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At the state’s oldest and perhaps toughest wresting tournament, a trio of Duncan wrestlers made sure everyone knew they are aiming for state titles.
Former state champion an defending state runner-up Markwae Sanders won the 113-pound weight class, Marcus Stewart finished second at 195, Christian Carnahan was third at 152 and the Demons took seventh as a team at the 69th Annual Geary Invitational Tournament over the weekend.
“It’s the toughest tournament we wrestle in in the state and we could have done a lot worse than seventh out of 23 teams,” said Duncan coach Kevin Kelly, who elected not to bring his freshman to the difficult tournament and forfeited several weight classes.
Sanders’ run to the title never seemed to be in question as he won each of his four matches by at least three points, scoring two major decisions.
“He’s super tough,” Kelly said of the senior. “It takes a heck of a wrestler to hang with him, let alone beat him.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Demons, though, came from Stewart. The quiet junior pulled out a pair of one-point wins (1-0 and 4-3) in the quarterfinals and semifinals before falling to Edmond North’s Joel Dixon in the championship.
“Marcus has been a real surprise this year,” Kelly said. “He’s only been wrestling for three years but he’s a real tough and hard-working kid and he’s gotten better every match.
“At a tournament like Geary, with a group that talented, to get into the final is a big deal. I think people took notice and were like, ‘Looks like Duncan’s got someone at 195.’”
Carnahan, meanwhile, came out strong, winning his first two matches on pin falls before losing to Broken Arrow’s Baden Bailey. Carnahan recovered, though, winning two more matches, including a pin to seal the third-place match.
“Christian is another one that has a chance to win every time that he steps on the mat because he’s just so physically talented,” Kelly said.
The Demons have been slowly nursing a large portion of their roster back to health throughout the first half of the season. Kelly hopes the squad will be back at full strength within the next two weeks.
“There will be some rust,” he said of those coming back from injuries. “It will take two, three, four weeks to get them back in the swing and get them in shape, but hopefully they will be ready for when it counts.”