If there was anything Eldon wrestling coach Ryan Bird or his colleague Grant Leighty of Camdenton noticed about their grapplers Tuesday night, it may have been resiliency.
The Mustangs and Lakers were part of a quadrangular with Lebanon and Logan-Rogersville for Eldon’s home opener and although the sweep went to Lebanon who won their trio of duals, both coaches said there was plenty to like about the display shown on the mats.
Eldon fell to Logan-Rogersville 60-16, Lebanon 75-3 and Camdenton 56-18, but only had half of a full lineup with just seven wrestlers due to some injuries early in the year.
“We’ve got some fight in us. We went out at Fulton and did not wrestle very well so I challenged them to be tough guys and they have been since then,” Bird said in reference to the season opener.
“We have a bunch of guys that have been on varsity for a while, but they are just now starting to show some toughness. Those guys at the lower level- we’ve been looking for them for the past year to step up and they are finally doing it. They are getting some wins and it is making everybody else better.”
Meanwhile, Camdenton fell to rival Lebanon 52-18 to start the night and came back to beat Logan-Rogersville 39-36 before adding another win over its Highway 54 neighbor in the final dual.
“I thought we wrestled with a ton of heart there. We knew coming in that Lebanon probably had one of their best lineups they’ve ever had,” Leighty remarked. “They are tough and even though we lost we showed them that we are going to be someone they have to deal with… As far as Logan-Rogersville, I think they took second or third at the Union Tournament so for us to go out there and be able to come away with a win, I was extremely happy about that.
“I’m super proud of the boys and girls and how hard they wrestled.”
In Eldon’s first showdown of the evening, Killian Wilson got his team started with a 16-7 major decision in the 126-pound bout while Dawson Brandt (182) earned a pin and Scott Johnson (285) also won his match by fall. Things did not get much easier against Lebanon as Brandt was the lone Mustang to pick up a win with a 5-1 decision, but he was joined by a few more teammates in the finale with Camdenton. Aidan Gerber (120) picked up a pin against the Lakers while Hunter Waller (138) won a 9-2 decision, Brandt remained unbeaten with a pin and Johnson finished his night with a 7-3 decision.
“It felt great and this what we wrestle in practice for,” Brandt said of his success on the mat after missing the Versailles Tournament last weekend due to illness. “We beat on each other so every time we have an opportunity to beat on someone else, it is always a good time. Coming out on the winning end is always what you are looking for, but I’m going to give that to my training partners. I have the best training partners in the state, in my opinion, so I think that is why I’m having so much success.”
Bird said it was business as usual for a wrestler like Brandt.
“It was very workman like. He comes in, does his job and takes care of business so it is good to see,” the coach stated.
Up next for Eldon is the Spartan Duals in Moberly over the weekend and Brandt expects himself and his teammates to continue to fight.
“All of our kids put in the effort and none of them gave up. We are always fighting and trying to get better no matter what ends up on the scoreboard,” the senior said. “It is kind of a personal thing just trying to get better each and every match.
“Wrestling is a grind and it is not going to be easy so you just have to put in the work.”
Bird certainly agrees with that contention and his message has never changed.
“I think I say it every tie, but we have to get better at wrestling, get better at life and get better at everything,” the coach posited.
As for Camdenton, it was Jacob Fuglsang who claimed the first victory of the night as he earned a 12-1 major decision over his 113-pound foe from Lebanon. Grant Garrett (126) cruised to a 15-0 technical fall shutout, Dakota Davis (195) captured a 6-2 decision and Cort Petty (220) finished things up with a pin.
Fuglsang was victorious once again against Logan-Rogersville with a 9-2 decision and Garrett took a pin along with Ryan Rothove (132), Chris Morgan (152) and Kaiden Davis (170). Sam Gray (145) was uncontested and so was Dakota Davis (195).
Last but not least, Garrett remained undefeated on the night with a 16-1 technical fall against Eldon while Rothove won with a pin and Davis (220) won a 6-0 decision. Kaiden Stivers (106), Fuglsang, Gray, Morgan, Angelo Alfano (160), Davis (170) and Cody Pitts (195) all went uncontested.
“I thought our team was pretty good. I thought we wrestled everyone tough,” Garrett said of the evening. “We finished strong and this is a big part of it.”
It would certainly be hard to disagree as quite a few Camdenton matches went into the third period or went all six minutes. Leighty commended the efforts of wrestlers like Garrett and Rothove and also pointed to Stivers who may not have won his match with Logan-Rogersville, but put up a fight that allowed the team to stay ahead on the scoreboard.
“I’m super proud of my 106-pounder because we had a little talk before he went in there and he was the last match of the Logan-Rogersville dual. He went out there and gave us six minutes of fight and battled hard,” the coach said of Stivers. “We gave up three points, but it was a big reason we won the dual.”
As for Garrett, the young sophomore was glad to pick up three more wins but was quick to point out that his coaches and teammates play a large role.
“I attribute a lot of it to the seniors and coaches. They put us through a lot of conditioning and a lot of live wrestling so that really helps out,” he said. “I think it is mostly the leadership we have that is keeping us in good shape.”
Camdenton will now prepare for the Harrisonville Tournament this weekend and learn a little more about what the team is made of.
“It is going to kind of show us where we are at this point in the year and what we need to do to get where we want to go before the year is out,” Leighty pointed out. “We just have to get back at it, keep our nose to the grindstone and get after it.”