It took a little time, but the dedication and hard work finally paid off for the Elgin Owls last week when they claimed their first-ever Dual State wrestling championship.
The Owls plowed through the 5A bracket, knocking off Pryor, 48-18, in the quarterfinals, defending champion Collinsville, 48-21, in the semifinals, and second-ranked Coweta, 40-27, in the title match.
“A lot of these kids I’ve had since they were in our youth program,” said Elgin coach Cody Rowell. “Our community is proud that they were raised in our youth program. Now they’re reaping the rewards in high school. Seeing it come full circle is really cool.”
Having a quality youth program is paramount to maintaining a school’s wrestling program, and Rowell and his staff have created that type of tradition in Elgin.
“We’re fortunate now that we’re not top-heavy with juniors and seniors,” stated Rowell. “Those kids we’ve had in our feeder programs are now freshmen and sophomores, but they’re performing at a junior or senior year level. That’s been very, very helpful.”
“I try to be consistent with all of my programs,” added Rowell on how he’s created that pipeline. “I try to spend as much time with the little guys as I do with the high schoolers. Having coaches dedicated to all levels makes you want to invest and buy in. That’s something that we’ve been successful with. It’s a testament to all the youth coaches and the guys I have on my staff as well. We have a tremendous wrestling staff here.”
In the title match against Coweta, Elgin recorded four pins and a major decision, giving the Owls 13 bonus points, which turned out to be the winning margin.
“We wanted to get pins where we could, and majors and as many bonus points as we needed to,” admitted Rowell. “I thought our kids did a really, really good job of that.”
The Owls received solid performances throughout its lineup the entire weekend. Rowell singled out Dominick Benedetto (144 lbs), Jack Angelley (150) and Kade Dittmeyer (165), for winning key matches in the tournament. He also mentioned the solid performances of Hunter Jackson (113), Ritson Meyer (190) and Collyn Donnelly (215) for wrestling extremely well.
The Owls will have to hold off on celebrating the school’s first Dual State championship for a few weeks. Elgin returns to the mat this weekend for the 5A individual Regionals at Carl Albert and the individual state tournament the following week in Oklahoma City.
“It was a quick turnaround,” stated Rowell. “We were right back at practice on Monday. We told them that what they did was awesome. More than anything, they put in a lot of hard work and got rewarded for it.”
“We hope to continue this,” added Rowell. “We want to win every year and keep putting out a great product.”