By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The chocolate milk went fast.
Waynesville had eight individual wrestling champions take victory swigs on the podium Saturday afternoon at the Ozark Conference Championships at Parkview High School.
“They come up with things to do, something different each week, and (drinking from a chocolate milk carton) was their idea this week,” said Tigers coach Lucas Smith.
In addition to the calcium boost, the Tigers also won their second conference title in three years. Waynesville finished with a 199.5 team score, edging second-place Lebanon by only 3.5 points.
“We put together a good amount of bonus points to climb back in and make sure we were where we need to be in the team race,” Smith said. “We had a lot of guys come through, especially in that last round, to get those bonus points and things like that.”
Waynesville had six individual champions at the varsity level: Gaven Sax (132), Sean Sax (138), Michael Cassidy (145), Daniel Albrecht (160), Devon Stearns (170) and Andrew Lietold (195).
But it was a JV wrestler – Aaron McDaniel – who apparently got the victory-swig celebration going.
“Aaron McDaniel, our 138 for JV – he would be on varsity but we have me, Gaven (Sax) and Michael (Cassidy) and we’re all going to be state placers. We always treat (Aaron) as a varsity member, because he would be a varsity member. He’s varsity material, just hasn’t gotten the spot yet,” Sean Sax said. “Once he did (the victory swig), we were like, ‘Yo, we’re going to do it. We’re all going to do it.
“If you were a champion today, you could drink.”
And drink they did, as a concerned coach looked on.
“As soon as I saw them start doing that – drinking from the same carton – (the germs) was the first thing that came to my mind,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘Great, now we’re going to have to fight off the flu this week.’ Hopefully we won’t have to worry about it and we’ll keep going on like we have been.”
Waynesville’s Cassidy wins 145-pound division in upset
What do you do after beating a three-time, all-state wrestler?
If you’re Waynesville’s Michael Cassidy, you let out a primal scream of emotion, joy and adrenalin.
Cassidy overcame a 1-0 deficit in the third period to defeat Rolla’s Coleman Brainard 4-2 in the 138-pound finals.
“It’s just pure joy, man. A pure rush,” Cassidy said. “I wasn’t supposed to win that match. It feels good to win.”
Cassidy trailed 1-0 in the third period. He remained patient and scored four points in the final 1:30.
“It was rough the first two periods,” Cassidy said. “I waited for my shot, setting up the entire match and saving it. Third period, it was just all there, and he wasn’t ready for it.”
Cassidy, 40-3 overall, knew about his opponent’s accolades.
“It was a big deal,” Cassidy said. “(Brainard) is a kid I definitely wasn’t supposed to beat. I was able to go out and do it because I’ve been training hard. It feels great.”
Sean Sax wins 138-pound title with ease
Judging by his performance on Saturday, Sean Sax is primed for a strong finish to his career.
The Waynesville senior and three-time all-state wrestler pinned his way to the 138-pound championship on Saturday. He pinned all three of his opponents in the first round, including Camdenton’s Gabe Blain in the finals.
“I knew what I had to do,” Sean Sax said. “I saw I was facing the Camdenton kid in the finals, I didn’t get my chance to beat him in the regular season, so I had to go out there and show him who’s boss.”
Sean Sax finished third, a personal best, in the 126-pound division at last year’s state tournament.
“He’s focused on his goals and his goals haven’t changed since he was a freshman,” said Waynesville coach Lucas Smith. “This year, I think he’s starting to get over any humps he’s had. He’s locked in and looking forward to the state meet in a few weeks.”
Training pays off for Joplin’s Booe
Being big doesn’t mean you have to be out of shape.
Joplin heavyweight Jacob Booe said he’s reaping the benefits of a dedicated training regimen. The junior claimed the 285-pound championship by outlasting Lebanon’s Race Cottongim in a 7-3 decision.
“It feels good, especially since we’re going to a different conference (COC-Large) next year,” Booe said. “It just piles on top of the football accomplishments we had. I’m very thankful for my coaches pushing me this far. I’m gonna take it to the next step, then the next step after that.”
The next step, Booe said, is winning both districts and state. Booe qualified for state last year but went 0-2 in Columbia.
He’s revamped his training this year. Booe said he runs “almost every morning,” and is eating healthier overall.
“Not as much junk food, not as much candy,” he said. “I’m still trying to stay up on weight because I am in the heavyweight division. I don’t want to get too light.
“But my body just feels better in general.”
Booe’s victory, in the final match of the day, helped Waynesville clinch the overall team title.
Lebanon’s Christian a young “veteran”
When it comes to wrestling experience, Lebanon’s Trevor Christian is a sophomore in name only.
The son of Lebanon football coach Will Christian spends his offseasons – when he’s not training for football – at prestigious wrestling tournaments across the region.
“Doing freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments in the offseason helps a lot at this time of year,” Trevor Christian said.
Trevor Christian (43-2 overall) defeated Camdenton’s Jesus Ramirez by decision, 11-7, in the 152-pound title match.
“I should’ve got the major (decision), but I still did pretty good,” Christian said. “He had a late takedown on me at the end. Other than that, I was pleased with my match.”
Trevor’s aiming to improve upon last year’s state showing, when he took 5th at 132. He’s bumped up three weight classes this season.
“I’ve just been trying to get stronger and faster,” Christian said. “Then, I’ve been working on my offense – shots and stuff like that.
Trevor Christian was one of eight Yellowjackets to reach the finals on Saturday; Cole Roark (126) and Ty Glendenning (182) were also victorious in their title matches.