By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
MONETT, Mo. – Five times a Monett wrestler took to the mat for a championship match, and five times they came away a winner.
The Cubs’ perfect performance in the finals catapulted the team to a first-place finish on Saturday in the Monett Invitational as Monett bested Willard by nine-and-a-half points.
“It was special,” Monett coach Daryl Bradley said. “It was a good effort by our kids. Five champs at this tournament, it’s a pretty tough little tournament. Not too bad around here. I’m really proud of our kids, they really stepped up. Everybody contributed. We were one person short; we’ve got a couple guys hurt and out of the lineup so I still think we’re going to be even better. To win a tournament while not being at full strength is pretty special for us.”
Turning in first-place finishes for the Cubs were Karter Brink at 120 pounds, Matthew Bahl at 126, Joseph Semerad at 132, Elias Barrientos at 138 and Gunnar Bradley at 152.
“And we needed to win all those matches in order to give us a chance for the championship and we did,” Bradley said. “Went perfect in the finals and had just enough to pull it out.”
Brink, a state champion last season at 120 pounds, pinned his first three opponents and added a 16-4 major decision in the semifinals. He beat Gabe Brandenberg of Logan-Rogersville 8-4 in the 120 pound first-place match and improved to 21-5.
At 126 pounds, Bahl, a state runner-up at 113, won by fall in his first four matches and then beat Bentonville West’s Zack Ireland 7-4 in the finals. Bahl improved to 19-5.
Semerad, a two-time state champion at 106, pinned four of his five opponents, including one in just 25 seconds in the semifinals at 132. He won 7-0 over Daryl Easterling of Bentonville West in the finals and improved to 21-3.
Barrientos, 18-6, pinned Eric Holt of Reeds Spring in 3:11 in the 138-pound finals. He opened the day by handing Logan-Rogersville’s Jay Strausbaugh his first loss of the season with a fall in 1:40.
Bradley, also 18-6, shut out Tallon Heimbach of Willard 7-0 in the 152-pound finals.
The five wrestlers combined to score 204 of the team’s 284 points, and Monett also benefited from a fourth-place finish by Wesley Merriman at 195 pounds.
“We beat some really good kids,” Bradley said. “Elias Barrientos beat an undefeated wrestler, the Strausbaugh kid from Rogersville. He was 25-0. We stuck him in the first. Caught him out of position but that was a big win and then we go back and end up pinning a state qualifier and then in the finals we beat a state placer from Reeds Spring. He had a great individual effort. At 120 we beat Brandenberg who was ranked number one in the state but we should be there because we’re the returning state champ. That was a big win for us. At 26 Matthew Bahl beat a state runner up from Arkansas and we did the same thing at 32, beat an Arkansas state champ with Joseph Semerad. Gunnar Bradley, my boy, I’m really proud of him. That kid pinned us last year in the finals and we came back and beat him 7-0 this year so it was a little redemption.”
Monett’s win came after it battled Willard most of the afternoon for the lead as the two schools quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the 14-team field. The Tigers had seven medalists but just one winner. Christian Finley (33-1) took first at 106 pounds with a 4-2 decision over Webb City’s Kyler Carter, who fell to 22-1 with the loss.
That avenged a string of something like five-straight losses for Finley against Carter.
“We have yet to get him and today we wrestled really well in that finals match and took care of him,” Willard coach Justin Wisdom said.
The Tigers lost three other finals matches. Michael Finley (27-6) lost by fall in 1:37 to Moberly’s Zach Lewis (27-1) at 113 pounds. Tallon Heimbach (29-5) lost 7-0 top Monett’s Bradley at 152 pounds. at 170 pounds, Jed Brandon (27-4) lost by medical forfeit to Logan Zimmermann of DeSoto.
Other medalists for Willard were Oscar Martinez, who took fourth at 120; Jonah Peters, who took fourth at 132; and Cameron Caldwell, who was third at 220.
“When we came in today we talked about wanting to be the toughest team here mentally, physically,” Wisdom said. “I wasn’t really focused on wins and losses. I thought if we could be the toughest kid on the mat every time we stepped on it then the wins and losses would take care of themselves and the team race would fall how it would fall. Monett did a nice job there late in the medal rounds and ended up coming back and taking first place from us but they’ve got a real tough team.”
In other finals action, Bolivar, Moberly and DeSoto each finished with two individual champions.
Bolivar’s Austin Coons (22-2) took first at 145 pounds after beating Cassville’s Keaton Artherton 1-0. At 160 pounds, Bolivar’s Hayden Burks maintained his perfect record with a 5-0 win over Adrian Whitehead of Oak Grove. Burks improved to 24-0.
The Liberators finished in third place with 230.5 points, holding off Oak Grove by a point. They had four total medalists.
Moberly had winners at 113 and 195. Zach Lewis (27-2) pinned Willard’s Michael Finley in 1:37 at 113 pounds. Chance Richards improved to 20-0 with an 11-6 win over Eldon’s Kaden Dillon in the 195-pound match.
For DeSoto, Logan Zimmerwon won at 170 pounds with the medical forfeit over Willard’s Jed Brandon. Zimmeron is 20-0. Landon Porter, 20-0, won at 285 pounds with a 4-3 decision over Tyler Curd of Oak Grove in the most exciting match of the finals.
In the other two finals matches, Eldon’s Dawson Brandt (24-2) pinned Zach Kroah of Oak Grove in 2:49 at 182 pounds, and Logan-Rogersville’s Barrett Beaird (24-5) won by fall in 5:12 over Webb City’s Matt Miller at 220 pounds.
Oak Grove 229.5
Bentonville West 154
Webb City 150
Reeds Spring 109.5