Eldon’s Chapman and Dillon and Camdenton’s Rathmann come up just shy of medals in state wrestling tournament

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Camdenton freshman Clara Rathmann looks to finish a match with a pin fall victory on Tuesday, March 9 at Cable Dahmer Arena in the 2021 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.

The journey to the podium as one of the top six wrestlers in the state of Missouri can be tough. 

For the girls, that journey can be especially tough considering there is just one class for all schools regardless of size and the sport is continuing to grow after girls were introduced to their own division in the state just two years ago. This year, the unique challenges of COVID-19 have extended the postseason with the addition of a sectional tournament and the state tournament is being completed in a single day. 

So, when Eldon sophomores Anmarie Dillon and Olivia Chapman and Camdenton freshman Clara Rathmann walked in the doors of Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence for the 2021 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships on Tuesday morning, they were already amongst the top 12 wrestlers in their respective weight classes in a state tournament that usually features the top 16. They found themselves in a few tough battles on Tuesday as the the trio of Lake area wrestlers came up just shy of a medal. 

“Girls wrestling in Missouri is getting a lot better. There are multiple studs at each weight and when you don’t come out offensive, it is hard to win those matches,” Eldon coach Ryan Bird said of the day. 

Chapman was back for her second state tournament, taking on the top wrestlers at 151 pounds. The returning sixth place medalist started off well with a 4-0 decision over Liberty North’s Erma Williams (31-15) to advance to the quarterfinals where she met an undefeated defending state champion in Webster Grove’s Hannah Jansen (24-0) and lost by pin fall. Being a double-elimination tournament, Chapman automatically advanced to the consolation semifinals due to a medical forfeit by her opponent and it set up a critical showdown with another returning state medalist in Plattsburg’s Payge Fuller (34-4) who finished third at 125 a season ago. 

The winner would be guaranteed a medal and the loser would see their tournament come to an end just shy of the podium. 

Fuller and Chapman battled the full six minutes and some late near fall points near the end of the third period gave Fuller the edge in a 5-3 decision, bringing Chapman’s day to an end. Bird is hoping the tough result can provide some fuel heading into next season for the sophomore who finished 39-4 this season.

Eldon sophomore Olivia Chapman picks up near fall points in a state wrestling match on on Tuesday, March 9 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.

“Let’s hope. I would think so, but a loss in the bubble runs does some weird stuff to people,” the coach said. “I mean, she’ll be alright but it will take a little time. She’ll be alright and hopefully we get ‘Bully’ Olivia back.” 

A Dillon was back at state as well and it was Annmarie’s turn to take on the best for the Mustangs after her two older brothers previously won state titles for the program in their final matches as seniors. The sophomore’s tournament started against Seraphina Blackmon of Lafayette Wildwood (32-6), a wrestler from a program who produced three state medalist a season ago, and Dillon dropped her first match by pin fall in the second period. Needing a win to stay alive, she faced Cassville freshman Faith James (17-5) in the next round of consolation where she was pinned in the third period of a match she was trailing just 8-6 in. 

Eldon sophomore Anmarie DIllon looks to gain the advantage in a state wrestling match on Tuesday, March 9, at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.

“It is like I told her in the tunnel, she is five times a better wrestler thanks he was to start the year. She is more confident, more offensive and moves her hips well,” Bird said of Dillon. “She is young and she is a sophomore and it is her first time here. If you remember a few years ago, her brother Trenton qualified as a sophomore and didn’t medal, either. He turned out to be alright.” 

Overall, Bird said it was good to gain the experience and both sophomores are still relatively inexperienced amongst the best the state has to offer. Making some adjustments in the offseason, he expects to see both of them back. 

“It was a marathon, not a spring this year. That’s for sure,” the coach said, looking back. “We did not come out here with medals so we’re all a little disappointed, but I could not be more proud of those girls. They worked their tails off, proved they deserved to be here and they really are some of the better wrestlers in the state. We’ll just have to work harder next year.” 

Like Chapman, Rathmann also reached the final match that would determine whether or not she would get a medal. 

The freshman’s journey began with a 4-2 decision over Liberty North’s Elaiana Gorton (8-3) to punch a ticket to the quarterfinals where she took on Central Park Hills’ Alayna Ray (19-5) and was pinned with just six seconds left in the third period. Rathmann bounced back in the next round of consolation with a pin fall over Fox’s Faith Spicer (6-10) to reach the consolation semifinals and up next was a Highway 5 rival in Lebanon’s Mariah Brumley (36-4) who is also a freshman and managed to secure a pin to bring the journey to an end.

A tough way for any wrestler to finish their tournament, just one match shy of a spot on the podium, but the freshman was optimistic.

“I love it. I love this sport,” Rathmann said. “It was hard and a really long journey. Coming to state was amazing and I wish I would’ve placed, but you win some and lose some and I’ll be back next year.” 

Camdenton assistant Kris Paschel, who helps to lead the Laker girls in the program, was certainly proud of the freshman’s fight. 

“She worked her butt off this year and it has been a longer road than normal. We’re three weeks longer and are top three in our sectional so the reigns get tighter and tighter each week and she kept on coming and fighting,” he said. “Super proud of her, she wrestled her heart out today and on top of that- normally, it is a three-day tournament. So, all in one day is hard. You are sore your second match and you have to keep on going. You are going to take some bumps and bruises through this tournament and with everyone being tough, it is not easy. 

“Everyone is going to go home sore today. It was a tough tournament and a good day.” 

Rathmann may not have medaled, but wrestling in Independence on Tuesday continued the program’s presence at state where at least one Laker has been wrestling amongst the best girls in the state for each of the past three seasons scene the division was introduced. Paschel is hoping that can be the kind of thing that makes the program grow even more. 

“It think it does a lot. We’ve taken girls each of the three yeas and I just think it helps motivate other girls to know, ‘Hey, if she can do it, I can do it,’” he noted. “Hopefully, we can start building that camaraderie, start getting more girls here and make the realization it is not such a scary sport. It is actually a lot of fun and this part (state) is a lot of fun. I’d love to have more girls here.” 

Well, Rathmann intends to be one of the Lakers wrestling amongst the best next year and what she experienced today can pay dividends for her growth and improvement as a wrestler. 

“I’m going to be more prepared for today, that’s for sure,” the freshman stated. “Today was a really long and hard battle so I’ll be more prepared for it next year. I’ll know going into it what it is going to be like.” 

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132