Brian Johnson Special Correspondent
Ada — When the Ada High School wrestling squad takes to the mat Friday for the Class 4A regionals at Harrah High School, it will be the Cougars’ first competition in 21 days.
Due to the recent winter weather, Ada lost two duals and a tournament off its schedule due to cancellations.
In that three-week stretch, the Cougars’ competition has been among the team itself.
Considering the developments of the 2013-14 Ada wrestling campaign, it might not be a bad thing. Despite being void at four weights this season, the Cougars have posted a 5-4 dual record and placed in the top 10 of several tournaments.
“These guys are ready to compete. They’re ready to go against someone different,” said Ada head coach Kyle Bohannon.
Leadership by Ada’s three seniors has been critical, Bohannon said. Two of those Cougar seniors — Royce Garvin at 195 pounds and Danny Lamb at 220 — were state qualifiers last season.
“Our senior leadership has been really good,” Bohannon said. “They’ve been chomping at the bit.”
Garvin has produced an impressive 19-2 record this season with first-place efforts at the McAlester and Midwestern Conference Tournaments, along with a runner-up finish in the Tuttle Tournament.
“This is only Royce’s second year in wrestling. He qualified for state last year and was one win away from placing at state,” said Bohannon. “With his 19-2 record, he has really put in the time last spring, in the summer and in the fall. He’s done what we’ve asked of him.”
Lamb is 22-7 with third-place finishes at McAlester and the Midwestern Conference Tourney and a fifth-place effort at Tuttle.
“Danny moved here as a sophomore and has been a great addition to this team the last three years,” Bohannon said. “He, like all of our kids, is of high character.”
Ada’s other senior, Will LaBove, has compiled a 20-8 record at 160 pounds with a runner-up effort in the Midwestern Conference Tournament, a third-place finish at McAlester and a fifth-place spot at the Bristow Tournament.
“Will has really stepped up. He’s performed well in several tournaments, and he’s really starting to come along at the right time,” said Bohannon.
Two Cougar juniors — Marwin Dickerson at heavyweight and Colton Lancaster at 182 pounds — and sophomore Levi Grimes at 170 have been solid as well this season.
Dickerson has posted an outstanding 28-2 mark with championship finishes in the Coweta and Midwestern Conference Tournaments, along with second-place efforts in tournaments at McAlester and Tuttle.
“Dickerson has wrestled some of the top guys and has beat them or lost by just a point. His brother Michael (at 220 pounds) was a state placer two years. They’ve really done a good job for us,” Bohannon said. “Marwin is an outstanding kid with great character. He’s been putting in some time, and it’s paying off.”
Lancaster owns an 18-7 record this season with a third-place finish at the McAlester Tournament, a fourth in the Midwestern Conference Tourney and a fifth at Coweta.
“Colton wants to get better and is constantly working. In his last match, we saw great improvement,” said Bohannon.
Grimes, with a 20-4 record, finished first at the McAlester Tournament and ended up third at Coweta and the Midwestern Conference Tourney.
“Levi was one match away from qualifying for state as a freshman. He’s progressing in the right way and is having a great sophomore season,” Bohannon said.
Also competing at regionals for Ada are sophomores Chris Henry and Gareth Baker at 132 and 138 pounds respectively and junior Nestor Powell at 145.
The regional will begin at noon oFriday, and competition starts up again at noon Saturday in Harrah. Tuttle, the regional favorite, is shooting for its sixth straight state title while Vinita, which fell to Tuttle in the dual state championships last weekend, is a runner-up favorite.
“We’re a good team, and we’ll score a lot of points. We just have some gaps in which we won’t have wrestlers at four weights,” said Bohannon.
The top four placers in each weight division advance to the state tournament, set for Feb. 28-March 1 at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.