Laker boys sweep Smith-Cotton and West Plains while girls drop pair of duals

Camdenton junior Grant Garrett stepped onto the mat, walked to the center and had his hand raised by a referee for the 100th time time in his high school wrestling career. 

The milestone win in the team's season and home opener Thursday night against Sedalia Smith-Cotton and a brand new West Plains team may have been a little underwhelming considering his matchup in the 138-pound weight class went uncontested, but that was just fine with Garrett. 

The junior was recognized and had a big smile on his face as he was handed a plaque marking the occasion, but what he enjoyed even more was the fact that the Lakers sweeped the Tigers and Zizzers to start unbeaten in duals.

"It has been great," Garrett said looking back on all of those wins. "I love this team, everybody here and I'm more excited about the two dual wins to be honest because teamwork makes the dream work. Anything you can do to work as a team is what is going to get stuff done and I think we showed that in our warmups and when we wrestled. 

"It is great having 100 wins, but teamwork is more important."

Well, his teammates were certainly on the same page as the Lakers won convincingly Thursday night with a 67-9 win over Smith-Cotton and 75-6 win over West Plains. 

"We were completely excited about how the kids came out and wrestled hard," Camdenton coach Grant Leighty said.

"I feel like our kids went out and did what they were supposed to. They went out and wrestled hard, stayed in good position, looked for opportunities and took advantage of opportunities when they came about. That is all we want them to do so if we can keep doing that I think good things will happen."

The Laker girls were also on the mat Thursday night and came up short in a 24-21 loss to Smith-Cotton and a 48-18 defeat from West Plains. A season ago the team consisted of just Taylor Mustain and Belle Simpson and now they are glad to have a few more teammates around.

"It is really awesome. We have a lot more girls closer to our weight and practice is a lot easier," said Mustain who was a state qualifier a season ago with a record of 34-5. "It is really cool to have this many girls out here doing what is typically thought of as a boys' sport."

Speaking of the boys, the night began against a Zizzers program in its infancy and the Lakers did not make things easy in the first matchup between the Ozark Conference schools. 

Kaiden Stivers began the night with a pin in the 106-pound contest and he was joined by Logan Tibbens (113), Aiden Neal (126), Cale Bentley (132), Garrett (138), Jacob Ziegler (145), Ethan Reinhart (152), Kaiden Davis (195) and Dakota Davis (285) in the pin fall category. Among those nine matches, six of them were ended in the first round. 

Gunner Morris (170) won a 6-2 decision against the Zizzers and Cooper Rhodenhizer (120), Kaiden Jefferson (160) and Mason Draper (182) all went uncontested. West Plains' Logan Sitzes picked up the lone win of the night with a pin on Camdenton's Travis Ferguson at 220. 

"The Zizzers are a new program, but goo d athletes and tough kids. We had them in bad ways a lot of times and they fought good so I have to give kudos for that being so new," Leighty said of the dual. 

The momentum continued with Smith-Cotton as Stivers (106), Reinhart (152), Kaiden (195) and Dakota (285) all won by pin fall. Rhodenhizer (120) won an 18-2 technical fall, Neal (126) came away with an 8-0 major decision shutout and Morris scored plenty in a 23-12 major decision. Tibbens (113), Bentley (132), Garrett (138), Ziegler (145) and Ferguson (220) all won by forfeit and the only defeats were the result of a pin fall in Jefferson's battle at 160 and Draper's 7-1 decision at 182.

"We knew Smith-Cotton was going to be a little bit tougher and more experienced. We had to step it up a little bit and I really felt they did," Leighty said of his lineup. "One of the best matches was Aiden's. I thought he went out there, controlled the match and did a great job for a freshman staying in good position. Kaiden Stivers, oh my gosh, he put together six minutes and if he wrestles like that he'll win a lot of matches."

The coach had plenty of praise to go around including for Garrett after the junior picked up his marquee win. 

"100 wins is good for anybody. I don't care what anyone says, to do that at the beginning of your junior season is making a statement," the coach noted. "We are expecting him to have another stellar season, just like he has put in the last two, and that is why his record is where it is at."

Garrett wrestled plenty over the summer winning the Cadet Greco-Roman state tournament while placing second in freestyle. In doing so, he had the opportunity to represent Missouri at the national dual in Washington state. The junior also wrestled at the Freestyle/Greco-Roman USA Regional Tournament in Kansas and even had a chance to wrestle in the national championship in Fargo, N.D. 

"That has all made my wrestling brain bigger so I've been able to tell shots whenever they are there and not miss stuff like I usually do," Garrett noted. 

Another who has seen plenty of success is Mustain who picked up a quick pin against Smith-Cotton in 36 seconds and also took care of business with a pin against West Plains at 120 pounds. Safe to say, Mustain is excited for what the season has in store as she seeks to work her way towards the state podium. 

"I really wanted to inspire the new girls we have this year and get their mindset going to work really hard. You really do have to want it to get it in this sport," she said. 

"I've had a lot of support from my teammates and I'm really thankful for them that they've helped me get motivated."

Camdenton's Aeryn Kennedy also picked up a win against Smith-Cotton at 166 pounds with a 9-7 decision while Ashlynn Hughes (103) and Tea Delgado (130) went uncontested. Meanwhile, Bailey Matthews (115) and Aubri Willing (125) fell by pin against the Tigers. 

Mustain won the only contested match against West Plains as Hughes (103), and Kennedy (166) went uncontested. Matthews (115) and Willing (125) fell by pin while the Lakers gave up points in six weight classes.

Camdenton will be back on the mats on Saturday in a trip to Bolivar for the first tournament action of the season. 

"We are going to get tested this weekend, it is a much improved tournament," Leighty said. "Jeff Davis came in and took Bolivar to a runner-up finish in Class 2 last year and is bringing in a couple of teams like Kearney and Park Hill South to make that tougher. Teams like Marshfield and Osage have improved greatly so it is going to be tough. We are going to have to go down there and strap it on, plain and simple.

"Hope everyone comes down and supports us this weekend, we are going to need it."