By Pat Dailey (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Marshfield won its three duals Tuesday, beating Glendale 55-22, downing Willard 42-29 and taking care of Hillcrest 72-12.
Willard whipped both Glendale 64-16 and Hillcrest 72-6 and Glendale handled Hillcrest 72-12.
Marshfield 182-pounder Clay Wilson (40-5) put a pair of foes on their back to up his pins count to 37. He’s among the state’s leaders in falls.
“My favorite thing is to hear our crowd yelling, ’Squeeze,’ while I’m pinning a kid,” he said. “I love it.”
Wilson, a junior, is aiming for a second trip to State. If he does make it to Columbia, his fortunes almost certainly have to be better than year ago. He suffered a ruptured appendix the day of the opening round at State last year. He had surgery on the second day of State.
“At first, coach and I just thought it was nerves,” Wilson said. “My stomach was hurting and I was puking. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to wrestle and I said that is what I worked for all year. I didn’t do so well. I wish I could have won one. But I don’t feel too bad about it. The pain was pretty bad. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt.
“My goal this year is to medal. I want to take top six this year and top three next year.”
Wilson has taken some good-natured kidding from friends about what could go wrong this year.
“People are saying to me, ‘Oh, it’s going to be your gall bladder this year,’” Wilson said. “I tell them, ‘Hey, that’s not funny, man.’”
Willard’s Riley Wertz is looking to end his sophomore season with a bang, after it began with a thud.
Wertz upped his record to 23-2 with three victories during the Tigers’ quadrangular with host Springfield Glendale, Springfield Hillcrest and Marshfield Tuesday.
The 113-pound Wertz has about half as many matches as most of his counterparts due to a broken left elbow he suffered during a pre-season intra-squad scrimmage. He returned to Willard’s lineup at the start of the new year.
“My elbow went backward and snapped,” Wertz said of his injury. “The bone was detached. I almost tore my UCL ligament. I’m lucky I didn’t because then I would have been out the whole season.”
Wertz’s comeback has also seen him claim a COC Large Schools Tournament championship last weekend. He’s competing with his elbow wrapped.
“It feels good, like it’s back to normal,” he said. “It’s strong enough that I don’t think about it during matches. Afterward, it’s a little sore. But I’m all right.
“My first tournament back was pretty rough. I only had two practices. I was out of shape. As the weeks have passed by, I’ve gotten more cardio and more prepared for Districts.”
Willard 145-pounder Alex Garrett (44-1) continued to dominate Tuesday with a pin in his only match. Like Wertz, Garrett won a COC championship over the weekend. He did so by collecting four pins and a win by majority decision.
“It went well, but I don’t think I wrestled to my full potential,” Garrett said. “I’ve got to wrestle better and bounce back for Districts.”
Garrett isn’t paying attention to where he might be seeded at Districts.
“I don’t look at that very much because I don’t want to psyche myself out,” he said. “It’s my senior year and I want to have as much fun as possible and just go in and wrestle.
“I feel like I’m performing way better than last year. I’ve improved a whole lot and I feel like I’ve progressed every year. But there’s a point where you have to work harder and improve more than everyone else.”
In addition to a State berth, Garrett also has his sights set on joining former teammates Hunter Yeargan and Niko Chavez as members of Willard’s 50-win single-season club.
“That would mean a lot to me,” Garrett said.
Glendale 160-pounder Cameron Flanagan (42-5) enjoyed ‘Senior Night’ by sweeping his three matches. He’s completing his career as a Falcon, after spending his freshman year in Olney, Illinois, transferring to Glendale as a sophomore, moving back to Olney as a junior and returning to Glendale as a senior.
Olney’s population is 8,600.
“It’s nice being back,” Flanagan said. “I’m glad I came back. This is a bigger city with better opportunities.”
Flanagan is shining at 160 after wrestling at 195 as a sophomore. He relates he’s determined to make it to State for the first time, after three times losing in the ‘Heartbreak Round’ at Districts and falling one win shy of State in Illinois and Missouri.
“I accepted it, but there’s always that little bit of regret for not pushing yourself a little further,” Flanagan said. “I’m hard at it and feeling good. I think I have a good shot this year.”