He walked off the mat with a maturity beyond his years — a wrestler expecting victory rather than surprised by it.

That was Braden Ruth as a first-time champion. What can we expect the second time around?

The Davis junior is the top-ranked wrestler at 285 pounds in Class 3A, and at the State Wrestling Championships this weekend, Ruth has as good a shot as any area wrestler of coming home with a state title.

Ruth (22-1) is one of 15 area athletes vying for a state championship among classes 5A-3A. He returns to the state tournament along with Davis’ 152-pounder Hunter White.

“I think he has a real good chance of that (repeating),” Davis coach Sherrill Neal said. “He was real excited today of being up here, and I think he’ll do real well.

“(White) He’s a senior and it’s his last chance to place. His first match is the one that’s important. He wins that, that gives him an opportunity to place.”

Ruth’s only loss this season came to arguably the most dominant wrestler in the state — Chickasha 220-pounder Jacoby Brown. Other than that, Ruth — who won 3A state as a 220 pounder last year — hasn’t really been challenged, even as he’s adjusted to a new weight class.

He’s also commanded the heavyweight division with significantly fewer matches than his counterparts, a product of advancing to the 2A state championship game with Davis’ football team.

In this instance, less is more for Ruth.

“He’s got excellent skills and he’s such a superior athlete,” Neal said. “He’s just wrestling at a little bit bigger weight, but it’s same skills, same ability.”

Plainview sending 7

There was a distinct look in the eyes of Cade Wheelwright and Drake Martel on Wednesday.

The Plainview seniors spoke deliberately and with focus, just days away from their final high school matches. Martel — the transfer from Altus — enters the state tournament with more of a chip on his shoulder after losing an overtime decision at the 3A regional. He’s looking to recliam his title as the No. 1 wrestler at arguably the deepest weight class (160 pounds) in 3A.

Martel has never finished worse than second at a state tournament. Martel is a four-time state qualifier who won the Class 5A state championship at 160 as a junior.

“This time, I ended up getting second at regionals,” said Martel. “That said, I’m going to be coming back a lot more angry than I would be.

“I kinda slacked off a little bit that last match. It kinda opened my eyes.”

Wheelwright, a three-time state qualifier, is returning to the State Fair Arena on a mission to finish off what could be a progression to the state title. Wheelwright, the No. 2 seed at 132 pounds, placed third as a sophomore and second as a junior at 126 pounds.

To finish his career as a champion, he’ll likely have to take down Comanche’s Jon Wayne Townsend, the two-time defending champ at 132.

“I haven’t beaten him yet, but I’ve gotta make it there first,” Wheelwright said of the potential collision course with Townsend. “If I get there, we’ll adjust, make changes and see what I need to do.”

Plainview leads the area with seven qualifiers for the state tournament. Among them, another senior, 170-pounder Landon Good, is the top seed in his weight class after rolling through the 3A regional as a No. 4 seed.

Good, like teammates Zac Atencio (106 pounds), Cameron Hanan (182) and Dorian Fagan (220), is a first-time qualifier, but has proven himself capable of winning it all.

Besides Davis’ Ruth, Good is the only No. 1 seed from the area.

“Landon’s gonna have a tough road,” Plainview coach Rocky Atencio said. “That doesn’t mean he can’t win it, but he’s gonna have to wrestle like he wrestled Saturday (at 3A regionals).”

Stephen West returns for Plainview at 120 pounds as a two-time state qualifier. He’ll be part of the Indians’ growing group of wrestlers back next season.

Plainview will return four of its seven state qualifiers, as well as nine wrestlers who placed at regionals.

Fresh faces and wily vets

There’s a good mixture of newcomers and veterans of the state tournament stage for three area schools.

Sulphur has a three-time qualifier in Ike Flowers (120) and a first-timer in Wyatt Jones (220). In Class 4A, Madill has two first-time qualifiers in Tyler Ramirez (113) and Sotero Trevino (220) and a two-time qualifier in Luke Chapman (160).

“We had a good week of practice, so I think we’re as prepared as we’re gonna be,” Sulphur coach Drew Swartz said. “Ike’s been here three times, so I think it’s helped him (Jones). This is what we prepare for, and we’ve worked hard all year.”

Ardmore goes from sending multiple wrestlers to state to this year sending just one — freshman Clay Atwood at 170 pounds. Ardmore coach Richard Dabbs said Atwood has a good opportunity to place as the No. 2 seed.

Atwood may be a first-timer on the varsity stage, but has plenty of experience at the State Fair Grounds Arena. He won the junior high state tournament this month, and has won sixth and seventh grade division state titles at the same site as the state tournament.

“Clay’s won a lot of tournaments up here at this Fair Grounds Arena,” Dabbs said. “He has a good chance of not just placing, but going all the way.

Atwood placed second at the regional tournament last week to Ricky McCarty of Lawton MacArthur, who is the No. 1 seed on the other side of the bracket.

Along with Plainview’s Fagan, Atwood is the only freshman from this area in his weight class.

Erik K. Horne