DeGrate Leads Team Fedora To Title

STILLWATER - With just a few days left of what has been a challenging and very successful off-season program for the Oklahoma State football squad under the supervision of strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass and his staff the Cowboys crowned champions in their final competition day. The team was split up in equal number teams of eight and coached by an OSU assistant coach.

The first two weeks were used to seed the teams and then the tournament began three weeks ago. Tuesday it was Team Fedora, coached by offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, that stood in front of the squad and received their gold medals following their 38-22 conquest of Team Meacham, coached by tight ends coach Doug Meacham, in the Fiesta Bowl. They will also be sized for to receive their prize for finishing first, a new pair of Nike cross trainers. Head coach Mike Gundy watched and assistant head coach Joe DeForest served as commisioner, while all of the other coaches supervised a team.

Tuesday's final matchups each had the name of a BCS bowl game with the Fiesta Bowl serving as the championship matchup. Team Meacham earned second place and each member gets a new pair of Nike shorts, while Team Bedford, guided by defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, earned Nike shirts for finishing third.

"This was great team building competition," Fedora said of the event.

It was certainly spirited as the players really got into the competition, pushing and encouraging their teammates in each event. The events included running drills, agility drills, a sled race with players pulling 250 pounds 50 yards, a 40-yard tractor tire flip race, tug-of-war, and figure-eight hoops race. In all there were eight events.

The Fiesta Bowl championship matchup between Team Fedora -- consisting of defensive end Victor DeGrate, linebacker Jeremy Nethon, wide receivers Chijuan Mack and Zac Ross, cornerback Calvin Mickens, safety Andre Sexton, defensive tackle Jeray Chatham, quarterback Al Pena, offensive lineman Andrew Lawerence, and deep snapper Kyle Mariacher -- and Team Meacham -- consisting of running back Michael Hamilton, defensive end Nathan Peterson, linebackers Marcus Brown and Durfey Thompson, offensive tackle Corey Hilliard, wide receivers Ricky Price and Tommy Devereaux, defensive tackle Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, cornerback Cortney Billingsley, and deep snapper Zach Allen -- started on the line drill.

The players runs lines, touching the line with their feet and then going back to the goal line, back and fourth to until they reach the 20-yard line. The first drill produced some close races including one-stride wins by Victor DeGrate over Michael Hamilton and Jeremy Nethon over Nathan Peterson. The two wins by Team Fedora helped pace the eventual champions to an early 6-2 lead. The two teams split the first of two agility drills using bags before Team Fedora took a 16-9 lead after the next bag drill.

The next event was the sled race which had each player pulling a sled loaded with 250 pounds of weights for 50 yards. Corey Hilliard scored a win for Team Meacham in defeating freshman Andrew Lawerence as Hilliard completed the 50 yards in an impressive 12.4 seconds. That was topped a few heats later when DeGrate clocked an amazing 11.8 seconds. DeGrate would be victorious in seven of the eight events.

""My team had faith in me to go up against anybody," said DeGrate, who is obviously in the best shape of his career at Oklahoma State. "I had faith in myself and my team had faith in me."

As for the off-season program, DeGrate raves about what it has done for him and the entire OSU team.

"I'm 10 times better than I was before the start of the offseason program," added the senior to be defensive end out of DeSoto, Texas. "We have all been training hard with Coach (Rob) Glass. I pushed myself to the max because I know I am not in competition with anybody here but with the entire Big 12. The competition days have been great because this is hard work we are doing out here, but with the competition it puts our minds on being worried about winning."

That's exactly what DeGrate and his teammates were doing, winning. They left the sled race with a 22-11 advantage. The tractor tire flip was a draw at four points each. Walk-on linebacker Durfey Thompson from Edmond (Santa Fe), Okla., posted an impressive time completing the 40 yards in 26.2 seconds in posting a win for Team Meacham. The two teams also split the pro-shuttle drill before Team Fedora won two of the three tug-of-war battles to clinch the win. The outcome was decided before the teams went on to the hoops to finish.

"It's all about great players," Fedora said of the winning effort. "I had the best players and they did it the right way. There was only one team we had trouble with (over the last five weeks) and that was because we weren't focused. When we were focused we won."

The competition even carried over into the training table meal at night as the last-place team had to eat hot dogs instead of the regular entree choices during Tuesday's dinner.

The Cowboys still have the rest of the week to finish out the off-season program before spring football starts Monday, March 20, with the first of 15 allotted practices for spring drills.

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