By ANTHONY MELLENDORF
For The Yukon Review
The Yukon wrestling team picked up a pivotal victory Thursday night over division rival Deer Creek, 49-22, improving to 7 and 1 on the season.
The victory has given the Millers a commanding lead in their division having already picked up a close victory over Edmond Mem-orial a little more than a week ago.
Coach Joe Schneider was not immediately available for comment after the dual, but he did provide comments before the match about the season so far and what his team must look forward to.
“The season has been tough,” he said. “We have had to grind (due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19) and there has been an emotional strain on the kids this year.”
Early in the season, the entire Miller team had to miss two weeks due to COVID-19 contact-tracing protocols after a referee tested positive for the virus.
Another hurdle the team had to overcome is the limited capacity allowed for fans in the stands at duals this year.
Currently only immediate family and media can attend dual meets due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Dual meets are hard to get up for this year,” coach Schneider said. “The moms, dads, brothers and sisters have definitely been loud and have helped.”
So far this season, the Millers have seen some stellar performances from some of their best wrestlers.
Lane Parks, a 6’4” 260-pound junior, earned most outstanding wrestler honors at the Jenks tournament. Parks recorded the greatest number of falls in the shortest amount of time and logged a 24-second fall in the finals of that tournament to win.
Schneider said he also saw some great wrestling from freshman Dylan Ryan, who placed fourth at the Jenks tournament and is looking to qualify for individual state at either 106 pounds or 113 pounds.
Despite the challenges early in the season, coach Schneider said he is just happy to be able to compete.
“We had to reschedule a lot of our duals and missed some tournaments,” he said. “We are just grateful for what we can get and where we can get it.”
The Millers will now look ahead to their last district dual meet against Del City scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at Del City.
Schneider said he is optimistic about his team and he feels they can win the matchup and qualify for dual state for the first time in three years.
The Millers will also look to qualify all 14 of their rostered wrestlers for the individual state tournament Feb. 25-26.
The OSSAA has changed the dates this year for the regional and state tournaments to reduce the impact of possible COVID-19-related events. The regional wrestling tournaments are scheduled Feb. 12-13 and the dual state tournament is scheduled March 12-13.
Schneider said these changes are great because they leave room for wrestlers to not miss if they are placed in quarantine for contact tracing or for testing positive for COVID-19. The next time the Millers will be in action at home will be on Feb. 1 for senior night when they take on Weatherford.