Munford senior wrestlers Wemawamungu Moktani and Christian Perez Jr. made a bet with each other in advance of last weekend’s Class A state wrestling meet.
If one of them won a state title, he would do a backflip on the mat.
Seconds after Moktani, who goes by Mo, defeated Page junior Grant Hawkinson 12-4 in the 132-pound final, he made good on his bet by executing a back flip as his teammates and coaches cheered him on.
“I was just in the moment,” said Moktani, who entered the meet as the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 132. He beat the state’s second- and fourth-ranked wrestlers en route to the title. “I wanted to do something special.”
Back in 2005, Demetrius Johnson won his first of two straight wrestling state titles when Brighton and Munford were co-opting a wrestling program. Technically speaking, the title went to Munford, although Johnson was a Brighton High student.
Therefore, practically speaking, Moktani’s state title was Munford’s first in wrestling.
“No disrespect to Demetrius and Larrick (Johnson, the coach at the time), but I consider Mo the first state champ we’ve had,” said Munford wrestling coach David Cline.
While Moktani’s achievement got a lot of the attention, and rightfully so, his teammates achieved a first for their school as well. Munford sent eight wrestlers to the state meet and four medaled, which is a school record.
“In my mind,” said Cline, “they all achieved extraordinary accomplishments.”
Senior Jermyah Davis, wrestling at 182, went 2-1 in Franklin to finish fourth.
“Its’ truly a blessing,” Davis said about his team’s achievement. “We’ve been together since freshman year. We all went to state and placed our senior year. This is my crew. These are my brothers. We work out together. We do everything together.”
Senior Christian Perez Jr. went 3-1 to take fifth at 138.
“It was an amazing experience,” Perez said. “It was a surreal feeling, I ain’t going to lie.”
Justin Cavanaugh, a junior, won four his five matches to make the medal stand in sixth place.
“It means a lot to me that I could be part of this and progress Munford wrestling, as a whole, forward,” Cavanaugh said.
Each of the other four Munford wrestlers – Donnie Smith, Carter Sisco, Quenston Davis and Tyler Hanner – won matches at the meet as well.
The progression of the Munford High wrestling program has been dramatic. When Cline was hired to lead the program six years ago, it had been nearly 20 years since a Munford student had medaled.
Keegan Schulz broke that drought when he finished third three years ago. Moktani took fourth last year, setting the stage for this year’s major breakthrough. Two weeks ago Munford qualified for the state duals for the first time in 25 years.
All of the Munford wrestlers were done competing when Moktani hit the mat, so they got to watch history in the making.
“Everybody in the crowd was shouting, ‘We have our first state champ here,'” Davis said with a big smile. “Ain’t nobody better than Mo.”
After Moktani executed his backflip and shook Hawkinson’s hand, he began thanking his teammates, coaches and Schulz, who helped jumpstart the program and served as a volunteer coach this season.
“Mo looked at Keegan and said, ‘I couldn’t have done it without you,'” Cline said. “That really pulled at my heart strings. He didn’t walk off the mat with his nose in the air saying ‘I did this.’ The first thing he did was give credit to the guys who built him. I just about broke down in tears.”