When Chickasha junior Josh Latham won his first state championship Saturday night at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City, he didn’t care who joined in on the celebration.
Once the 182-pound state finals match ended with Latham taking a 5-1 decision, he hugged his coaches. Then he hugged the referee.
“I can’t stop smiling,” Latham said after the match. “I gave my mom a big hug as soon as I found her. Really anybody that came up to me, whether I knew them or not, I hugged them. They didn’t seem to mind.”
Latham capped off a 38-4 junior season with a state championship win over Jacob Lamb of Del City, a wrestler he had just beaten a week earlier in the 5A West regional finals.
At regionals, Latham pinned Lamb in the first period. The state tournament match went much differently, although the result was the same.
“He definitely knew what I was going for,” Latham said. “The last time, I was really aggressive and I went out there and pinned him in the first. I don’t know if I caught him or not. This one, he gave it his all. He definitely didn’t want to lose, that’s for sure.”
The match started with Latham attacking, as he has all year. He scored a takedown with 50 seconds left in the period, and scored a near fall as time expired to take a 4-0 lead going into the second.
After that, Latham was in control of the whole match, and showed the stamina necessary to hold on in the third period, something he has struggled with at times in his career.
“He’s kind of always had a problem with his wind in the third period, because he wants to wrestle my style and just go, go, go, and he didn’t have the gas tank for it to be quite honest,” head coach Chad Randle said. “Probably the middle of the year this year we talked, and changed our strategy to wrestle a little more under control, slowing the pace down and methodically kicking peoples’ butts. It helped a lot.”Latham got a relatively late start in wrestling, picking up the sport his freshman year and wrestling junior high. It didn’t take him long to start having success, and he qualified for the state tournament his sophomore year.
“I’ll tell you what, Josh has come along on his own,” Randle said. “He first came out as a freshman. He took to the sport. Loved it, just a student of it.”
Now, Latham has a chance to follow in the footsteps of teammate Jacoby Brown, who became Chickasha’s first two-time state champion Saturday night, and he said he’s already thought about it.
“I’m going to take a week off, then get right back to work,” Latham said.