Morris’ Wright, Henryetta’s Wynne end high school careers with state championships
Okmulgee County athletics was well represented at State during the 202223 school year.
There was at least one representative from the county in every sport that features one of the eight county high schools.
The highlight of the 2022-23 season that featured county representatives came in wrestling and track and field. Morris’ Jaxen Wright and Henryetta’s Blake Wynne ended their high school athletic careers on a winning note, capturing individual state championships in 2022-23.
Wright made history with his state championship, as the Morris senior became the first-ever state wrestling champion in school history when he took home the 165-pound state championship at the Class 3A state wrestling championships in Oklahoma City.
Wynne, who set the Class 3A state record in the Long Jump in 2023, earned three Top 3 finishes at the Class 3A state track and field championships at Western Heights High School in Oklahoma City, capturing the individual state championship in the Long Jump, earning a state runner- up medal in the 100 meter dash, and was part of the third-place 1600 meter relay team for the Knights.
The first county team to punch their ticket to State in 2022-23 was the Morris Lady Eagle fastpitch softball team. The Lady Eagles saw their bid for a first-ever state softball championship end in the first round, falling to defending Class 3A state champion Washington by a 6-0 margin.
The next state tournament to feature Okmulgee County athletes was the Class 3A state cross country championships in Edmond where Henryetta’s Kenleigh Kaler and Xander Lollis and Beggs’ Chasity Clay were among the field of runners at the state meet. Kaler finished 29th in the girls 2-mile race, while Clay crossed the finish line in 106th place. Lollis finished 104th overall in the boys 5k race to close out his high school cross country career.
The 2022 varsity football campaign saw four county teams earn postseason spots with the Dewar Dragons having the most success, reaching the quarterfinal round before ending their dreams of a state championship with a 46-0 shutout loss to Oklahoma Bible Academy in the Class B state football playoffs.
The other county teams to earn playoff spots in football in 2022 were the Beggs Golden Demons, Wilson Tigers, and Henryetta Golden Knights. Beggs pulled off an opening-round upset, defeating Class 2A-8 champion and second-ranked Rejoice Christian by a 48-28 margin. The Demons’ dreams of a state championship in 2022 ended in the second round, falling to Idabel by a 24-12 margin.
Wilson and Henryetta narrowly missed opening-round wins in their playoff appearances, as Wilson fell to Maysville by a 36-30 margin in Class C, while Henryetta dropped a 14-12 decision to Eufaula in its Class 2A playoff battle.
Joining Wright at the Class 3A state wrestling championships in 2023 were Morris’ Jace Allred and Henryetta’s Jordyn Miller.
The Preston Pirates and Lady Pirates were the lone county representatives at the basketball state tournaments in Oklahoma City, earning their first trips to State since 2017. The Lady Pirates dropped their opening-round meeting with Pawhuska 55-30 at the Class 2A state basketball championships, while the Pirates came up short in their bid for their first state championship since 2009 with a heartbreaking 72-70, overtime, loss to Oklahoma Christian Academy in the semifinals of the Class 2A state basketball championships. The Preston gentlemen reached the semifinal round following a 58-36 thrashing of Hobart in the quarterfinal round.
The Preston Lady Pirate slowpitch softball team earned their first state tournament appearance since 2019 in 2023 and appeared on their way to an opening-round win over Oktaha in the Class 4A state slowpitch softball championships in Oklahoma City, but watched their quarterfinal opponent score seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to hand the Lady Pirates the heartbreaking 9-8 defeat.
Three county schools were represented at the girls golf state championships in Ardmore in 2023.
The Henryetta Lady Knights sent their entire 4-member team to the 2-day event, while Beggs (2) and Morris (1) were represented by individual players.
The Lady Knights finished sixth overall at the Class 3A state golf championships, while Morris’ Leah Ansley was the top county individual at the event, finishing tied for 12th individually.
Beggs’ Kaitlyn Brafford finished tied for 44th overall on the individual leaderboard, while teammate Piper Nix was two spots behind in 46th place.
The Henryetta Lady Knight tennis team came away with a second-straight state runner-up finish at the 2023 Class 4A state tennis championships with the No. 1 Doubles team of Kellyn Lollis and Katie Davis capturing individual state championship medals at the 2-day event in Oklahoma City.
The Henryetta Golden Knights had one individual representative at the Class 3A state golf championships in 2023 with Brady Norman finishing tied for 42nd overall at the 2-day event in Ardmore.
The Henryetta Golden Knight varsity tennis team sent each member to the Class 4A state tennis championships in 2023, finishing tied for seventh overall at the 2-day event.
There were a total of 37 Okmulgee County athletes that qualified for the state track and field championships in 2023.
Okmulgee’s Larry Yahola was the only other county individual to come away with a Top 3 finish at the Class 3A state meet, finishing with a state runner-up medal in the 400 meter dash.
The Dewar Dragons and Preston Pirates were the final county athletic teams to earn state tournament berths in 2023, punching their tickets to the Class A and 2A state baseball championships, respectively.
The Dragons earned their thirdstraight semifinal appearance in baseball in 2023 before being denied their first state championship since 1978 with a 14-4 loss to top-ranked Rattan in the Class A semifinal round. The Dewar squad earned a spot in the semifinals following a 7-4, comefrom-behind, win over Wright City in the quarterfinal round.
The Pirates saw their bid for their first-ever state baseball championship derailed in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state baseball championships with an 11-0 loss to top-ranked Silo.