Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
TUTTLE, Okla. —
David Eakers turned it up during the second half of last season. He started out well enough, but elevated his game in the second half high enough to place in the state tournament.
"He was good the first part of the year, but the second half of the last year he turned it up a notch, and majored a kid who ended up winning state in 4A who had beaten him earlier," head coach Chad Randle said. "You can teach the kids a lot of things, but they're going to grow and mature mentally at their own pace."
If last year was any indication, Eakers' pace is relatively quick. He hasn't lost a match this season, and has won both tournaments Chickasha has competed in this year.
At the Deer Creek Invitational and then two weeks later at the Anadarko Invitational, Eakers was named Outstanding Wrestler for his performances.
"David came a long way last year, in figuring things out about himself, and hopefully he grows more this year," Randle said.
After finishing fourth in the state tournament last year, Eakers has a state championship in his sights this year.
"After getting fourth last year, it just made me want it even more," Eakers said. "I wasn't satisfied with it at all. I mean, I was happy that I placed, but it just made me want to push even harder."
Wrestling at 132 pounds, Eakers is one of the top wrestlers in the Chickasha lineup, along with Jacoby Brown.
"I just hope to score in positions that I don't normally score in, especially on better kids," Eakers said. "I need to learn to push myself even harder, knowing that my competition is better than me."
Eakers is pleased with his performance so far this year, but knows there is work still to be done if he wants to reach his goal.
"I'm pretty excited, and satisfied with what I've done so far, because I got OW at our two tournaments," Eakers said. "I'm just pushing to do even better at the upcoming tournaments."
Over the break, Chickasha has had practices with several of the top teams in the state as the Fightin' Chicks try to stay sharp over the holidays.
Friday, the Chickasha wrestling team was in Tuttle working out with the Tigers and nationally-ranked Edmond North High School.
The three teams worked out for about two hours, doing mostly live wrestling in different situations, before ending the practice with conditioning.
"When we come to these Christmas break practices, especially when we come to Tuttle, and I knew Edmond North was going to be here, it's probably the best thing for my more advanced kids," Randle said. "It's a good chance to learn about toughness and learn how to scrap a little bit."
Randle said he thinks his kids have the toughness they need. The challenge against programs like Tuttle and Edmond North is experience.
"They've probably got more kids who have wrestled their whole lives," Randle said. "We've got a lot of kids that have less experience. The toughness part is more about learning about ourselves and trying to get an edge."
Chickasha took a lot of momentum into the break, winning all three of its duals and finishing second as a team in the Anadarko Invitational.
The Fightin' Chicks will do more group practices with other teams during the rest of the break. Monday, Tuttle came to Chickasha to practice, along with Comanche.
Anadarko will also practice with Chickasha a few times this week, as Randle looks to prepare his team against solid competition outside class 5A.
"To be quite honest, I try to find teams to go with Jacoby, because he's hard to match up with," Randle said. "So I try to find teams that have really good upper weights. Tuttle's got their state championship heavyweight, and Comanche has a two-time state championship at David [Eakers'] weight. It's harder to find teams to match up with your elite kids."
After the holiday break Chickasha will return to action Jan. 4-5 for the Pauls Valley Invitational.
The week after that, the Chicks will have two away duals: 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Shawnee and 6 p.m. Jan. 10 at Carl Albert in Midwest City, Okla.