Being crowned state champion for the first time in program history last season is a feat that the Plainview wrestling team considers to be an honor.
It has also made the Indians hungry for more.
Plainview begins its quest for its second state title in a row, when it opens the season with a double dual Tuesday against Little Axe and Durant at Plainview High School. The first match starts at 6 p.m.
“It was a really good feeling,” Plainview senior Zach Atencio said of winning the state title. “It was just awesome to be around that atmosphere. We not only won individual titles, but we also won it as a team. It was a lot better to win it as a team because everybody enjoyed the same feeling.”
Atencio, the son of Plainview head coach Rocky Atencio, believes that this season’s team is just as good as last season’s state champion squad.
“I would say that we’re better,” he said.
Atencio – the Class 3A state runner-up at 120 pounds his junior season – is one of five returning state qualifiers for the Indians. He has been bumped up one weight class to 126 for this season.
Junior Ty Lucas is the most decorated wrestler out of all of the returners. He won the 138-pound state title his sophomore season with a 47-1 record. He will compete in the 145-pound class this winter.
Senior Dorian Fagan brings good experience to the upper weights and figures to be in the mix for a state title at 220 pounds after wrestling to third place his junior season.
Junior Bodie Davis is also a returning state medalist, having taking fourth at 160 pounds as a sophomore. He will make the adjustment to the competition at 182 pounds this season.
Senior Tanner O’Neal hopes to avoid the injury bug. He won his first match at the state tournament this past winter but subsequently was injured and then had to forfeit the remainder of the event due to the setback. He will wrestle at 152.
There are three transfers who could really make a big splash for Plainview.
Jaxson and Maddy Roney come to Plainview from Kingfisher, where they enjoyed tremendous success on the mat.
Maddy, a senior, is the defending state champion at 126 pounds. He will wrestle at 132.
Jaxson, meanwhile, is a returning state qualifier who came within one win of earning his place on the medal stand as a freshman. He will wrestle at 113.
“I think that he’s (Jaxson) is going to go out there and win it (state title),” Zach Atencio said.
Plainview will have great competition at 182 pounds with both Davis and senior Seth Fritts, a transfer from Tahlequah, both vying for mat time at the varsity level. Fritts was the 182-pound state runner-up as a junior.
Fritts hasn’t stepped onto the mat but he can already sense a good, competitive nature amongst the Indians.
“Being a move-in this year, I had never wanted to win something so bad, being my senior year,” he said. “I had never had the opportunity to win one as an individual and as a team.”
Fritts has really been impressed with how freshman 106-pounder Nick Vercelli works.
“He’s going to qualify (for the state tournament),” Fritts said of Vercelli.
Plainview junior Darius Clark will compete at 120 pounds. Sophomores Zane Miller, Trevor Bass and Andrew Vercelli will battle it out for mat time at 138. Junior Garrett Willis will lead the Indians at 160. Junior Eli Paul will compete at 170, as will senior Tyler Owens.
Junior Bracken Campbell and freshman Connor O’Neal will compete at 195.
“From 106 to heavyweight, we’re good,” Fritts said. “We worked hard all summer. We haven’t reach our goals yet. But, if we keep working hard, we’ll get them.”
Plainview hopes the hard work that it did in the practice room, and at tournaments and camps as far away as Nevada, will pay off for the Indians.
Plainview will log thousands of miles on the road before the new year. Later this week, the Indians will compete in the Pine Creek Duals in Colorado Springs, Colo. From Dec. 28-30, Plainview will be in Pennsylvania for the Powerade High School Tournament.
“To be the best, you have to wrestle the best, and that’s what Rocky is doing for us,” Fritts said. “I think we’re going to see where we are, and if we just keep working hard, we’re going to be where we want to be.”
In the days leading up to the team’s first event of the season, Plainview isn’t taking anything for granted, Fagan said.
“Everyone is working hard,” he said.