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|Oklahoma City women’s team aims to finish season with third WCWA national title|
By Jessica Cullen USA Wrestling
Two-time World champion Kristie Davis of the OCU Stars tosses an opponent in a match earlier this season. Photo courtesy of OCU
Strategic moves by Oklahoma City University coach Archie Randall led the Stars to their third straight NWCA National Duals Championship title in Cedar Falls, Iowa last week. In the finals, they faced a tough Simon Fraser team, a threat to their next goal: winning a third straight WCWA Women’s College National Championship title.
To beat their tough competition, Randall worked his magic and banked on his team’s talent to take home the National Duals title.
“I could have lost two (matches), but I caught him (Simon Fraser coach Mike Jones). That’s what’s exciting about duals. The girls were pretty confident going in. You do it by numbers. We went in there 6-4 and with adjustments we could go 7-3. You try to put yourself at an advantage,” Randall said.
They did in fact go 7-3 against Simon Fraser, winning 25-13. OCU was trailing after the sixth match, but then pulled away after winning the last four matches, with victories by Amberle Montgomery (67 kg), Kristie Davis (72 kg), Melissa Simmons (80 kg) and Brittany Delgado (90 kg).
Despite the Stars winning national titles in the past, being the nation’s top team doesn’t get old for the coach.
“Any time you get a chance to win a national championship it’s pretty exciting,” he said.
The excitement doesn’t deter Randall from a tried and tested way of training.
“We train all year round. We try to get as many girls to events as I can. We just do what we normally do. The girls are talented,” he said.
To help the women keep improving, Randall makes sure that they take something out of each match.
“Every time you wrestle a different opponent, you try to take away something from it. The sad part about wrestling is that you learn when you lose,” Randall said.
While losing hasn’t been in OCU’s repertoire since 2008, the team uses video to prepare for matches and learn their opponent before they meet on the mat.
This type of preparation is what Randall is using before the Stars head to the WCWA National Championship which is held Jan. 29 at Menlo College in Atherton, Calif. While it’s helpful to get a feel of what a potential opponent will be like, in the end, it’s up to each wrestler to figure it out during the match.
“When we wrestle at nationals, it’s about advancing to the next round,” Randall said.
While they may not be able to prepare well for nationals using video, the team itself won’t be the focus of the meet.
“Teams don’t go after other teams, it’s everyone for themselves,” he said.
Not to say that the Stars don’t feel the pressure. With a No. 1 team, there’s a natural target on their backs leading into the meet.
“We’re probably the most hated team in America. If you win one title, you’re pat on the back. If you win two titles, people accuse you of cheating. If you win three, you’re hated by everyone,“ Randall said.
OCU has three defending national champions in Amberle Montgomery at 67 kg/147.5 lbs, Brittany Delgado at 95 kg/209 lbs and Michaela Hutchison at 55 kg/ 121 lbs. Hutchison is attempting to win her third national champion title.
The team also includes two-time World champion Kristie Davis who will be favored to win at whatever weight she enters at the WCWA Nationals.
Randall has experience with successful teams. As a high school coach, Randall said his team won 21 Oklahoma State championships. The pressure he feels is familiar when he coaches his women’s college team.
“The girls feel the pressure; they expect to win. There are six seniors, and they’re not going to let (anyone) take the paddle from them. They’re not going to be the ones to lose,” he said.