2006 AAU Grand Nationals

On Wednesday, June 28, Program Director/Coach Brian Orndorff, along with Coach Chris Shea, had the privilege of taking ten Bluejay Pride wrestlers to Omaha, Nebraska to compete in the 2006 AAU Grand National Championships. Along with 12 other wrestlers from around the state, the wrestlers weighed in Wednesday night in hopes of becoming the National Champion in each of the 3 disciplines of wrestling.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma wrestlers shined, showing their superior balance and strength, and the Greco-Roman competition ended with all Oklahoma wrestlers placing in the top 8 and the Bluejay Pride wrestlers placing as follows:

Jaxson Roney (Bantam 45), 2nd; Shortie Stewart (Bantam 55), 4th; Madison Roney (Midget 55), 4th; Braden Crawford (Midget 80), 4th; Christian Roney (Novice 80), 6th; Sean Woodard (Schoolboy 140), 7th; Cole Orndorff (Cadet 130), 3rd; John Kane (Cadet 189), 1st; Chris Shea (Elite 171), 2nd; and Brian Orndorff (Masters 165), 1st.

"Bluejay Pride is known for its focus on Greco-Roman, and for implementing it into Freestyle and Collegiate, so I expected results in Greco, and the wrestlers knew it. Despite injuries to one knee of Chris Shea, one knee of Cole Orndorff, and to my own shoulder, we dominated the mat all of the first day, which actually put us in the running for a state team trophy," stated Brian Orndorff, who is also the State Director for AAU Wrestling. "I don't know if the other states were impressed, or if they were disgusted, since we were the second smallest state team entry at the competition. Hawaii was the smallest."

On Friday, the Oklahoma wrestlers again performed at a level that Orndorff describes as "well beyond what they have shown us at practice and other competitions this year", and the Freestyle competition finished with all but 2 Oklahoma wrestlers placing in the top 8, and the Bluejay Pride wrestlers placing as follows:

J. Roney, 5th; S. Stewart, 6th; M. Roney, 3rd; B. Crawford, 4th; C. Roney, 6th; S. Woodard, 6th; C. Orndorff, 5th; J. Kane, 3rd; C. Shea, 4th; and B. Orndorff, 2nd.

Brian Orndorff stated, "I was amazed with the level of performance these wrestlers displayed on Friday. With the injuries to wrestlers from the previous day, and the additional injury to the shoulder of Sean Woodard, I thought our team score was doomed, but we held on and kept ourselves in the top 3. The injured wrestlers really dug deep within themselves to continue. Unfortunately, I was sure that 4 injured wrestlers in collegiate would seal our fate."

On Saturday, as Orndorff had predicted, the Folkstyle competition ended with less success. It was, however, not as bad as he expected. All Oklahoma wrestlers but 3 placed in Folkstyle, and the Bluejay Pride wrestlers placed as follows:

J. Roney, 5th; S. Stewart, 8th; M. Roney, 7th; B. Crawford, 5th; C. Roney, 6th; S. Woodard 8th; C. Orndorff, 4th; J. Kane, 3rd; C. Shea, NP; B. Orndorff, 4th.

Orndorff commented, "Even with the injuries forcing myself, Shea, Cole Orndorff, and Woodard into injury default before completing the competition, everyone still stepped up and fought through the pain to get our team points up. We ended up placing 3rd as a state team with 22 wrestlers. That is amazing, considering the teams that beat us had over 150 wrestlers, and the team right behind us had just under 150 wrestlers. It is also wonderful that these wrestlers are excelling in the 2 Olympic styles. As long as they continue to improve there, they will naturally improve in Collegiate. These wrestlers will provide strong teams for our Schools, and as a result we will likely start to see some High School State Collegiate placers in the future."

In addition, the team was invited to attend a tour to wrestle in several states next summer, with the first competition being held in Hawaii. "Everyone was so impressed with the performance of these wrestlers," stated Orndorff. "We were offered the trip with assistance for lodging and some transportation. The biggest fee for us will be the plane tickets to Hawaii, and then back to Montana. We will be pressing hard to raise money this entire year, and ask that anyone that can help contact me at 405-503-1626." In addition to placing donors on the website and team banner, donors of $500 or more will also be placed on the team uniforms.

The team has also received some assistance via contacts made at the tournament. "We were very fortunate to make an alliance with a representative from Brute/Adidas, and as a result we will have new team singlets available for both Bluejay Pride and Team Oklahoma," stated Orndorff. "This is a great asset, as the wrestlers who compete with Team Oklahoma need several red and several blue singlets to compete for a few consecutive days."

"Bluejay Pride would like to thank each and every business and citizen of Guthrie for generously giving to these young athletes this summer," said Orndorff. Enough money was raised this year to cover the entire cost of the Nebraska trip for all Bluejay Pride wrestlers, and to assist with the costs for the other state team coaches and wrestlers. Orndorff added, "I also want to send special thanks to Vision Source, Granny Had One, Shear Sensations, Acton's Furniture, Sonic Drive-in and Livestock Nutrition Center for the continued large amounts of financial support, and to the Guthrie News Leader for continuing to publicize the needs and the accomplishments of these young athletes and our program."