With Bedlam in the rearview mirror and talk of freezing temperatures and possible snow this week it can only mean one thing. The winter sports season is upon us.
Tonight the sound of sneakers squeaking on the hardwood will replace the cracking of helmets that have filled Friday nights in Edmond. And after a spectacular fall season in which local schools claimed two team state titles and one individual crown, I can only hope for more this winter.
The three Edmond swimming teams got a head start on things and appear to be on their way to another great season under head coach Steve Riggs. North and Memorial look to have strong boys and girls teams, but the surprise has been the emergence of the Santa Fe squads, which opened with wins over Ponca City and Shawnee.
This could also be a big season for girls basketball in Edmond. North, Santa Fe and Deer Creek are each coming off state tournament berths with many key pieces back in the lineup. Leading the way in that group will be a pair of Division I commits in North junior Elizabeth Donohoe (Oklahoma State) and Santa Fe sophomore Courtney Walker (Oklahoma), who could push their teams deep in the playoffs. Memorial and Oklahoma Christian School girls narrowly missed out on state, but should be in the mix again this year.
On the boys side there does not seem to a be clear cut favorite with Santa Fe, North and OCS all coming off state tournament appearances, but without some major players. The Huskies will have to bounce back without all-state forward Eric Randall, while the Wolves said goodbye to seniors Jordan Murrell and Chris Jones and the Saints will be without Jon Merrill and Hank Holland.
Things weren’t so rosy for the Bulldogs and Antlers last season, but both have reasons to smile. Memorial still has many returning starters in the fold with Obi Emegano leading the charge. The Antlers showed a lot of heart with a strong late season push, after starting the year 1-13. While they have a new coach in Matt Bailey many of the faces are the same including a strong backcourt duo of Jalen Burnett and Garrett Hermanski.
Tonight we’ll get a peak at OCS and Deer Creek, who open at home, while Santa Fe hits the road for Stillwater.
Area wrestlers got in one last tune-up last week at the annual Sean Kyle/Johny Hendricks Open at Memorial High School and should be ready for the real thing. All three Edmond schools open the season at home this week, while Deer Creek has another week off before starting out on the road against El Reno and Piedmont on Dec. 8.
The Huskies and Antlers enjoyed a lot of success on the mat a year ago and could see more of the same this winter. The Huskies lost their only state placer in Ryan Hanson, but believe they have enough talent to make a run at the Class 6A state title.
Deer Creek is in a similar boat, except their losses were more painful with state champions Cade Draper and Hunter Muskrat both gone. But with five returning state qualifiers in the lineup, including the talented Boyd brothers, the Antlers will be a force in Class 5A.
Memorial and Santa Fe are coming off disappointing campaigns but both should be primed for bigger and better things. Memorial coach Darren Huff believes the ‘Dogs have plenty of state tournament caliber wrestlers and is certain they’ll make the most of it. Meanwhile, the Wolves are looking to take the next step in building their program after getting shut out of the state tournament in 2009.