By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
Jacobe Smith and Dawaylon Barnes brush off any talk of pressure like a piece of lint on clothing.
The Muskogee High School junior duo doesn’t sense any of that going into this season, especially after earning All-American honors this past summer.
“For me, I’m coming back from being an underdog last year,” Smith said. “This year makes me want to fight that much more. I’m ready to bang with the fight. That means if I’m going to lose, I’m going fight really hard.”
Neither Rougher lost at the 17th Annual Charles Garrett Memorial Open at Muskogee gyms on Saturday.
Smith won three matches and took the finale in the 152-pound division by forfeit, while Barnes finished 4-0 for the day at 145 pounds that included a 7-2 victory against Tahlequah’s Heston Lammons in the finale.
Barnes said becoming an All-American has helped his mindset.
“My coach this summer told me not to just focus on winning, but taking one match, one period and one second at a time,” he said. “Whether there’s pressure on me or against me, I still have to go out there and wrestle. Being an All-American, I have higher standards and expectations for myself.”
The duo finished in the top eight of their weight divisions at the USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National Tournament in Fargo, N.D., in July to become All-American. They are the first Roughers to achieve the honor since Carlos Arriaga in 1993. It’s also the first time for Muskogee to have two in the same year.
Smith and Barnes were coached this summer by Kevin Crutchmer, the Tulsa Union head coach. He doesn’t see them wilting under the bright spotlight that comes from their achievements.
“They’re really mentally tough,” he said. “The thing I liked about them this summer together or individually is they didn’t have any quit. They just have the will to be the best.”
Crutchmer saw them wrestle eight matches each in Fargo. He’s also seen them against his Union wrestlers. He’s impressed.
“On the mat, the thing that makes them so good is their tenacity,” Crutchmer said. “They’re going 100 mph all of the time. They don’t take any breaks out there and constantly trying to score points That’s probably why they’ll be vying for state championships this season.”
Barnes, Smith and the rest of the Roughers open their season on Thursday, Nov. 29 at home against Broken Arrow.
Entering the season, Mukogee associate coach Dan Jefferson said Barnes will wrestle at 145 pounds and Smith at 152. He sees them both thriving under any kind of pressure.
On Saturday, the Garrett Open was held in darkness for an hour at Ron Milam Gymnasium and for two hours at the smaller gym because of a power failure. Jefferson said a squirrel had been trapped in a transformer that powered the gyms and OGE fixed the problem.
On the mat, Muskogee’s Nigel Harris (220) and J.T. Andrews (170) won their divisions, while Hulbert’s Bryan McGowan took first at 195 pounds.
Meanwhile, Muskogee’s Adonis Cole (220) and James Buckhanan (160) along with Tahlequah’s Paul Sargent (132) and Webbers Falls’ R.J. Wofford (285) finished second.