Mar. 9—Gunnar Spence is trading his black and gold for blue and red.
The McAlester senior was honored during a signing ceremony at McAlester High School on Wednesday, committing to wrestle for Carl Albert State College next season.
"It's exciting," Spence said. "I've been doing it for the high school for so long, fell in love with it, and now I'm getting to do it for a few more years. It's a pretty good feeling."
Spence said his wrestling journey started around fourth grade, and he instantly fell in love with the sport. He said the part that most intrigues him is not so much the physical, but mental aspect going up against an opponent.
"Just the thought that goes into it, and putting that out into action when you go into a match," he said.
Spence recently wrapped up his high school career on the state's biggest stage at the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association State Wrestling Tournament in February.
He said getting to compete and test his mettle alongside the competition was a great experience to cap on his career as a Buff.
"It was pretty cool, because I had never qualified through the other three years," Spence said. "Getting to go to the state tournament for the first time, and I had a pretty solid performance. It felt really good to kind of redeem myself in that way for those non-qualifying years."
But now, he's going to be starting a new journey as a Viking next season. And he's excited to immediately get to work.
"I want to go in, and just be the best that I can be, and try and get to that national tournament," Spence said.
When he's not on the mat, Spence is also going to be hard at work in the classroom. He said he wants to study physical therapy so that he can work with athletes like himself long after he's retired from the sport.
"I want to try and come work for a school and be an athletic trainer," he said.
Looking back on his life and wrestling career, Spence said he's received a lot of encouragement and support from a special group of people for helping him get to this point.
"My mom and dad," he said without hesitation. "They're always in my ear, telling me I'm doing good or that I will do good. So I definitely appreciate them for that.
"And then definitely our coaching staff," he added. "They're all right there every match in your corner."
Although he'll be moving to a new city and school after graduation, Spence is grateful for all he's been able to experience and accomplish as a Buff. And he passed on a little advice for those that will be looking to achieve their dreams just as he has done.
"Don't worry about what the other guy is going to do," Spence said. "Because you'll never really figure that out. Just worry about what you can do and how to apply that."
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.