Lake area wrestlers capture district titles, advance to sectionals
Versailles wins second straight team title
Versailles wrestled on its own mats on Saturday and did not disappoint as the team captured a second straight district title in the Class 1 District 3 Tournament.
“We are excited to win that team title and qualify 12 for sectionals,” said Versailles coach Shawn Brantley after his team secured a share of the Tri-County Conference title with Osage and Blair Oaks earlier this season. “We really didn’t wrestle all that well so knowing we still have room to improve going forward is exciting.”
Due to the challenges of COVID-19, the postseason format changed this year with the addition of a sectional tournament instead of the top four wrestlers in each weight class at districts simply qualifying for state. As a result, the top four wrestlers in each weight class at districts advance to sectionals and the top three from sectionals will form 12-man brackets for the state tournament.
Versailles’ lineup of 13 wrestlers secured 206 points for the championship on Saturday, besting the seven other schools by no less than 67 points, and the Tigers finished the day with five district champions.
Each wrestler began the day in the quarterfinals and Kannen Wilson (31-7) captured a title at 113 pounds after starting with two byes and securing a pin fall victory in the title match. Alex Radefeld (32-7) was also a champion at 145 pounds and he did so with a pin fall victory, 20-5 technical fall and 11-2 major decision in the championship. Kyle Flieger (24-11) started with a bye at 160 and finished with two pins for a title, Mason Hibdon (24-8) was a champion at 220 with three pin falls and Tristan Gavette (27-9) had two byes before pinning his opponent in the title match at 285.
A trio of Tigers reached the finals and finished second. Matthew Radefeld (16-11) started with a bye and pin fall victory at 120 before dropping the title match by fall to Fatima’s Jason Strope (33-5). Jacob Schrock (21-6) won his first two matches by fall at 170 and lost a tough 5-3 decision in the championship to South Callaway’s Eli Benningfield (24-7). Connor Lehman (25-10) started with a bye, won an 8-3 decision and dropped the 182-pound championship to Tipton’s Chris Corley (28-8).
Meanwhile, four Versailles wrestlers finished third and advanced to sectionals. Ben Dornan (25-8) secured third place at 126 along with Tres Powers (30-9) at 132, Zachary Radefeld (32-4) at 152 and Gavin Brantley (22-16) at 195. Dillin Wheeler (12-13) came up just one match shy of a trip to sectionals at 138.
Versailles will have the privilege of staying at home for sectionals on February 27.
“We have two weeks to improve our conditioning, tweak some things individually and get ready for that final push,” Brantley said.
Camdenton captures 2nd at districts, sends all 13 wrestlers to sectionals
Every single wrestler in the lineup at Camdenton decided their season was not going to be over.
The Lakers hosted the Class 3 District 5 Tournament on Saturday and all 13 wrestlers who stepped on the mat fought off elimination by finishing in at least the top four of their respective weight classes to advance to sectionals. In the process, Camdenton finished second among seven schools in the team standings with 169.5 points, trailing only district champion Lebanon who had a full lineup of 14 rack up 240 points.
“We started out today and said our number one objective was for everybody to survive and move on. I don’t care if we win by one or 100, just survive and move on,” Camdenton coach Grant Leighty said. “Number two was to put ourselves in the best place so that we have a better chance of moving on next week and I think a lot of kids did that.”
It was mission accomplished for Camdenton and an encouraging sign overall for the program as Leighty also pointed out that some of his kids avenged previous losses in the Ozark Conference Tournament and the team finished above a school like third place Marshfield (160 points) that Camdenton previously came up short to on two prior occasions this season.
“That is an outstanding program and for us to do that kind of just shows me, and hopefully shows the kids, we are moving in the right direction,” he said of Marshfield. “I thought we were competitive with Lebanon. Lebanon has it going on right now and is one of the top-ranked teams in the state for a reason. We kind of use them as a measuring stick so if we are close to them, we feel like we are doing what we should be.”
Camdenton produced two district champions on Saturday in Grant Garrett (50-1) and Dakota Davis (51-1). With every wrestler starting in the quarterfinals, Garrett won all three of his matches at 138 pounds by pin fall and none of them went past the first round for the returning third place state medalist who reached 190 wins to move up to 11th all time in Missouri history.
“Having faith in myself, my teammates, coaches and family, I think that really elevated me to just wrestle better,” Garrett said of his path to the second district championship of his career. “That really helped, I think, but that is for me- my teammates pushing me.”
Davis also won a trio of pin falls on his way to his first district title at 285 pounds and it was another checkmark in his progression after making an appearance in the state quarterfinals last season.
“It is an amazing feeling and a lot of hard work,” said Davis who has enjoyed the season as one of the top-ranked wrestlers in his class. “After my loss against Ozark, I came back and watched that match a couple times. I came to practice and worked harder to just get better and chase down what I want and what I’m going to get.”
As happy as both district champions were for their own individual accomplishments, they were just as happy for their teammates and the fact that every single one of them is moving on. In a sport where each individual wrestler is accountable for their own triumphs or failures inside that circle on the mat, a second place finish and district plaque shows how much everyone is holding up their end of the bargain.
“We’ve had some tough teams, but we’ve never had as good of a team and as good of a bond,” Garrett noted. “I think this just signifies it is less about the plaque and more about the team. The teamwork this shows, everything we’ve put together as a team- I think that is the best thing about it.”
Camdenton’s lightest wrestler, 113-pounder Kaden Stivers, nearly also captured a district title as he improved to 28-10 on the season. Stivers started with a bye, won a first period pin fall in the semifinals and narrowly lost a 3-2 decision in the title match to Lebanon’s Quentin Long (25-8).
“I was super proud of him. He has come as far as any wrestler in a short amount of time,” Leighty said of Stivers. “Freshman year was his first year wrestling and for him to come that far is incredible.”
Camdenton had six wrestlers finish in third place. Cooper Rhodenizer (39-11) at 126, Aidan Neal (31-9) at 132, Wiley Powers (27-15) at 145, Kaiden Davis (33-13) at 182, Gunner Morris (32-15) at 195 and Roberto Montez (30-23) at 220 all accomplished the feat and four of them had to wrestle contested matches in the consolation semifinals with elimination on the line. Not bad, considering some of these wrestlers had little or no experience prior to this season.
“Roberto never wrestled before and gives us everything he has every time. That was huge and that match right there kind of locked second place as a team for us. Was super excited for him and just a super great kid,” Leighty said of Montez’s pin fall victory in the third place match that led to a shouts of joy from the Laker bench.
“Wiley had a little bit of experience in junior high, but that was about it. He mounted about 25 or 30 matches before he ever got to high school and he has worked himself in a position to place third in districts and got into position where he could come up with a big match and qualify for state as a sophomore,” the coach continued. “That is pretty awesome.”
Logan Tibben (35-14) captured fourth for the Lakers at 120 along with Cale Bentley (32-20) at 152, Nathaniel Beeson (31-22) at 160 and Garrett Stark (18-10) at 170 and three of the four also faced the possibility of elimination in the consolation semifinals. Like everyone else, they also took care of business when the time came and the next challenge is to finish in the top three at sectionals to punch a ticket to state.
“Keep coming in and working hard because you can always do better,” Davis said, noting now is not the time to be satisfied. “Everyone has room to improve so we just have to keep working together and for ourselves.”
Unlike previous years where the state tournament featured 16 wrestlers in each weight class, it is down to 12 this season with the addition of sectionals due to the challenges of COVID-19. The Laker girls will begin sectionals this weekend at Versailles and the boys will be back the following weekend at Willard. Being a returning third place finisher, Garrett has an idea of what it will take regardless of process.
“Just thrive and survive, adapt and overcome,” he said. “That is the best thing for our team right now. It is a real tough sectional so we are going to have to go out there and battle every single match, every single minute. That is the key to success in anything you do so I just think that is the way to get it.”
Leighty said it should send a strong message that all 13 wrestlers in the lineup will be going and with the challenges this year has presented, with COVID-19 and everything else, he is thankful for the assistants on his staff for helping the program reach this point.
“You try to plan out your practices and everything and get your kids to compete at the right time, but it is tough and especially this year that is not following the normal timeline and routines that you do,” the coach said. “It seems like the kids are so I’m giving my assistants some credit for that. They do an outstanding job at practice every day, try to keep the kids mentally up and I could not ask for three better assistants. We are just going to keep on plugging it and hopefully get a little bit better by next week.”
Osage and Eldon combine to send 18 wrestlers to sectionals from districts at Harrisonville
When the time came to survive and advance, School of the Osage and Eldon got most of their wrestlers to the next round.
The postseason began for the Indians and Mustangs in the Class 2 District 6 Tournament at Harrisonville on Saturday and the prize was a ticket to sectionals for any wrestler who finished in the top four of their respective weight class. Due to the challenges of COVID-19, sectional tournaments were added to the postseason and the state tournament will now feature the top 12 wrestlers in each weight class instead of the top 16.
With each wrestler starting in the quarterfinals, the Indians managed to get 11 of their 12 wrestlers through, Eldon sent seven of its 10 wrestlers to the next round and those 18 wrestlers from the Lake area will now need to finish in the top three at sectionals to earn a trip to state.
Osage finished second overall in the team standings with 169.5 points, trailing only Pleasant Hill’s full lineup of 14 wrestlers who finished with 233 to capture the team title. There were four district champions from Osage who helped make that happen.
Ryan Schepers, a returning fourth place state medalist, captured a title at 138 pounds and improved to 35-1 on the season with two pin fall victories and a 4-2 sudden victory in the championship match over Pleasant Hill’s Zach Redwine (44-1). Defending 160-pound state champion Chase Cordia has now won 85 of his past 86 matches and remains unbeaten this season at 43-0 after capturing a district title at 170 pounds. His first two matches were secured by pin falls in less than a minute and he finished with a pin fall victory in the finals. Jack Creasy also remains unbeaten for the Indians at 33-0 and after starting with a bye in the quarterfinals at 195 pounds, he captured two pin falls on the way to a title and the 150th win of his career. Connor Arrowood (23-5) managed to secure a district title as well at 220 after his bye in the quarterfinals was followed with a 3-2 tiebreaker and 5-0 decision in the championship.
Corey Hubkey (27-6) nearly joined the district championship club with his Osage teammates after finishing second at 145. He started with a pin fall and 12-4 major decision before dropping a 4-0 decision in the finals to Pleasant Hill’s Brayden Bush (40-6). The Indians had five wrestlers finish third in Zach Green (33-8) at 106, Jacob Zelle (11-15) at 126, Charlie Dulle (17-9) at 132, Mason Dulle (33-10) at 152 who earned the 100th win of his career and Tanner Gardner (10-11) at 285. Meanwhile, Zach Isom (19-9) finished fourth at 160 and Hayden Westbrook (18-11) came up just one match shy of a sectional bid at 113.
“The boys had an impressive day,” Osage coach Randy Satterlee said. “All in all, it was a great day for the team.”
Eldon finished fifth overall among the seven schools in attendance with 71 points and three Mustangs nearly became district champions.
Aidan Gerber (36-8) captured second at 120 pounds after starting with a quarterfinal bye and securing pin fall in the semifinals before dropping a third period pin fall in the finals to Pleasant Hill’s Lane Snyder (40-2). Sam Coppock (26-18) also received a bye in the quarterfinals at 182 pounds and also received a bye in the semifinals before falling to Pleasant Hill’s Lane Brattin (32-13) for the title in a 4-0 decision. Jasper Degraffenreid (24-11) began his journey at 285 with a quarterfinal bye, won a 3-2 decision in the semifinals and lost by pin fall in the finals to Nevada’s Skylur Mashek (15-12).
The Mustangs also had a quartet of wrestlers finish in fourth place and earn a trip to sectionals after they all won the crucial consolation semifinal match to guarantee their journey continued. Samuel Simmons (16-8) is moving on at 132 along with Evan Birdno (5-14) at 145 Dakota Collins (14-31) at 152 and Ian Birdno (15-23) at 170.
The season came to an end for 113-pounder Maddox Berlener who finished 7-25 along with Tevin Eldridge (14-23) at 126 and Jonathon Etzel (20-20) at 138. Both Berlener and Eldridge were one win away from a sectional bid.
The sectional tournament is slated for February 27 at Seneca High School where those 18 wrestlers from the Lake area will look to punch tickets to state.
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or 573-346-2132