By: Lani Hansen, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen Nathan Haner never thought he would be a state champion in wrestling.
Haner wrestles for the Okmulgee Wrestling Club and competed in the 2020 Oklahoma Kids Wrestling Association Novice State Championships on Jan. 25, which was held at the Tulsa Fairgrounds Expo Pavilion. The club took eight wrestlers bringing back two state champions and four others who placed.
“There was a couple of us who did not place but they did their best,” Haner said.
The twelve-year-old state champion attends Okmulgee Dunbar School where he is in the 6th grade. The tournament consisted of five divisions where Haner competed in Division V, going against two competitors to become the state champion.
“We put in about two hours of practice before we went to state,” Haner said. “That was the worst practice we did because the coaches pushed us hard and we had to get ready. So we just had to push through it and get ready for state. I feel like it helped me a lot.”
Haner who placed 8th in his first appearance at the wrestling state championships a few years back had taken two years off to focus on basketball. Coming from a two year break he had a different mindset when he showed up at state.
When Haner won the championship he was happy because it was on his aunt’s birthday.
“I went in there thinking, I’m going to win this for her,” Haner said. “The day before that was my dad’s birthday, so I told myself I am going to win this as a birthday present for both.”
Haner’s family were so proud of him for winning the wrestling state championships, they have been his support system through all his matches especially his grandma Inda McGirtt and his nana Tonya Young.
After his win grandma McGirtt told him, “The Lord gave you that talent to use and you use that for His Glory. He said ‘I know grandma, that is the way I thought about it, I knew I didn’t do it on my own.’ We are really proud of him.”
As a MCN citizen Haner is starting to see himself as a role model for all the MCN kids, even his younger brother. Haner and his family wanted to thank those in support and his coaches.
“I want to thank my uncle Brian McGirtt who help me get started in wrestling, my coaches, my former coach, my friend’s dad and my aunt,” Haner said. “There is one other guy named Brad Bell he won state too.”3n