Mustangs try to make most of depleted roster

Eldon coach Ryan Bird was not necessarily focused on the scoreboard Wednesday night when the Mustangs hosted Battle (Columbia) and Jefferson City Wednesday night.

With five open weight classes in the current lineup due to injuries and some grapplers filling in for injured varsity starters, he knew his team’s odds of winning a dual were slim. But one thing he certainly expected to see from his club was some toughness and to make the most of the matches they could wrestle.

Eldon fell to the Battle Spartans 37-27 and were defeated 65-9 by Jefferson City, but Bird saw some of those things he was looking for.

“In a dual, if you get 42 points you win. When you are giving up 30 or 36 it is pretty impossible to win a dual, but we talk about the small victories,” Bird said. “Finding a way to get the win, finding a way to get someone on their back and win more matches than the other team. With the situation we are in right now, that is what we shoot for. We want to win the most matches that night.

“We did not accomplish that goal tonight, but we are getting there. Guys showed a lot more toughness tonight than they have in the past week or so, so I was impressed with that,” he added.

Bird said he intentionally put bigger schools like Battle and Jefferson City on the schedule in order to get his guys where they need to be and some Mustangs had no trouble taking care of business on the mat Wednesday night.

In the first bout of the night against Battle, Isaiah Simmons earned a hard-fought 16-10 decision in the 126-pound weight class while Brent Mullet (152) won an 8-4 decision, Dawson Brandt (182) picked up a pin and Scott Johnson (285) outlasted his opponent in a 6-4 tiebreaker. Aiden Gerber (120) and Hunter Waller (145) also picked up victories via forfeit.

Simmons (126) remained unbeaten with a pin against Jefferson City and Brandt (182) did the same, winning a 15-4 major decision.

“Some of our guys are still young and we are not doing the small things right, but that comes with time and experience,” Bird noted. “I am impressed with Dawson. He had a rough weekend losing to a defending state champ and losing a match he probably should not have lost, but he came back last night with a big win and two more tonight.

“He is really showing he is a better wrestler than what he proved over the weekend. We are getting to that time where we are going to have to peak in three or four weeks and he is getting there. It is fun to watch.”

It was also a special night for another Mustang grappler as state medalist and runner-up state champion Trenton Dillon was honored for Senior Night. Dillon was one of the Mustangs unable to wrestle due to injury, but Bird said he expects the wrestler to be back in time for the district tournament and ready to make another run at state.

“He is the standard,” Bird said of his lone senior. “He holds every record that we have. He was our first state medalist, he is going to have the most wins in a season, most wins in a career, most takedowns and probably the most pins. We give out an award at the end of the year called the “Gold Standard” and he clearly was that last year.

“He has set the bar pretty high for kids to live up to and it is kind of cool when you have a kid that is that good, that special and does stuff like that.”

Going forward, Bird said the message to his team was simply to get better.

“Get better every day. Find something to get better at and if it is not on the wrestling mat, find something in life or school, but let’s get better,” he stated.

Eldon is scheduled to be back on the mats Tuesday night when the Mustangs host rival Osage and Blair Oaks in a Tri-County Conference clash at 5:30 p.m.