In the back of Catoosa High School's new activity centerIn a room just big enough to fit a pair of standard regulation size wrestling mats. Tuesday evening, boys roughly between the ages of 6-12 were wrestling in preparations for this week's Tulsa Nationals.
When it comes to U.S. youth wrestling, this meet is the most prestigious for all competitive amateur wrestlers. And a seven-year-old from the Catoosa wrestling club comes into this week as the second ranked wrestler in the country for his age group in the heavyweight division -- Gunner Wilson.
Gunner's success comes as no surprise to his father Blake Wilson. He too won numerous Oklahoma state titles in his youth and sees the same kind of promise in his son.
"He's real good, real technical for his age," Blake said. "He's real tough and real strong. And it's all about working hard."
If work ethic is an indicator of success, then Gunner must be dedicated. Earlier this month in the US Junior Olympic Championships in Oklahoma City, not only did Gunner go undefeated, he shut out every one of his opponents.
So what does the Catoosa first grader like about wrestling?
"I like to pin them," said Gunner. "And I like to win first place because it's fun to win."
That makes sense because Wilson seems to win a lot. But what he hasn't had is an opportunity to beat the #1 wrestler in his age group. That will change this weekend at the Tulsa Nationals.
Tyson Terry from Nebraska holds that rank coming into this meet and the Wilson's know it'll be a challenge. "Yeah, it's going to be a tough match but I believe we can get it done," acknowledged Blake.
When seven year old Gunner was asked what makes Tyson such a good wrestler, Gunner shrugged and smiled. "Nothing," he said.
At least we know confidence won't be an issue for Gunner going into this weekend's Tulsa Nationals at the Expo Square Pavilion located on the Tulsa Fairgrounds. The meet is scheduled for January 18-19.
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