Braswell achieves elite status with All-State wrestling nod

Apr. 16—As Cameron Braswell reflects on his illustrious wrestling career, he is filled with gratitude for the experiences that shaped him into an elite athlete.

Braswell, a standout senior from Claremore, recently clinched a spot on the prestigious Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State wrestling team, affirming his status as one of the state's top grapplers. This accolade follows a senior year where he boasted a record of 38-5 and clinched third place in the 215-lb division at the Class 5A State Championships.

Braswell attributes his standout season to consistent hard work and the backing of his team. His progress is notable, with his win tally jumping from about 20 in his early years of high school to over 30 in both his junior and senior years.

"I had a different mentality every season," Braswell said, emphasizing the growth mindset that propelled him to success. "It was just a lot of preparation and practice — every day you gotta get better. My coaches and my teammates really helped me do that. It was a great season and something I'll never forget. As the season went on, I was preparing physically and mentally, just getting better for my teammates and my coaches.

"Chad Willard, my head coach, told me in class actually, so I was really, really excited," he added. "I felt that I deserved it. I think everybody around me like my friends, my family and coaches, they all thought I deserved it. It was just really exciting. Just seeing the hard work pay off just really means a lot."

The recognition of being named to the All-State team was met with excitement by Braswell, who saw it as a culmination of his hard work and support from those around him. His transition from promising novice to a state-recognized powerhouse was fueled by countless hours of practice and a resolve to outmatch his opponents.

Although he competed in the 215-lb division during the season, showcasing his versatility and tactical advantage in speed and technique over heavier opponents, Braswell will represent the Large East team in the 190-lb division at the All-State Games, which are set for Wednesday, July 24.

"I would weigh in 190 so I could have the ability to wrestle 190 or 215 if my coach decided to put me at that weight," Braswell said. "Being able to move faster and having the ability to do anything faster (was an advantage). The guys were bigger than me, but my technique would be a lot better. I would just be a lot faster, no matter what the technique was. The only disadvantage was the weight, but it wasn't really a problem for me. I didn't think it was a problem for me as the season was going on."

Looking ahead, Braswell is contemplating his college career.

He has a particular interest in joining the wrestling program at the University of Central Oklahoma, which has won consecutive NCAA Division II national championships and is led by renowned coach and Claremore native Todd Steidley.

The prospect of being coached by Steidley is appealing for Braswell, especially given Steidley's emphasis on recruiting in-state talent and his close ties with Claremore's coaching staff.

Of the 42 wrestlers on the UCO roster for the 2023-24 season, 36 were from Oklahoma. That includes two former Rogers County standouts — Guy Clevenger of Catoosa and Jose Flores of Inola.

"It's really important because I think that (Steidley) has connections, and he's really close with all of my coaches here at Claremore," Braswell said. "He is actually the one who hired all of them, so I think it's better to have a connection. I think that my coaches really want to tell him the truth about me and give him an idea of the potential I have.

"There's a lot of Oklahoma guys on that team at UCO," he added. "There's not a lot of out-of-state guys there. He mainly recruits guys from Oklahoma."

Those qualities have made UCO a frontrunner in Braswell's selection process, though he remains contemplative about his options, which include wrestling or playing football at other institutions. He was a key player in Claremore football's historic run to the state semifinals in 2023, collecting 32 tackles and six sacks.

Yet, wrestling seems to be where his heart lies, thanks in part to the mentorship and inspiration he has received from past Claremore wrestlers.

"Ever since the season started during football, I knew that I would have to make a tough decision when wrestling season ended," Braswell said. "It's been pretty tough, but I think my parents have really helped me with the decision. Also my coaches have helped me a lot. It's been pretty tough, but I think I know where I'm meant to be. I'm trying to do what's best for me. I had three schools in mind, and Northeastern State University (NSU) was one of the top three to go play football. I have the chance to wrestle and play football at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO). UCO is not finalized — NSU and NEO are still in the running — but UCO is the frontrunner right now."

Kaden Stanley and Seth Seago were mentors who played crucial roles in Braswell's early development, providing guidance, support and valuable knowledge about the sport.

During his freshman year, Braswell witnessed Stanley achieve the highly coveted All-State honor. This feat left a lasting impression on him, igniting a sense of admiration and respect towards Stanley.

Recognizing Braswell's potential, Stanley took it upon himself to mentor the freshman, pushing him to his limits during practice sessions.

"He just made me better in practice every day," Braswell said of Stanley, who now wrestles for the University of Central Missouri. "He was someone I looked up to very, very much."

He also found inspiration in another proven wrestler, Seago.

As an eighth grader, Braswell looked up to Seago, who was a senior at the time. Seago's passion for the sport and his skills left a memorable mark on the aspiring wrestler.

Despite his busy schedule as a wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, Seago has made it a point to return to his hometown periodically to practice with Braswell and other Zebras. These intense training sessions played a significant role in Braswell's growth as a wrestler in recent years.

"I looked up to him a lot," Braswell said. "He'll come back every now and then to practice a little bit and be hard on me and get me prepared for the next coming event and make me better every day."

As Braswell embarks on new endeavors, he carries with him the lessons learned from his mentors.

The values instilled by Stanley and Seago will continue to shape his future, both on and off the wrestling mat. Their belief in his abilities has not only transformed his wrestling career but also laid the foundation for a lifetime of success.

"It makes me feel good that I've been able to compete with all these other guys who have gotten All-State," Braswell said. "It makes me feel good that I can be on the level that they were on, so it's just a lot for me to process, but it's very, very exciting."