Camdenton wrestling’s Davis takes second and Garett captures third at Class 3 State Tournament
As the Class 3 State Tournament wrapped up Friday evening, Camdenton senior Grant Garrett could feel a sense of satisfaction.
Not only had he earned his second consecutive third place medal among the best Class 3 wrestlers in the state at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, but he was joined on the podium by junior Dakota Davis who finished second and was Camdenton’s first state finalist since 2004 and the Lakers had two other state qualifiers in action in junior Kaden Stivers and sophomore Logan Tibben. The program’s success had grown and that is what he was the most happy about.
“It is a great moment and I’m glad to have come out with a win,” the senior said after the final match of his career, “but I’m most proud of my team and my family I’ve run around with the last four years. We went from one or two state qualifiers a year to four and now we have two state medalists. That was my goal to just get as many people here and get people knowing about what is happening.
“Camdenton wrestling is not one to mess around with and Dakota Davis is the baddest dude at Camdenton.”
Davis ended a 17-year drought for the Lakers when he became the first wrestler in a state championship match since Brandon Hayes. His journey in the 285-pound bracket began in the quarterfinals after he was awarded a first-round bye due to his success during the season and he secured a 1-0 decision over Farmington’s Clayton Barber (30-8) to get to the semifinals. Up next was Grain Valley’s Donovan McBride (11-3), a returning fourth place medalist in the weight class, and Davis secured a pin in the third round to get to the championship match.
“It is an amazing feeling and crazy to even think about it. Seventeen years we have not had a finalist and to be the one to break that is just an amazing feeling,” Davis stated. “All the blood, sweat and tears I put in this sport are paying off.”
Davis met unbeaten Jacob Jackson (31-0) of DeSmet who also received a bye and pinned both of his first two opponents in the first round on his way to the championship. After a scoreless first period, Jackson got an escape point to take a 1-0 lead to start the second and a takedown 20 seconds later made it 3-0. Davis responded with an escape to make it 3-1 and a stalling point gave Jackson a 4-1 lead at the end of the second. Jackson opted to go neutral at the start of the third, making the score 4-2, and he got one more takedown to take a 6-2 lead with just over a minute left. Davis got one more escape point, but the clock ran out in a 6-3 decision.
“Last year at Hickman (Columbia) he major decisioned me (won by at least eight points) so my one goal was to give it my all and that is all I could do and not get major decisioned,” Davis said of the bout as he ended his year 56-2. “I’m stoked, but I’m still not satisfied so I’m going to come back and work even harder. It was awesome to be able to wrestle him, though, he is an animal.
“I’m going to com back next year even better and hopefully, take home that title.”
Camdenton coach Grant Leighty referred to the Class 3 heavyweight champion as a “Man Child” and said Davis wrestled as well as anyone could have.
“He was above and beyond most normal wrestlers,” Leighty noted. “He pinned everyone else in the tournament and we held him to a 6-3 decision. I think that speaks volumes for him.”
Davis credited the coaching staff, noting how far he has come since his freshman year. A second place medal being a wrestler’s first state medal is not so bad.
“I was not doing so hot and then I got back in the room during summer and went to camps. My head coach helped me through a lot my sophomore year and I did pretty good, there, and made it to state,” the junior remarked. “My junior year I came back and worked even harder and he has helped me through so much.”
Garrett ran into some tough competition, too, amongst the best Class 3 wrestlers in the state. Like Davis, his path began in the quarterfinals and he pinned Grain Valley’s Tanner Barker (28-6). Up next was unbeaten Jacob Mann (36-0) of Ladue Horton Watkins in the semifinals who previously won two state titles and was a defending state champion at 126 pounds. Garrett dropped an 11-5 decision against Mann who went on to win a third state title.
“That man is a bad dude. Jacob Mann is a very technical wrestler and I’ve been preparing for two weeks and still lost 11-5,” Garrett noted. “It is an experience and losses teach you more than wins do. I’m glad to have been out there wrestling with the best people and I’m going to college to continue my wrestling career so I think the best thing to do for me is to wrestle the baddest dude because that is how college is.
“I’m happy with the decision. That is the first decision win he’s had in the last two years, so, I’m proud of the way I worked,” Garrett continued, also noting Mann had not lost since a state title match his freshman season. “A lot of people doubted me and I think I came in there and made a statement. That is what my goal was- win or loss, either way I made something happen.”
The senior finished his day with a 4-2 decision over Hillsboro’s Dalton Litzsinger (43-5), a returning third place medalist at 132 pounds. It was the 215th and final match of Garrett’s career and after hugging his coaches, he made his way to the stands and hugged his family.
“I can’t thank my parents enough. Everything they’ve done, all the money they sacrificed- there is literally nothing I could ask for better than that,” the senior pointed out. “My dad is my hero. He stepped up and kept me disciplined and kept me in line. My mom, as well, with my grades and taking care of me.
“I could not thank them enough and there are no words that could describe how much love I feel and how thankful I am for them.”
Garrett won 197 of those 215 matches, finishing his career 197-18 with 131 pin falls. That is a winning percentage of about 92 percent over the past four years and he is in the top 10 for the most wins in Missouri high school wrestling history.
“I’ve had a lot of of great wrestlers- state champions and All-Americans- and Grant is right up there with all of them,” said Leighty who also wondered what may have happened if Garrett had a more fortunate draw in the bracket after finishing third the last two years. “The dedication he had to the program and to other wrestlers is unmatched. He is the kind of kid you want in your program because you know he is going to make your program better. I’m super proud of him and I feel very fortunate I had the opportunity to coach him.”
Stivers (31-13) started his tournament at 113 pounds against Farmington’s Dayton Boyd (32-6) and dropped a 6-1 decision and he met Fort Osage’s Rylan Mansfield (29-5) in consolation and saw his tournament come to an end with a 17-2 technical fall. Logan Tibben (38-17) went up against DeSmet’s Colton King (17-4) in the first round at 120 pounds and was pinned. He met Jonathan Coroama of North County (26-4), a returning sixth place medalist at 120, and ended his tournament with a 15-5 major decision defeat.
“I’m extremely proud of the kids. I thought Dakota and Grant wrestled their hearts out and I saw some of the better matches out of Kaden and Logan as well,” Leighty said. “Logan was out there wrestling the returning Class 4 state champion and took him down and got back points off him. Kaden went out there his first round and wrestled a 6-1 match against a kid that ended up medaling.
“It proves to me we are there and we just have to clean it up a little bit over the next nine months. We’ll put in the work and get that done.”
It was an unusual season in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic with the addition of a sectional tournament and a state tournament that took place a few weeks after it usually does. Leighty noted that had it been a regular year, he thinks more Lakers would have been battling with the best at state.
“Guys were right there, but I’m extremely proud of the ones who got dow here. They are going to be able to take that, apply that next year and three of them are coming back so they know what it takes to come down here and win,” the coach stated. “They know what they have to do over the next nine or 10 months to get that done and hopefully, they’ll put to good use that time and we’ll be able to come back and share that with other kids in the room. We had several kids here up in the stands watching and I’m sure they are going to want to come get a piece of this next year, too.
“I think we have a real good shot to increase our numbers and they’ll be coming down here next year.”
Garrett has a pretty good idea of what it will take.
“Grind and wrestle all the time. Do offseason work because summer work makes winter champions,” the senior said, also noting how he felt it was all worth it looking back on his career 215 matches later. “There is nothing harder than the sport of wrestling and I think if you stick with it, you will always come out being a bad dude no matter what you do.”
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132