The latest edition of the Texas Outlaw wrestling meet, hosted at Allen, went off without a hitch Friday and Saturday, and even included a history-making result when all was said and done.
The Eagles, winners of 10 consecutive UIL state championships, totaled a tournament-record 806.5 points — enough to nearly double second-place Deer Creek’s 445 points and win and the event for the sixth consecutive year.
“The kids wrestled really well, especially coming off a bit of a break,” said Jerry Best, Allen head coach. “They’re starting to come together as a team and everybody really stepped up. You always worry about them coming back (from the holiday break) and maybe weighing a bit too much or not working out over the break, but it looked like all the kids did what they were supposed to do and it really showed for us.”
In keeping with tradition, the tournament drew a wide range of competition. This year’s 32-team field featured only eight programs from the Metroplex, as well as 10 from either Oklahoma or Arkansas.
In fact, it was Oklahoma that produced the meet’s second-, third- and fourth-place finishers, with Deer Park, Glenpool (440.5) and Jenks (437) rounding out the top four. Other Dallas-area programs in attendance included Allen’s white team (ninth place, 351), Frisco Centennial (12th, 275), Coppell (24th, 86), McKinney Christian (27th, 83.5), Frisco Wakeland (29th, 47), Frisco Heritage (30th, 42) and Plano Senior (31st, 40.5).
“I grew up in Oklahoma and that state has always been a hotbed for wrestling,” Best said. “I’ve got a lot of connections up there, and it’s pretty easy for us to drive a few hours and get some great competition and a lot of matches in. We do it pretty much every weekend.”
Although the event’s Oklahoma representatives left a strong impression, it was Texas’ high school wrestling standard bearer who ruled the day. In victory, Allen’s blue and white teams captured first overall in five of the meet’s 14 weight classes, placed second in three others and third in four more.
Gold medalists for Allen included junior Braxton Brown (113 pounds), sophomore Kade Moore (120), sophomore Anthony Ferrari (145), sophomore Mario Danzi (152) and senior Elise Brown Ton (170). Brown, Danzi and Brown Ton all captured UIL state titles last season — those three, along with Ferrari, are ranked atop their respective weight classes by WrestlingTexas.com.
One of the event’s most anticipated matchups came in the 170-pound final, which pit the weight class’s top-two-ranked grapplers in Brown Ton and Katy’s Kishawn Higgins. In a potential state tournament preview, it was Brown Ton who used a strong second period to distance from Higgins for a 7-3 decision.
“We had a lot of guys wrestle really well. At 170, Elise beat the defending state champ in the finals and it was a good match,” Best said. “He just out-wrestled him and looked like he was in a bit better shape.”
Brown and Ferrari turned in dominant showings in their respective tournament victories, with Brown taking down the state’s No. 1-ranked 5A 113-pounder — Centennial’s Tyten Volk — in just under two minutes, and Ferrari going the entire tournament without being scored upon.
Allen’s depth was on display elsewhere, with sophomore Caden Garcia taking second at 106 pounds, senior Rance Waigand placing third at 132, sophomore Vinny Oliva notching third at 182, senior Zane Davis logging second at 195 and junior Isaiah Steel closing out the 285-pound bracket in second.
Headlining placers from Allen’s white team, which placed ninth overall with 351 points, was freshman Caden Brown, who finished third overall at 106 pounds, as well as freshman Matt Thorsen, who took bronze at 113.
“We’ve wrestled a lot of those guys and they’ve traveled with us across the nation this year,” Best said. “It really showed when wrestling against some of the top kids down here and when they got in those tight matches they just found ways to win. They wrestled really well.”
Volk’s silver medal was one of two top-three finishes submitted by Frisco ISD at the Outlaw tournament. Joining Volk on the podium was teammate Arian Sejdini, who placed third in the 195-pound division. Additional top-10 finishes came from Centennial’s Joe Stephens (106, seventh), Wakeland’s Zach Miller (106, eighth) and Centennial’s John Bray (182, seventh).
McKinney Christian’s Denzel Poulter was one of the standout performers in the 170-pound division in taking third overall, while Coppell’s Joel Hernandez (113, ninth) and Jackson Briscoe (170, eighth) cracked the top 10 at 113 pounds, and Plano’s Anthony Reese mustered a 12th-place run at 160 pounds.
Postseason grappling doesn’t ramp up until Feb. 8 with Allen and Plano ISD competing the 8-6A tournament. Beforehand, the Eagles have a trio of meets in Oklahoma — Cushing on Jan. 10-11, Sand Springs on Jan. 17-18, and Owasso on Jan. 24-25 — before hosting the program’s quad meet on Jan. 28.
“We’re just looking to stay healthy and make sure the kids are on top of their grades, plus maybe get a couple kids in at different weights,” Best said. “We’ll make a few corrections on some of the things we’ve been doing wrong, and if we can do that then I think we’ll be OK going down the final stretch of the season.”