By Chris Parker & Scott Vanscoy
Parkview hosted the 51st annual Kinloch Classic wrestling tournament on Saturday.
Jackson and Ray-Pec took the top two spots in the team competition, but the area found strong individual success with eight champions in 14 weight classes.
Two of those winners were highlighted by returning state champions Jay Strausbaugh from Rogersville and Oscar Ortiz from McDonald County.
Strausbaugh continued his dominant senior season with a title at 138 pounds. He won his championship bout by a score of 7-3 over Ray-Pec’s Kanen Huff. The Rogersville junior currently sports an impressive record of 26-0.
He has embraced the pressure that comes with being a state champion.
“People will be aiming for me…I kind of do have a target on my back,” Strausbaugh said. “I like the competition. With a target on my back it means I get more competition because everyone is going to want to come and beat me.”
Ortiz was dominant throughout the whole tournament at 126 pounds. The McDonald County senior won his three matches on Friday fall or tech fall. He ran through the bracket portion on Saturday with a major decision, fall and finally a major decision over Helias Catholic’s Alexsey Salaz.
Buffalo’s Ethan Smith is a former state champion and defending state runner-up who is up 20 pounds this year to 152. He was battling injury, but that did not stop him from beating Windsor’s Grant Pauli 5-3 to win a Kinloch title.
“I have been dealing with some injuries lately, and it has changed the way I have had to wrestle. There are some things I had to overcome, but overall I think I wrestled pretty good,” Smith said.
Rolla’s Zach Fennell didn’t let wrestling up a weight class slow him down. The junior won the 132-pound title over Ray-Pec’s Garrett LaBelle in a 4-2 decision to improve to 16-0 on the season.
“I normally wrestle down at 126, so I knew going up to 132 everyone was going to be a little bit bigger. (I just) wanted to wrestle smart and stay in a good position,” Fennell said.
His teammate Xander Sederburg won the 120-pound championship in a matching 4-2 decision over Jackson’s Alec Bailey.
Rogersville also locked down a second individual title at 220 pounds. Senior Barrett Beaird beat Bolivar’s Drayton Huchteman in an 8-3 decision.
“(I just wanted to) stay in good position and have a fun time and no matter come out enjoying it and loving it,” Beaird said. “It is an outlook on the year. It is my senior year. You can walk off the mat regretting anything, especially now.”
Ozark junior Wyatt Snyder beat Helias Catholic’s Jack Lage 2-0 to win the 113-pound title.
Hayden Burks remained unbeaten at 19-0 after defeating Parkview’s Kenyen Keiber 8-2 in the 160-pound championship.
Bolivar was also the area’s top finishing team in third place.