Blankenship wins 6A state wrestling title
Cherokee Nation citizen Zach Blankenship stands on the victory podium for Bixby High School after winning Oklahoma’s Class 6A wrestling championship in the 120-pound weight class. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Zach Blankenship has his arm raised in victory after defeating Broken Arrow’s Jared Hill for the Class 6A wrestling championship in the 120-pound weight class. Blankenship attends Bixby High School. COURTESY
BIXBY – Wrestling in the state’s largest high school class, a wrestler will face some tough competition, but Cherokee Nation citizen Zach Blankenship managed to win the Class 6A state championship in February.
A Bixby High School freshman, Blankenship wrestled at 120 pounds in his first state championship tournament and won it on Feb. 23. He said he plans to continue training to win another state championship next season.
“Being a two-time state champ would be pretty awesome, but it would also be cool to qualify for dual state, like for our whole team. So that would be cool too,” he said. “Of course I wanted to win state. I wasn’t really expecting to. I didn’t even know where I was going to be at because I had never wrestled in high school.”
He said his opponent for the state championship, Jared Hill of Broken Arrow High School, had won second at regionals and “was really good,” but he did pin him.
Blankenship finished the 2018-19 season 42-1 and had 26 pins. A pin is a victory when a wrestler holds an opponent’s shoulders or scapulae (shoulder blades) on the wrestling mat for a prescribed period of time.
Blankenship’s only loss came when he bumped up to the next weight class to help his team in a dual or team match and suffered a loss to a larger opponent.
The 15-year-old won six tournaments and invitationals from Dec. 8 to Feb. 2 before winning the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association Class 6A East Regional meet on Feb. 16, which qualified him for the state tournament.
Blankenship said he has been wrestling since he was in kindergarten.
“They were handing out fliers for Bixby wrestling. I took one and asked my mom if I could wrestle,” he said.
He added that he didn’t know much about the sport before starting, but now he understands it as a “hardworking sport” that helps him get better and is good for him.
Wrestling season usually starts in late November or after football season is over, he said, and continues until March. Blankenship usually practices and trains Monday through Friday and attends wrestling tournaments on weekends.
“It can get tiring sometimes,” he said.
But all of his hard work is paying off, he said. In practice, he said he is working on his technique and doing what his coach instructs him to do rather than trying to get a pin or fall.
Blankenship’s mother, Povi, is of Cherokee, San Ildefonso Pueblo and Navajo heritage. Zach said he is aware and proud of his heritage.
“It’s pretty awesome to know that’s my heritage,” he said.