, at 138;
• Claude Moates, a 14-4 major decision of Colby Matlock at 145;
• Tate Picklo, a 23-8 technical decision of Austin Cooley;
• Judson Rowland, who major decisioned Makaneli Ramirez, 14-6, at 220.
One of the evening’s top matches came at 160, where Mustang’s Mark Boyd lost 2-0 to Landis Scoon. Last season, Scoon was the 5A state runner-up at 152.
Also bowing in a hard-fought bout was Bronco 132-pounder Weldon Bryan, who lost 6-4 in overtime to Alan Flores. Flores was a state qualifier at 132 last season.
Other match results were:
• Levi Buckridge, PHS, pinned Bryson Landers in 2:31 at 126;
• Tabor McClure, PHS, decisioned Colt Fischer, 5-0, at 152;
• Bo Hardy, PHS, decisioned Jack Kitchingham, 11-6, at 195. Hardy was a state qualifier last season at 145.
MHS places second
in Enid tournament
Mustang had three wrestlers crowned champions in the Mid-America National Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Enid.
Tate Picklo and the Rowland brothers brought home titles for Mustang, which scored 202.5 points to place second. Tuttle won with 284 points and had four first-place finishers.
“It was a good test, the best we’ve done as a team and we had two guys out of the lineup,” coach Picklo said.
Luton (tendinitis) and John Wiley (145 pounds, surgery) were sidelined. Both are expected to return to the lineup soon.
Tate Picklo remained unbeaten, major decisioning Piedmont’s Austin Cooley, 16-7, in the 182-pound championship.
Judson Rowland decisioned Altus’ Cabe Dickerson, 7-1, for the 220-pound title.
Heavyweight Christian Rowland placed first, defeating Union’s Micah Walker, 2-1, in overtime.
Mustang’s Sylvester placed second and Owens and Kitchingham each placed third while Chastain was fifth.
Sylvester lost his first match of the season, bowing 4-0 at 170 to Nathan Fury of Kapaun Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kansas.
Owens won his 120-pound match for third place, pinning Del City’s Romanual Rigers in 4:12.
Kitchingham decisioned Edmond North’s Christian Cantu, 6-0, for third place at 195.
Chastain pinned Caleb Pavlacka of Andale, Kansas, in 3:34 for fifth place at 113.