Barring any 11th-hour problems, Jon Smith finally will get to compete in the state wrestling tournament.
Smith qualified for the 4A state meet a year ago as a fourth place finisher in regional competition. Less than 24 hours later, he was hospitalized with an appendicitis attack.
He's getting another chance this year.
“That was hard not getting to go, said Smith, who finished second at 125 pounds during regional competition last weekend at Bixby.
Senior Jacob Sharbutt and juniors Justin Herd and Jed Gibson also will represent the Wardogs at the state tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
That's the most the Wardogs have sent since coach Justin Gibson's first season at the MHS helm.
“Placing in the top two at regionals was a big goal for me, Smith said. “I got in the top two. Now we will see what we can do at state.
Smith (27-8) was pinned by East Central sophomore Jeremy Goree at 3:32 of their 125-pound championship match.
Smith has a “can't miss name in Oklahoma wrestling circles. The “other Smith in Oklahoma wrestling circles is Oklahoma State coach and former Olympian John Smith.
“There's a lot of pressure because he's a big idol to everyone, the Wardogs' Smith said. His birth name was Cook but changed to Smith after his stepfather.
“When your name is Jon Smith, you have to live up to it, Jon Smith said. “They expect it out of you. You've got to put on a show and show them what you are made of.
The Wardogs' Smith opens with Woodward freshman Jake Ruble (28-9).
“It will take everything I've got, and a little bit more, Jon Smith said.
“The season has been hard, but this is what it comes down to, Smith said. “I am looking forward to the challenge.
This will be Sharbutt's second trip to the state meet. He qualified as a sophomore, losing in the first round, and was an alternate last year.
Sharbutt (27-4) eked out a 5-3 decision over Levi Queen of Harrah in the finals at 215. He will face Ardmore junior Andy Mendoza (14-4) in the first round.
It takes a lot of hard work and a good pairing, Sharbutt said. “I know three of the people in the bracket. It's nice to know what you can do and can't do, but sometimes it's nice just going out there and not knowing what is going on, feeling your way in the first period then go on from there.
This will be the first trip to Oklahoma City for Herd, who has been an alternate the previous two years.
Herd pinned Skiatook junior Newly Taylor at 5:01 of their 189-pound consolation final. Herd has drawn Lawton MacArthur senior - and No. 1 seed - Chris McNeil (28-1) in the first round.
The first match will be pretty tough, Herd said. “Once I get past that one, it should be smooth sailing. I am healthy this year and I am giving it all I've got.
This will be the first trip to state for Gibson, whose dad is Miami's coach.
“He treats me just like someone else on the team, said the younger Gibson (29-7), who was pinned by Catoosa's Dallas Bailey in 1:41. His first-round foe will be Ryan Bilyeu (23-4), a sophomore from Guthrie.
“Three years hard work and dedication have paid off, Jed Gibson said.
The Wardogs might have had five qualify for the state meet had Matt McClain not been suffered a freak shoulder dislocation.
He was on the mat warming up for a consolation match.
“It's frustrating, said McClain, who suffered pulled muscles around the rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
“The guy I was warming up with did a nearside peak and my head hit mat and separated the shoulder, McClain said.
“I thought they were joking, Justin Gibson said. “They called me over and I thought they were just kidding, but he really was hurt.
Competition starts at 10:30 a.m. Friday in all four classes. First-round consolation matches will be at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
Saturday's schedule includes championship semifinals at 10:30 a.m., consolation semifinals at 1 p.m., consolation finals at 5 p.m. The finals and awards ceremony will follow that.