Jacket junior is regional runner-up; Hennessey’s Hix qualifies at heavyweight
Make it three trips to state in as many tries for Gant Browning.
Kingfisher High School’s junior was the 126-pound runner-up at last weekend’s Class 3A west regional held at Perry.
Browning’s finish earned him a spot in this weekend’s state tournament at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
Browning also qualified for state as a freshman in 2021 at 106 pounds and last year at 113 pounds.
In each of his previous two years, Browning finished fourth at the regional and had to take part in wrestle-in matches (he won it in 2021).
That won’t be the case this year.
Browning is a part of the main 126-pound bracket and will take on Marlow’s Brayden Bowman in the quarterfinals.
Bowman (34-10) was third in the east regional.
A win puts Browning into the semifinals, potentially against Berryhill’s Hunter Waits (33-3), who won the east regional.
A loss would mean third is the best Browning can place. For the second straight year, Browning is Kingfisher’s lone entrant at state.
Part of that is due to a Hennessey Eagle.
HHS freshman Titan Hix pinned the Yellowjackets’ Braxton Shellstrom at 5:36 in their fifth-place match at heavyweight.
That win earned Hix a spot in the 285-pound bracket at state.
Hix will take on Berryhill’s Eli Burke in a wrestle- in match.
Burke was fourth in the east regional.
The winner of that match will take on Justus Gilliam of Sulphur.
Gilliam was the champion of the west regional.
Both Shellstrom and Hix reached the quarterfinals.
There, Hix was pinned at 3:13 by Little Axe’s Chad Kriz.
Hix came back to win his next two matches before losing to J.D. McCleary in the consolation semifinals, sending him to the match with Shellstrom.
The Kingfisher senior narrowly lost to McCleary in his quarterfinal bout.
He bounced back with two falls to land a spot in the consolation semifinals.
There, he was pinned by Kriz at 2:19.
Shellstrom was looking for his second state berth as he also qualified as a sophomore.
He and Browning were two of four Jackets to reach the quarterfinals.
Brayden Kochenower (132 pounds) and Mason Alig (165) matched the feat, but dropped their next two matches to be eliminated.
Sophomore Robert Barnett joined Shellstrom in narrowly missing out on state.
After losing his second- round match at 190 pounds, Barnett won four consecutive elimination matches to earn a spot in the consolation semifinals.
He was defeated there by Davis’ Rance Digby and then lost his fifth-place match in a 9-6 decision to Lane Gourley of Little Axe.
Browning had two falls and one technical fall in his first three matches to land in the semifinals.
He locked up his spot at state by defeating Vian’s Gunner Richey 9-6 in the semifinals.
Kaiden Ailey of Blackwell bested Browning 14-4 in the championship.
Browning takes a 29-11 record into state.
KHS finished 10th at the regional, which had 30 teams represented.
The Jackets had 89 points.
Blackwell won the regional crown with 324.5. The Maroons were coming off a dual state championship the week before.
Hennessey was 20th with 24 points while Cashion scored 12 points in the regional.