SULPHUR — Throughout sports, groups of five have always been associated with success.
The “Fab Five” brought championship glory to Michigan in college basketball during the 1990’s, while the “Fierce Five” put the United States women’s gymnastics program on the map at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
Now there’s a new group of five on the block, and they come out of Sulphur High School.
The fighting five.
Beginning Friday morning, Caleb Pierce, Konnor Lunsford, Trey Kiser, Luke Henry and Dan Baker will all take their shot at obtaining their own piece of gold as they each compete for state titles in Oklahoma City at the state wrestling tournament.
“Dan (Baker) is probably the favorite to win at 220,” Sulphur coach Drew Swartz said. “Trey (Kiser) has as good of a shot of winning it as anyone else does. He’s got an unbelievable amount of talent and natural ability. Luke Henry is going to be at a disadvantage, but the great thing about this weekend is whoever is on their ‘A’ game can win it.”
“Konner and Caleb are in here everyday
with the rest of them grinding it out,” Swartz added. “We’re not just happy about making it to the state tournament. We need to get over that hump and go out there and win it.”
The five wrestlers are the most Swartz said he could remember the program sending in recent history, which gives Bulldog fans plenty of reason to hope for a gold rush this weekend.
Caleb Pierce will begin his journey against Alex Prince from Vinita in the quarterfinals Friday morning. Pierce was the fourth place finisher out of the west regional, but was slotted into the third place slot. Pierce enters the state tournament with an overall record of 18-16, with Prince at 31-7.
Konner Lunsford was also another fourth place regional finisher who was slotted into the third place slot at 126, and as a result he will face off against Sperry’s Cooper Park in the Quarterfinals.
Lunsford enters with an overall record of 21-16 for the season, with Park at 27-14.
Trey Kiser will be making his first appearance at the state tournament, and he will mark his maiden voyage with a birth in the quarterfinals against Vinita’s Aidan Hicks. Kiser is 23-11 on the season, while Hicks is 35-4.
“I’ve been preparing for this all year, and I’m just ready to take it all in and see what happens,” Kiser said. “Dan (Baker) has been practicing with me everyday and preparing me for this point in the season. These underclassmen have been showing the younger kids what’s possible for the younger kids when they get to high school and what happens when you work hard.”
Luke Henry will have to earn his way into the quarterfinals as he will be among the first participants in the Wrestle-In match, as he will face off against Bobby Goines from Salina in the 195 pound division.
A victory will put Henry into the double elimination tournament and a chance for a state title, while a loss will end his run at the state tournament.
And then there’s Dan Baker.
Baker will be making his fourth straight appearance at the state tournament, and will be looking to not only win his second state title, but finish something he’s yet to accomplish in his high school career, a perfect season, as he enters the state tournament with a 38-0 record.
Wrestlers from Sperry and Vinita will face off in the Wrestle-In match to decide Baker’s quarterfinal opponent.
“You have to put in a lot of extra time and hours to win a state title,” Baker said. “Sulphur has always been my home, and everything I’ve ever done is to make the team better, whether it was for football or wrestling.”
“The biggest difference from last year to this year has been my maturity,” Baker added. “I’ve been more serious this season since I’m the senior. I’ve had to be a voice this season and lead with my actions as well. I’m looking forward to doing the same this weekend.”
Should Baker make it to the semifinals, he would face off against either Dallin Hacker from Tonkawa, or Alton Allen from Perkins-Tryon.
Hacker enters the state tournament with an overall record of 13-7. while Allen currently sits with an overall record on the season of 29-6.
Tyler Thompson (Sperry) is also a 1 seed.