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Instant Impact: In first official season, Bixby girls wrestling team immediately becomes a title contender

Lady Spartans claimed regional title and will send seven wrestlers to 6A state tournament
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By Mike Moguin | Photo by Karen Schwartz 

BIXBY - After years of building, girls wrestling became a thing at Bixby when school administrators officially approved a program last year.

Now, the Lady Spartans are in contention for a state championship with seven qualifiers in the field at the Class 6A girls state wrestling tournament in Oklahoma City, which will take place alongside the boys tournament, as well as Classes 3A, 4A, and 5A on both sides, Friday and Saturday in Oklahoma City. 

Bixby has thrived through the mat campaign this year and is entering state with a team title at the 6A East Regional tournament early last week in Sallisaw.

Jadyn Roller (100 pounds), Brooke Pate (125) and Millie Azlin (155) took home first-place medals. Lily Lane (105) and Jay’la Ford (135) were runners-up, Navaeyah Fay (235) placed third, and Grace Thompson (170) took fifth.

The Lady Spartans were ranked No. 1 in the girls wrestling poll by the OSSAA at the end of the regular season and earned a No. 30 ranking by the national girls high school rankings late last month.

SBLive Sports National High School Wrestling Rankings (2/23/2023)

Paul Mayfield took over the program as coach after coaching in Stilwell for the past decade. He coached boys the previous six years, then coached both boys and girls for the last three. He also coached both junior high programs.

As a wrestler, Mayfield was a state medalist in his senior year at Ardmore in 2002.

What drew him to Bixby was that he saw a great opportunity here with the girls program and was impressed with the amount of time and effort they had put in to have success, from the athletic director to boys coach Ray Blake.

The program started out with three girls each for high school and junior high and now they have 20 on each side, Mayfield said.

Paul Mayfield is the Bixby girls wrestling coach in its first official year of operation. 

Paul Mayfield is the Bixby girls wrestling coach in its first official year of operation. 

“We’ve grown as a program,” he added. “We’ll be close to filling every weight (at state). It was 10 the first year, then 12 and now it’s 14 weights for the girls, just like it is for the boys.

“They (Bixby administration) put an emphasis on wrestling and made it a focal point. It was very enticing to know that you would have the support of the school from top to bottom, and so that was the driving force that made me come here.”

And the dedication his wrestlers had made it inspiring.

“As someone who has coached both boys and girls for several years, my biggest takeaway is how coachable the girls are,” Mayfield said. “That’s not to say the boys aren’t, but when you’re showing something to these girls, they really want to be good at it and their work ethic to get there has been astonishing to see. Some of these girls have been wrestling for a long time; they started off wrestling boys and now they’re just wrestling girls.

“But a lot of these girls are just first-year wrestlers. So it takes time to have that mindset of a wrestler, but these girls, in a few short months, have already started to change their mindset and have really done the little things that it takes to be a great wrestler.”

Check It Out: Second-year Bixby boys wrestling coach molds Spartans into one of the state's top programs

Thompson, a senior, and Roller, a sophomore, are the Lady Spartans’ most experienced in the program.

“Grace is an excellent young lady. She, along with Jadyn, are our two team captains voted on by the team,” Mayfield said. “Grace is really our vocal leader. She comes in every day and just busts her butt and leads by example. She also brings the team together and she is constantly asking me daily how the team is doing in practice.

"It is just really refreshing to have somebody that has had the success that she has had in the last three years. For her to be out there, the girls see that they know what it takes, she knows what it takes, so they follow her."

Likewise, Mayfield is pleased with the progress of Roller.

“Jadyn Roller, who is a returning state champ, is also a fantastic leader,” Mayfield said. “But hers is a little more, quiet. She is kind of that, ‘You can watch what I’m going to do because I’m going to go do all the little things right,’ from diet to training hard, to being at every practice, So, she is our quiet leader.

"She is a gritty, just tough, tough, girl. The other girls look to her when it gets tough in practice and it's fun to watch. Occasionally, Jadyn will speak up and say something to the group and it’s powerful when she does. She doesn’t scream and yell a lot, but when she does, everybody perks up and listens.”

Jadyn Roller holds up her bracket after winning her weight class at the 6A East Regional championship in Sallisaw. 

Jadyn Roller holds up her bracket after winning her weight class at the 6A East Regional championship in Sallisaw. 

The Bixby girls opened the dual season at home on Dec. 1 against Tulsa Union, the 2022 state champion in its inaugural season. The host lost, 39-30, but showed promise in giving the Lady Redhawks a strong challenge. 

Despite that setback, Mayfield expected his Lady Spartans to win a lot of duals and have success in tournaments and they did. That includes a 54-24 win on Jan. 26 against Broken Arrow, who quickly became a power since the program’s inception in 2019, with a handful of state champions and a team title in 2021.

Azlin, a freshman, is one to watch in the years to come.

“She is very good,” Mayfield said of Azlin. “We’re going to look for big things out of Millie.

"She’s young, and she’s got to work to do just like everybody else. We’re a young team, but we got the talent.”

There will be new challenges from a lot of tough girls from the west side of Oklahoma at the state tourney, the Bixby girls' coach said, and he likes his team’s chances.

But he added, “we have a lot of work to do."