In a city called Winfield, located south of Wichita, Kansas, lives a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member by the name of Vance Oliver. Oliver is a senior at Winfield High School and a top wrestler there. Oliver participated in the Kansas Class 5A State Wrestling Championships on February 27 at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, in the 140-pound division.
Oliver’s parents are Community member Robert Oliver (his dad is the grandson of Community member and elder Mildred Hill) and Shawna Sterling. “We are very proud of his accomplishments,” Robert Oliver said. He went on to explain that his son is a perfectionist and once he sets his mind to something, he works hard and he most likely gets the job done.
“I always tell him when he is competing out there that not only is he representing himself, but his family and the Community of Salt River,” Robert Oliver said.
This is the second year that Oliver has made it to the Kansas 5A championships.
“Last year he was in the 135-pound finals and this year he was in the 140-pound finals,” said Andrew Bren, head wrestling coach at Winfield High.
In the 140-pound finals in the state championships, Oliver went up against a top-seed rival, Spencer Blew of Lansing High School. Oliver put up a show, but at the 2:16 mark he was pinned, leaving him to finish second. This was his final appearance in the state championships, but he will continue to participate in other wrestling matches before the school year is over and he graduates.
Oliver’s record for the year is 30-5, and his varsity record is 102-37. “He was one of the best to come to the school and is a great kid,” said Coach Bren. “He has a very good work ethic and is very good about setting goals and making strides to reach them.” Right now Oliver has a grade point average above 3.0 that he has to maintain, said Bren.
Bren said that Oliver also has two regional championships. Oliver’s parents are also very supportive of their son.
On March 10 at the Kansas City Community College Athletic Coliseum, Oliver participated in the invitation-only 18th Annual Kansas/Missouri Dual Metro Classic, where he and other wrestlers from southeast Kansas took on wrestlers from southwest Missouri.
Later this month he will compete in the Senior National High School Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the top wrestlers in the nation, said Coach Bren. “He has a lot going for him in the upcoming weeks. He does not like to lose, and like his parents said he is a perfectionist—when you add those two traits together, you have a mighty wrestler. It has been very exciting coaching the kid, and I know he will do well wherever he may go.”
Oliver likes the attention that comes with participating in sports, according to his father. It began when he played football as a running back and cornerback; since wrestling is popular in Winfield, Oliver began that sport and it soon became his favorite.
Oliver is looking forward to wrestling in college. He and his family are in the process of finding a college with a good wrestling program.