In Ardmore's home opener, the Tigers got a taste of Shawnee's depth and experience.
Shawnee, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, came to town focused, winning all but one match in a 58-3 duals victory over Ardmore on Tuesday. Fresh off a team title at the Duncan Southern Oklahoma Invitational, the Wolves looked the part of the more experienced side, jumping out to a 37-0 lead before Ardmore could respond.
Until Ardmore freshman Clay Atwood won his match by decision at 170 pounds, the Tigers fell behind via two major decisions, a technical fall, two pins and two forfeits.
The Wolves improved to 3-1 in duals, while Ardmore dropped to 0-3. Ardmore had just eight wrestlers in action, a scarcity of options that was further magnified by Shawnee's flexibility at the middle weights and long.
Ardmore sent out two juniors — 220-pounder Brenden Hemenway and heavyweight Martin Valdez. The rest of the team was either freshmen or sophomores.
"We wrestle with what we've got," Ardmore coach Richard Dabbs said. "There's a lot of inexperience.
"We had some effort, we were just outmanned. A lot of times, it was just young pups going up against physically more mature guys."
Shawnee had the experience advantage in every match, sending three state qualifiers to the mat — state placer Michael Smith at 126 pounds, Daylan Stuteville (160) and Corey Todd (145).
Shawnee's only duals loss of the season was against Class 6A Stillwater.
"I think we've got about 14 solid guys," Shawnee coach Larry James said. "We don't have those superstars, we don't have those guys that are gonna go out and pin everybody, but we've got 14 solid guys."
Atwood scored Ardmore's lone victory of the night against junior Matt Daniel, 4-2. Atwood went ahead 2-0 in the first period on a takedown, then couldn't score an escape in the second. Daniel took bottom and was able to escape to start the third (2-1), but Atwood put Daniel down again at the 43-second mark of the final period.
In Ardmore's two other closely-contested match, Valdez lost a 1-0 decision to Shawnee's Ryan Goodfox at 285, and 106-pounder Rodney Seaton led off the night with a back-and-forth 10-2 loss to Nick Poncho. Valdez and Goodfox struggled for position through two rounds until Goodfox's escape to start the third was the difference.
Atwood improved to 8-2, with each loss coming to a state placer. Daniel, who Atwood defeated Tuesday, placed second at the Southern Oklahoma Invitational last week.
"That guy (Daniel) is good; I think Clay's wrestled well," Dabbs said. "His losses have come to good people, so I think easily in another month he could reverse those losses."