By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With the night over and the wrestling mats being rolled up, Marshfield senior Daryl VanNostrand walked by the man he had just defeated, shook his hand again and a pat on the arm – the kind of gesture that sort of said, “Hey, keep your head up.”
Little did VanNostrand know that, out of earshot, he was soon to be paid a nice compliment.
“I need more matches like Daryl,” Central sophomore Gabe Fletchall said.
With 52 wins between them, the two wrestlers collided in a 195-pound match Thursday night at Central High School, with Fletchall making VanNostrand earn a 12-3 major decision.
Sure, the overall storyline was Marshfield cruising to 55-16 and 69-12 dual victories against Webb City and Central, respectively.
However, VanNostrand-Fletchall was among the more intriguing match-ups, and arguably left both wrestlers sensing they improved – a big key as the season nears the postseason.
It was only 5-2 VanNostrand after the opening period, and only 7-2 entering the final stanza before VanNostrand showed why he is surging this season.
He won the Kinloch Holiday Tournament and placed third last Saturday at the Branson Tournament, and now awaits the Central Ozark Conference Small Tournament this weekend at Rogersville.
“I’m definitely a lot better than I was at the beginning of the year, when I was hesitant on taking shots,” VanNostrand said. “I’ve been working in the room with my practice partners a lot. They’re preparing me.”
He acknowledged that Fletchall prepared him, too. Early in the match, Fletchall wisely caught him being overly aggressive and off-balance while on top and reversed him. It was 4-2 at that point.
“He was really strong,” VanNostrand said. “He was good on bottom, and it was hard for me to turn him.”
Said Marshfield coach Matt Holt, “He made a statement at the Branson tournament. He’s gotten a lot better on his offense. He’s great on top and can turn people. But he’s really improved on his feet this year.”
In Fletchall, Central appears to have a potential talent. Only a sophomore, he’s already got the muscular build on a 5-foot-11 frame and has a former wrestling coach as his dad (Mike). Fletchall senses VanNostrand made him better.
“I hope so,” Fletchall said. “There’s a lot of things I left out on the mat. … I know I’ve got a lot to perfect.”
Said Central coach Brian Pyck, “He hasn’t been pinned yet, and he was able to hang with an Oklahoma state finalist at the Jay Tournament. And he worked in the weight room really hard in the summer, and a big part of that is his dad, who influences him.”
Against Central, Marshfield scored pins thanks to 132-pound Nick Taylor, 138-pound Isaiah Ragsdale, 145-pound Will Snider, 152-pound Zach Kurre, 160-pound Clayton Brooks and 182-pound Clay Wilson.
Central was without several varsity regulars due to injury, including 170-pound David Margaryan, a foreign exchange student well-versed in Greco-Roman throws.
Meanwhile, Webb City bounced back by beating Central 64-6. The best match arguably was 145, as Webb City’s Brayden Hollingsworth gritted his way to a 5-2 win against senior Anthony Grenal.
“He avenged a loss, so that was good for him,” Webb City coach Larron Hurst said.
Hurst also is pleased with several wrestlers at this point, including 120-pound Josh Copher, a returning state qualifier who now has 22 wins.
“He’s won some good matches,” Hurst said. “He’s making small steps.”