Inspired by the words of his coach, Blade Walden is on a mission with only one acceptable finish. A broken arm sidelined the talented Fort Gibson wrestler a year ago during the Tulsa Nationals leaving the 2022 sophomore hungry to win gold at season’s end.
“I saw a chance to go be a state champion taken away from me. That has made me want to go win one even more,” replied Walden who enters February with a 39-1 record. “I’m constantly hearing coach (Sammy) Johnson’s advice: don’t take anything for granted. Wrestle every match to the best of my ability.”
Walden’s results are nearly flawless having recorded 21 falls and 11 tech-falls while claiming Most Outstanding Wrestler and Chuck West champion honors as well as championships in the 120-pound weight class of the Texas Outlaw Classic, Cushing Invitational, Maverick Conference and runner-up at the Paul Post Classic. His high-energy style also helped the Tigers win the Class 4A-8 district championship to advance of the OSSAA Dual State Championship Tournament.
“I like to score a lot of points. Most would say I am an offensive wrestler,” said Walden while describing his style on the mat and noting that his favorite wrestler is Oklahoma State University wrestler Daton Fix. “I think I am effective because I stay busy and transition from one move to another.”
Not only is Walden a winner on the wrestling mat, he also achieves top honors in the classroom posting a 4.25 GPA and ranks number one in his class. According to the quiet and reserved Walden, whose pre-game meal consists of eating M&Ms, there’s a mental strategy that works in his favor.
“I’m convinced that being an educated and smart person makes me a better wrestler.”
And coach Johnson agrees.
“Blade doesn’t say a whole lot. He lets his actions do all his talking,” said the Fort Gibson head coach. “He puts in the extra work, on and off the mat, to ensure his success. He puts two or three nights a week club wrestling with Three Style plus adds more time at his home. That’s in addition to our practices in the wrestling room. He’s willing to pay the price because he’s determined to be a state champion.”
The combination of his talents and work ethic is what defines the importance of character in the every day life of Blade Walden.
“Character is how someone carries themselves and what they represent. I like to think of myself as someone with high character, I try to be a leader and someone with good character traits.”
And based upon his results, there’s plenty of cause to expect to see Blade Walden stand atop the medal stand and finally capture his dream as a state champion.