Vancuren out as Owasso basketball coach

Mark Vancuren is out as Owasso boys basketball coach. Vancuren confirmed his decision to step down at Owasso on Tuesday afternoon.

“Coaching at Owasso has been an awesome experience for my family & I,” said Vancuren, who was 113-45 while coaching the Owasso boys. “I love it here. There is no better place to teach, or coach, in Oklahoma than Owasso.

“There just comes a time when you know the circumstances are right for you to make a change. Owasso will always have a very special place in my heart. I learned to play basketball here. I had the greatest coaches here in Dub Raper, Larry Turner, Steve Holleman and Jim Kight.”

Vancuren, who took over the Owasso girls program prior to the 2004-2005 season, recently wrapped up his sixth season as the boys head coach. The Rams went 15-11 and were eliminated from postseason play during the area tournament during the 2016-2017 season.

“We appreciate coach Vancuren for his dedication, commitment and all that he has done for the basketball program, the student athletes and Owasso Public Schools,” Owasso athletic director Zach Duffield said. “We wish him nothing but the best. A search for a new head basketball coach to lead the program will begin immediately.”

“I will always be grateful for the opportunity I was given to lead Ram teams,” Vancuren said. “My players, girls and boys, always gave me their very best efforts in every competition. We’ve been successful and I will never forget the memories I’ve been afforded by the athletes I’ve coached here. Owasso parents raise their kids right and they’re awesome kids.

“If the Lord is willing, I look forward to coaching somewhere next year. If not, I will remain as a teacher at Owasso High School and be happy as ever. It was a lot of fun, but it’s time for a new challenge. I look forward to it.”


Source: Jerry Ricke named Lincoln Christian head coach

Lincoln Christian’s Darren Melton met with football players this morning, and it was revealed that Jerry Ricke would be the Bulldogs’ new head coach, a source indicated on Friday morning. Melton later confirmed Ricke as the second head coach in the program’s history at Lincoln Christian.

Melton, Lincoln Christian’s head coach for 15 years since the program was established in 2002, will remain as the Bulldogs’ athletic director. Melton went 142-39 with a 2009 state championship in Class 2A during his reign with the Bulldogs.

In February, Melton became a new board member of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. He occupied the spot that was vacated by Washington’s Stuart McPherson.

Ricke takes over after serving as Lincoln Christian’s offensive coordinator.

With University of Tulsa signee Reed Martin rushing for 2,366 yards, Lincoln Christian went 10-3 during the 2016 season. The Bulldogs compiled 560 points in a season that concluded in the Class 3A quarterfinals with a 35-34 loss to Plainview.

Brandon Tyler takes over at Gore

Brandon Tyler is returning to Oklahoma, and he’s landing in a spot he’s very familiar with: his alma mater. Tyler will be the head coach of the Gore Pirates when the 2017 season commences.

“It’s where I went to school and played,” said Tyler, most recently an assistant at Van Buren (Ark.). “My uncle, Richard Moseley, was the head coach there for 25 years, but I will be the eighth head coach since he retired in 2005.”

Tyler takes over the vacancy left by Scott Sapulpa. Gore went 3-7 in 2016, and the Pirates have gone 5-35 since making a playoff appearance during the 2012 season.

“It will definitely be a challenge, but I am looking forward to it,” Tyler said. “I think we have great kids what are ready to get going and be competitive next season.”

Before joining Greg Warner’s staff at Van Buren, Tyler was the head coach of Vian, a perennial small-small state contender. While in Vian, Tyler went 128-25 in 12 years.

“It feels great to get back into Oklahoma,” Tyler said. “It’s where I have coached for 20 years, and there are lots of coaching buddies that I will get to see again.

“My time in Arkansas was great. It was a great experience to be able to coach at the 7A level. I got to see Division I talent just about every Friday night. Working for Coach Werner was a great experience, and he is a great coach but even a better man and person. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and Van Buren High school for giving me the opportunity.”

Now Tyler’s focus shifts to Gore, a program that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2011. The Pirates will also be after their first district title since 2011.

“Getting to go back and give to the school and community where I grew up in is an awesome feeling,” Tyler said. “Our expectations are always going to be high while trying to win a district championship. Making the playoffs will always be our goal year in and year out, and hopefully we can compete with the top teams in class A.”

NCAA wrestling – championship picks

Here are my predictions for St. Louis…

125: This futile exercise began with me leaning toward taking Virginia Tech’s Joey Dance. Then I started doing some research (nothing too strenuous, I can guarantee you that). Lehigh’s Darian Cruz has been rolling since the Southern Scuffle to begin the 2017 calendar year, and one of his losses this year is to Penn State’s Nick Suriano, who withdrew from the national championships on Wednesday.

Cruz will have his work cut out for him, because Iowa’s Thomas Gilman is on the top half of the bracket with him. Gilman is last year’s runner-up at 125, and he’s 27-0 this season, but picking Cruz is just a hunch.

Dance could have the easiest route to the finals with Suriano being a medical scratch.

Finals prediction: Cruz beats Dance, 7-6.


133: On the surface, Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello looks like the easy choice. But Tomasello went to the Big 10 Championships and posted three narrow victories —all low-scoring wins by decision no more than two points. If that’s against Iowa’s Cory Clark, I can let that slide, but there’s no way Tomasello should only be beating Rutgers’ Scott DelVecchio 6-4.

Then there’s Seth Gross, sophomore at South Dakota State. His lone loss was a 2-0 sudden victory setback against Nebraska’s Eric Montoya  in late December.  He’s been lights out since with 17 of his last 19 wins by major decision, technical fall or by fall. The only two victories that didn’t include bonus points were both against Oklahoma State’s Kaid Brock — both victories by two points.

I will add, Gross was very impressive in the finals of the Big 12 Championships after he took the lead against Brock. Brock started down in the third period, and Gross would not let him off the mat to score an escape point and work toward a takedown.

That’s it, I’ve talked myself into it.

Finals prediction: Gross over Tomasello 6-4.


141: Hard to envision a scenario that doesn’t include Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil in the finals. So makes it to the finals out of the bottom half of the bracket?

Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith, last year’s runner-up to Heil in the 141 national finals, wasn’t overly impressive at the Big 12 Championships. Neither Stanford’s Joey McKenna nor North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack have posted that many impressive victories this season, but I’ll go with McKenna to make the finals.

Finals prediction: Heil over McKenna, 7-3.


149: Saw Penn State’s Zain Retherford and Ohio State’s Micah Jordan were in the same half of the bracket up top. Thought maybe those two have had some close showdowns this year…nope! Retherford has owned Jordan, including last two by technical fall.

Bottom half of the bracket looks like a march toward Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica and Missouri’s Lavion Mayes in the semifinals. If that’s the case, I lean toward Mayes.

Finals prediction: Retherford over Mayes, 10-5.


157: Poor Michael Kemerer at Iowa. He has an impressive 27-2 record as the second-ranked wrestler at 157. Only problem is both losses have come to No. 1 Jason Nolf, and Nolf has won those matches rather easily.

OSU’s Joe Smith, the No. 5 seed, has his work cut out for him to make it past the semifinals with Nolf on his side of the bracket.

Finals prediction: Nolf over Kemerer, 12-3.


165: Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez is so good. He’s after his third championship in three years. There’s not much else to say.

The only drama at 165 could be all the solid matches that unfold in the bottom portion of the bracket. Michigan’s Logan Massa, Missouri’s Daniel Lewis and Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph are all candidates to be this year’s 165 runner-up.

Finals prediction: Martinez major decision over Massa, 14-5.


174: This weight is the definition of wide open. Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia is unbeaten at 33-0, but his list of solid opponents is pretty short. Could be an all-out free-for-all to the finish line.

OSU’s Kyle Crutchmer is making only his second trip the NCAA Championships, but 174 lacks a big favorite so that presents Crutchmer with a chance to make some noise.

Finals prediction: Cornell’s Brian Realbuto over Penn State’s Mark Hall, 4-3.


184: It’s been awhile since Cornell’s Gabe Dean has lost. OSU’s Nolan Boyd was the last to beat Dean, 14-9, on Feb. 7, 2016. Since then, nothing but having his arm raised after matches.

This season, Dean has beaten Boyd twice, and the top are in the top half of the 184 bracket.

Penn State’s Bo Nickal is the one to beat in the bottom half with Iowa’s Samuel Brooks and Ohio State’s Myles Martin adding some Big 10 punch.

Finals prediction: Dean over Martin, 10-4.


197: Like Martinez at 165, Missouri’s J’den Cox is the prohibitive favorite at 197.

Finals prediction: Cox over Ohio State’s Kollin Moore, 9-5.


285: It’s anybody’s guess when it comes to the big boys.

Finals prediction: Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder over Virginia Tech’s Ty Walz, 7-5.

All-State wrestling rosters

Large east

113: Julian Brownfield (Tahlequah)

120: Tyler Lawley (Broken Arrow)

126: Daton Fix (Sand Springs)

132: Garrett Wild (Glenpool)

138: Jack Karstetter (Sand Springs)

145: Nate Keim (Collinsville)

152: Elijah Tanner (Collinsville)

160: Austin Short (Claremore)

170: Christian Bahl (Stillwater)

182: Caleb McClaurin (Shawnee)

195: Bear Hughes (Coweta)

220: Matt Smith (Bishop Kelley)

HWT: Trenton Lieurance (Broken Arrow)


Small east

113: Taywone McNack (McLain)

120: Cale Betchan (Perry)

126: Jet Taylor (Sallisaw)

132: Levi Youngwolfe (Pawhuska)

138: Louden Akin (Sperry)

145: Wes Ahrberg (Cushing)

152: Tanner Skidgel (Cascia Hall)

160: Blake Johnson (Blackwell)

170: Zack Lowry (Perry)

182: Alex Kauffman (Vinita)

195: Malcolm Rodriguez (Wagoner)

220: Brock Martin (Oologah)

HWT: Dayne Thomason (Blackwell)


East coaches: Ty Bowling (Glenpool) and Josh Cunningham (Cleveland)


Large west

113: Wyatt Adams (Lawton Mac)

120: Canon Randall (Westmoore)

126: Tanner Cole (Deer Creek)

132: Gage Gomez (Altus)

138: Drew Wilson (Midwest City)

145: Dylan Rowland (Lawton Mac)

152: Austin Loze (Enid)

160: Chase Vincent (Yukon)

170: Gage McBride (Mustang)

182: Shane DeLong (Woodward)

195: Garrett Jones (Putnam City)

220: Jon Martinez (Westmoore)

HWT: Keegan Pride (Altus)


Small east

113: Sean Williams (Comanche)

120: Montana Moon (Chickasha)

126: Shawn Ramirez (Kingfisher)

132: Hunter Palacios (Newcastle)

138: Kaden Gfeller (Heritage Hall)

145: Tanner Litterell (Tuttle)

152: Brik Filippo (Tuttle)

160: Ty Lucas (Plainview)

170: Ross Shawnee (Geary)

182: Bodie Davis (Plainview)

195: Tanner Hawkins (Weatherford)

220: Conner Webb (Davis)

HWT: Maverick McCaskill (Davis)


Coaches: Greg George (Southmoore) and Corey Duncan (Weatherford)

Fuqua commits to ORU

R.J. Fuqua is quite familiar with the Mabee Center. The home of the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles was where his father, Richard Fuqua, played college basketball, and it’s where R.J. will prolong his basketball career.

On Tuesday, Fuqua committed to the Golden Eagles, days before his Booker T. Washington club takes on Westmoore in the opening round of the Class 6A state tournament.

“I am very excited to commit to ORU,” Fuqua said. “It’s a very special day, and something I’ve been thinking about my whole life.”

When it comes to a perfect marriage, Booker T. Washington coach Joe Redmond said that’s exactly what Fuqua going to ORU is.

“I don’t know if there’s ever been a better fit in the making for a kid to play at a certain school, with his dad playing there and him growing up in Tulsa,” Redmond told the Tulsa World.

At 81st and Lewis, R.J. Fuqua will play where his dad posted a 35.9 points per game average during the 1971-1972 season. That year, Richard Fuqua scored 1,006 points in 28 games, and he also shot 45 percent (423 of 941) from the field.

Richard Fuqua is the second-leading scorer in ORU history with 3,004 points. Only Greg Sutton (3,070) is higher on the school’s scoring list.

“It means a lot to play where my dad played my dad had a lot of records,” R.J. Fuqua said. “I feel as if I can come in and make my own name.”

R.J. Fuqua, a 5-foot-11 point guard averaging 15.7 points and five assists, also had offers from Houston Baptist and Missouri-Kansas City, and he said there was some consideration for going elsewhere. But in the end, he’ll join forces with Chris Miller, a former Booker T. Washington teammate.

“I am very excited to be playing with Chris again,” R.J. Fuqua said. “He is one of my good friends.”

Source: Standley named Deer Creek coach

Wade Standley has been hired as Deer Creek’s next football coach, per a source with knowledge of the Deer Creek special board meeting agenda on Monday afternoon.

Standley leaves Ada after two seasons. While the head coach of the Cougars, Standley went 11-10 overall and 9-4 in Class 4A district play. Both seasons ended with first-round playoff losses to Clinton.

Before taking over at Ada, Standley had guided Norman North to a 30-16 record from 2011 to 2014. Standley and the Timberwolves advanced to the Class 6A championship game in 2012, where they were beaten by Jenks.

At Deer Creek, Standley takes over the spot vacated by Jay Wilkinson, who stepped down in early February. Under Wilkinson, Deer Creek with 2-8 during the 2016 season.










Brock Martin leaves a lasting legacy at Oologah

Oologah High School’s trophy cases are littered with golden softball memories and a smattering of state championship plaques from volleyball, basketball and baseball. But now it’s getting to the point where there might not be enough room to house all of Brock Martin’s accomplishments.

On Saturday in Oklahoma City, Martin pinned Madill’s Zane Crisp to the mat in 20 seconds in the 220-pound finals and captured his third straight Class 4A state championship. Martin’s astounding efficiency under the Jim Norick Arena lights even stunned him.

“That was definitely one of the top five fastest pins I’ve had in my high school career,” Martin said. “The plan was to win, but I didn’t plan on it being that fast.”


But what more would you expect from a guy who has been the face — at times, the only face — of Oologah’s wrestling program for four years?

“It’s been pretty cool being the face of the program with a lot of pressure that comes with it,” said Martin, who finished his senior season 26-0. “I will miss wrestling a lot, and I’ll probably have to come back to Oologah to watch some wrestling while I’m in college.”

At Oklahoma State, Martin will join forces with Wagoner’s Malcolm Rodriguez, a rival of Martin’s during football season and a close confidant when it comes to wrestling.

“Me and Malcolm have been friends for years and never had problems with each other,” said Martin, who lost three straight 4A championship games to Rodriguez in football. “We have bonded more since his commitment.”

Their common bond has been wrestling dominance. Rodriguez became a two-time state champion Saturday when he pinned Weatherford’s Tanner Hawkins at 5:04 in the 195-pound 4A finals. Then moments later, Martin secured his crown on the same mat.

“It makes me happy to see my future teammate and I succeed,” Rodriguez said after this 30-0 senior season.

For both, the championships from the weekend bring their wrestling careers to a close — or at least it does for Rodriguez.

“It was a special moment and memory to end my wrestling career as a two-time state champion,” Rodriguez said. “I’m gonna miss wrestling a lot, but I want to put all my focus to football.”

Martin left the door open — ever so slightly.

“I would rather focus on football,” Martin said. “But if (Oklahoma State wrestling coach John) Smith needed a heavyweight to come wrestle, I would definitely think hard on it.”

Either way, both Rodriguez and Martin head to Stillwater leaving athletic legacies at their respective high schools.

“Saturday was very special to me,” Martin said, “because after Saturday’s win, I became the most decorated athlete in Oologah history.”

Yep, Martin is going to need his own trophy case at Oologah High School.


State wrestling tournament notes

– Tuttle, in a surprise to no one, blew out the rest of the Class 4A field and racked up 197.5 points en route to the Tigers’ ninth straight state championship. Seven Tuttle wrestlers — Cale Johnson (106), Luke Surber (113), Rhett Golowenski (120), Tanner Litterell (138), Brik Filippo (145), Carson Berryhill (160) and Tanner Johnson (170) — captured individual titles for Tuttle, and Litterell’s made him a four-time state champion.

Tuttle’s team total fell just short of 2016’s team record (200). The Tigers have risen the bar since eclipsing their former team record of 193 points in 2013.

“The seniors thought they had a shot at 200,” Tuttle coach Matt Surber said.


– Bishop Kelley’s Matt Smith, at 220 pounds, won a 7-3 decision over Piedmont’s Josh Heindselman and became a Class 5A champion on Saturday. Smith’s title was the first at Bishop Kelley since 1990. The Comets now have 33 state champions in school history.

Rice takes the reigns at Miami

Andrew Rice is a head coach for the first time. And he’s getting that shot at Miami.
Rice was named Miami’s new head coach at a special board meeting on Friday morning.
“Words can’t express how excited I am,” Rice said. “A lot of people have invested a lot of time in me as a coach and person so hopefully I can make them proud. I’m also just thankful that (Miami superintendent) Mr. (Jeremy) Hogan is taking a chance on me
Rice, 27, takes over after serving as Bartlesville’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons. In 2015, the Bruins put up 421 points in a 12-game season, a campaign that ended in the Class 6AII semifinals. That Bartlesville team had the offensive exploits of quarterback Colton Penrod (3,294 passing yards and 42 touchdowns), Jarron Hilger (1,028 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns), A.J. Archambo (1,031 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns and A.J. Parker (781 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns).
Without Penrod, Hilger and Parker in 2016, Archabmo starred again under Rice, and wide receivers coach Justin Gordon, with 66 catches for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Prior to coaching at Bartlesville, Rice was at Bixby for a season and then Sand Springs for two.
Now he’s ready to voyage into his own head-coaching tenure.
“It being the first head job will always be special,” Rice said. “When you add that to the type of place Miami is, it makes it such a great opportunity. It is like a sleeping giant with the kids there and support from the community. That part makes it so much better and exciting.”
Rice takes over for James Cheatham, who was 11-29 in four seasons at the helm for the Wardogs.
Last season, Miami went 1-9 overall and 1-6 in District 4A-3, which featured the 4A champion (Wagoner) and 4A runner-up (Oologah).
“Our expectations are going to be high,” Rice said. “We want to make sure that in everything we do we’re improving constantly. We’re going to make sure we roll up our sleeves and attack the weight room, and carry that over to playing fast and physical on the field.”
As for what he’s learned along the way to groom his for this position, Rice pointed to the mentorship he had under Bartlesville head coach John McKee.
“Coach McKee really did a great job giving me opportunities to do things that a head coach is required to do,” Rice said. “The things that worked at Bartlesville will be the same things I try to bring to Miami, and that’s building relationships and getting after it in the weight room.”

Taywone McNack and the resurgence of McLain wrestling

Taywone McNack is going to abstain from barbeque — but only until Sunday.

McNack, a McLain senior fresh off a regional championship, is headed back the Class 4A state wrestling tournament this weekend. Last year, McNack suffered a 3-2 decision loss to Harrah’s Braden Visnieski, and McNack then fell short of the consolation finals with a 18-6 major decision loss to Cleveland’s Tyler West.

So, how will McNack approach this year’s state tournament differently?

“It is funny that you asked,” he said, “but don’t eat a slab of ribs the day before the tournament, but instead come in on weight.”

The resistance will be tough, but it could pave the way to a better outcome this season for McNack, who is matched up against Cascia Hall’s D.J. Anderson in the opening round of the 120-pound weight class.


And when it comes to momentum, McNack has a boatload of it headed with him to Oklahoma City.

Last weekend, McNack scored a 10-6 victory over Cleveland’s Blake Hickerson to claim a regional championship. Not too shabby for a wrestler who only truly invested into the sport a few years ago.

“It is only my third year of wrestling,” said McNack, who is 34-6 this season. “And that is a big accomplishment.”

In fact, McNack’s regional supremacy is only the second time this season he’s won a tournament. He had posted third-place finishes at tournaments in Cushing, Catoosa and Bishop Kelley, while topping the field at the Skiatook field this year.

“I shot for first at every one, but things did not always go my way,” McNack said of previous outcomes this season. “It was special winning Skiatook, because that was my first tournament to be champion since I started wrestling my sophomore year. Adding on the regional title was very special to me, because I worked very hard and feel like I deserved it.”

McNack’s performance has also provided a spotlight to a program that had gone virtually noticed until McNack, Jelani Lewis (22) and Hollis Tuggle (in the heavyweight class) qualified for last year’s state tournament. But if you ask McLain coach J. Paul Ganzel, it’s all been part of the plan.

“When I was hired as head wrestling coach, our (athletic director’s) three-year goals were: qualify a wrestler to the state tournament and win a dual,” Ganzel recalled. “On year one, we only had four wrestlers in the room and won only one match in our single dual and the regional tournament.”

But then McLain made vast improvements — and in short order, too.

“Year two we inspired more interest in the sport from the students, meaning more numbers in the room, and we won four duals, as well as qualifying Jelani Lewis to the state tournament,” Ganzel said. “Last year, year three, we entered several dual tournaments with the goal of getting as much individual experience as possible, and this turned into 11 dual wins as well as qualifying three to state.”

The foundation has been cemented by McNack and Tuggle, and Ganzel said that’ll push other McLain wrestlers that much harder next year.


“I expect the success of the two will motivate the others in the room next year,” he said. “It will encourage them to jump on board with the hard work it takes to become a champion, and in turn we will within a few short years be in contention for both the state and dual state titles, respectfully.”

For Ganzel, though, the journey with McNack and Tuggle throughout their wrestling careers has trumped all else.

“Being a part of these two boy’s journey into manhood has been one of the most rewarding things in my life,” Ganzel said. “The adversity they have overcome and the positive character changes they have implemented would make a best-selling movie, if the whole story be told. Both Taywone and Hollis have a more than legitimate chance of becoming state champions, and I look forward to seeing how high they climb in the ladder of life after wrestling.”