BARTLESVILLE — Despite never leading, the Claremore wrestling team somehow pulled out a 34-33 win at Bartlesville in the season opener for the Zebras.

Trailing 33-30 going into the heavyweight match, backup heavyweight Ryan Cochran pulled out a 4-1 decision over Bartlesville’s Rylan Reynolds inside a deafening Bruin gymnasium which knotted the match at 33. Afterwards, Claremore was allowed a tiebreaker point due to an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Bruins, and earned the dual win.

It turned out just like Claremore coach Chad Willard thought it would. He thought it would come down to a 33-all match as he had previously marked on his bout sheet.

“I want a raise,” he joked after the match.

Claremore never had a lead, though the match was tied three times. Bartlesville got six points for an open Claremore weight at 106, but 113-pound freshman Kearanie Johnson, wrestling in her first varsity match, came through with a 2-1 decision over David Braucher. Johnson got a takedown early, and Braucher got an escape. That score would hold up.

“I knew we had to have one upset win to win the dual and it happened in our first match,” Willard said. “We needed one upset to come through for my prediction of 33-33 to come true. She did it. It was unbelievable.”

Kaden Stanley earned a 5-0 decision at 120 to tie the dual at 6.

Still, Bartlesville continued to get wins early. They built an 18-6 lead until Parker Price stepped onto the mat. The returning state qualifier, who took third at state last season despite the loss of his right hand two and a half years ago, was poked in the eye in the first minute of the match. After a short stoppage, an angry Price picked up Bartlesville’s Asheton Beeber, slammed him back-first into the mat and got the pin seconds later.

“He’s a hot-head,” Willard joked. “It worked for him. See what happens when he got mad? Every time that kid does something like that...I get goosebumps every time.”

Bartlesville pushed the lead to 21-12, and then it was Corbin Ballard’s turn. The 152-pounder got a first-period pin, followed by a Logan Sams 3-2 win at 160, and the dual was tied at 21.

Two Bartlesville pins pushed the Bruins lead to 33-21 with three matches left.

Adam Cegielski earned a first-period pin over Blake Buoy at 195 pounds. At 220, Seth Seago fought his way to an 8-1 decision, but the Zebras still trailed 33-30.

That set the stage for Cochran’s heroics. Cochran managed to clamp onto his opponent and roll him to his back, earning two near fall points and a 2-0 lead. After a Reynolds escape, Cochran iced it in the final seconds with a takedown and two more points.

In the end, it was a win, but Willard sees lots of room for improvement.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in my upper weights,” he said. “Seth Seago at 220 — he’s better than that. He won his match but it’s not about winning, it’s about how you do it. But he just came out of football, so he’s still got some shape. Our young guys, our sophomores, have to stay off their backs. If they don’t stay off their backs, we’re going to have a hard time winning duals.”

Claremore will now compete at the Perry Tournament Friday and Saturday.

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