Trio of Lakers medal and Beeson earns first state title

It has been a pretty solid year for the Camdenton Youth Wrestling Club.

About a total of 80 wrestlers ranging from four to 14 years old strapped on their headgear and stepped onto the mat to start the year, 19 grappled in districts, 12 advanced to regionals and five qualified for state. Among those qualifiers were three state medalists and one became a state champion.

Not a bad resume indeed.

“We finished the year with about 50 kids and you usually expect to lose half of them because it is a very long season,” Camdenton coach Eric Walters said. “But we had 48 first-time kids, not to mention 30-some returners so it means the sport is growing here in Camdenton. We lose kids to basketball and other sports every year and lose kids to the high school level, but we had quite a few returners and new kids so I’m just excited about wrestling here in Camdenton.

“We are really beating up on outstanding kids at our level and they are only going to do bigger and better things at the high school level,” he added.

The path to the state tournament is not an easy one. At any given age or weight class, there can be as few as 20 wrestlers in the state or as many as 300. Once you get to the tournament, you can take on as few as six of the best wrestlers Missouri has to offer or as many as 16.

Camdenton sent Zachary Parden, Nathaniel Beeson, Dakota Davis, Grant Garrett and Dakota Boller to take on the best wrestlers in the state of Missouri the weekend of March 25 at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis and the Lakers did not return home disappointed. Garrett finished sixth in the 14U 100-pound class, Davis finished third in the 12U 155-pound class and Beeson bested his 10U 170-pound weight class and captured the state title.

Beeson, a four-time state medalist, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and began wrestling five years ago at the age of five. It has been a pretty successful journey for Beeson, who has only missed qualifying for state once because the state tournament falls on his birthday every year and he decided it would be ok to enjoy a birthday party for a change.

He has won numerous tournaments over the course of his young career sporting a record of 104-16, and has even represented the state of Missouri wrestling for the Missouri Martians in Fort Wayne Ind., at a tournament featuring at least 20 states where he defeated a two-time New York state champion. No matter the size of the stage, Beeson said it all comes back to remembering what got you there.

“Sometimes it is really nerve-wracking, but you just have to remember everything you’ve learned over the past. You need to remember that stuff no matter how big the stadium or how many people,” the 10 year-old Camdenton grappler said. “Just try your hardest and have fun.

“I feel that if you lose then you are not really a loser because you tried your hardest. But if you give up, then you lost because you are not trying any more and it is over from then,” he added.

Another key to his success has been communication and Beeson emphasized how vital it was to listen to Walters, Assistant Coach Tim McNitt or his father whether it was time to practice in the wrestling room or go to battle on the mat. For Beeson, there is always something to learn in any given situation.

“Whenever you’re in a confrontation, sometimes you cannot hear stuff and he will constantly do something if I tell him to do it,” said Beeson’s father Zachariah who has been in his corner from the start. “He has that ability to be able to listen and still wrestle, not letting the nervousness get to him.”

Walters can certainly account for that character trait and noted that Beeson’s desire to improve and polish up the little things has allowed him to focus and find success, taking the steps to go from a state qualifier to a state champion. Beeson has also been attending Ju-Jitsu classes to improve his craft as well.

"He has put in the time and work and did what he needed to do,” Walters stated. “This year he had extreme focus and not that he has not had it in years past, but Nathaniel wrestlers heavier kids and has used speed and wrestled quick to beat their size. This year he wrestled smart and did not put himself in a bad situation. He stayed cool and calm and won a state championship because of it.

“That was the coolest part about this year. He did not just use brawn and strength, but he was smart and it really showed this year a whole lot more,” the coach added.

It has been fun for the coach to see his wrestlers grow overall and it is the character that the sport builds that may be what he appreciates the most.

“You are the only one on the mat so you cannot rely on anyone else,” the coach said of wrestling. “It is all on you and that is what makes wrestling such a great sport. You are the only one that can bail yourself out and it not only builds better athletes, but also builds character… We got very lucky with our wrestlers as they are all outstanding and nobody lucked into anything.”

Beeson and others are excited to continue representing the lake area and look forward to the day they put on the purple and gold and represent Camdenton at the high school level. One wrestler who will be doing so next year is Garrett who will join the high school ranks after winning seven district titles, three regional championships and becoming an 8-time All-State wrestler.

According to Walters, the wrestler may be one of the only wrestlers in the 12-year history of the club to qualify for state all eight possible times. The coach, for one, is certainly looking forward to what his future may hold and noted that he will be joining a strong high school program.

“Coach (Joe) Herman is doing some great things and had a good year,” Walters said of the high school program. “Injuries plagued the team, but he is doing great things and Camdenton will be a team to reckon with in Class 3. I’m looking forward to Garrett doing big things at the high school level. He has done great things in club wrestling ever since he was four years old.”

This season may be over, but it was one that will not easily be forgotten. If the growing number of participants and churning out state medalists is any indication, the future of the sport in Camdenton is certainly looking bright.