BIXBY – When he was in kindergarten, Bixby High School senior Zach Blankenship brought home a flyer for Bixby youth wrestling and asked his mother Povi if she could take him to wrestling practice.
“I said, ‘no way, we are not wrestlers.’ The rest is history. From the moment he stepped foot on the mat he just got it. Zach sets a goal every year and works tirelessly to achieve it,” she said. “He not only works hard on the mat but also has excelled in school and other sports. So, I’m excited for the next chapter for him.”
That next chapter includes being signed to wrestle for the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater.
The 18-year-old class president and homecoming football king, said during his sophomore year he said he was eligible to be recruited and OSU was the first to contact him.
“I’ve been a fan of OSU ever since I was little. My dad works for them, and my sister goes there. A lot of my friends are going there, so I was kind of knew it was going to be a good fit for me,” he said. “I’m thankful for all I’ve gotten, and I’m thankful for all of my family, friends and coaches.”
OSU’s associate head wrestling coach, Zac Esposito, said OSU coaches have known Zach since he was a young man because he regularly attended wrestling camps and clinics.
“He was really successful at a younger age, and as he got older he transformed into a two-sport athlete where he played football for a really competitive team at Bixby and was wrestling,” he said. “With us, a big part of our recruiting is our in-state guys, and we see Zach as one of the better in-state guys coming out as a senior this year. We really believe he’s going to have big upside to his career.”
Blankenship, who is Cherokee and Navajo, won a state wrestling championship his freshman year. During his sophomore year he was injured and didn’t get to compete, and then last year he won state again as a junior and received the “Outstanding Wrestler” award at the state tournament.
He said at OSU he hopes to start and is willing to wrestle at whatever weight needed, whether that is 125 or 133.
“I’ve never wrestled full time. I used to split my time with football because with our program we had to do summer workouts, so I’m excited to see how it goes when I’m a full-time wrestler. My expectations are that I hope I can do it and become a national champion,” he said.
Esposito said Blankenship brings a lot of energy to the wrestling mat and has a good attitude.
“He’s a wrestler that goes out there and creates a lot of action. He’s looking to score and wrestle in all positions, so as a coach when you look at him you appreciate how he’s going to go out there and compete. He’s fun to watch.”
Also, Esposito explained academics played “a huge part” in Blankenship’s recruitment.
“He’s a great student with great grades and great test scores. He has a really bright future, and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”