By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
MONETT, Mo. – It came down to the finals to crown a champion at the first Big 8 Conference wrestling tournament Friday night.
Host Monett and Seneca entered the championship round deadlocked with a combined 13 wrestlers competing for first place – and the Cubs seemed to have an advantage with eight in the finals.
But Seneca went 4-1 with two falls to beat Monett by a point for the conference title.
“With all four mats going it looked like a Rocky movie,” Seneca coach Jeff Sill said. “I’m glad we were able to have a conference tournament. I’m just proud of the way our kids wrestled as a team. We knew Monett had their heavy hitters but we had to chip away. The kids did a great job and got the bonus points where we needed them.”
Seneca’s Levi Connelly (33-4) beat Logan-Rogersville’s Preston Sleeth 8-1 in the finals at 106 pounds and Dalton HembrEE (35-2) beat Marshfield’s Will Snider 7-3 at 145 pounds.
Kendon Pollard (22-5) and Dayton Fields (35-4) picked up crucial bonus points with Pollard pinning McDonald County’s Eh Doh Say in 3:11 for the 113-pound title and Field’s pinning Marshfield’s Jordon Irwin in 5:10 at 160.
Seneca finished eight all-conference wrestlers: Connelly at 106, Pollard at 113, Gabriel Commons (third) at 132, Hembree at 145, Cotten (second) at 152, Fields at 160, Gabe Smith (third) at 170 and Skyleer Commons (third) at 195.
Monett, meanwhile, went 4-4 in the finals but recorded just one fall and a major decision. Karter Brink (34-5) won the conference title at 120 pounds with a 10-5 win over Logan-Rogersville’s Gabe Brandenberg. Joseph Semerad (35-3) won at 132 with a 9-5 victory against Reeds Spring’s Eric Holt. At 152 pounds, Gunnar Bradley (30-7) defeated Seneca’s Zane Cotten by 12-3 major, and Wesley Merriman (27-9) pinned Marshfield’s Daylon Kanengieter in 1:46 at 195 pounds.
The Cubs had 10 wrestlers finish in the top three to earn all-conference honors, including Matthew Bahl (second) at 126, Elias Barrientos (second) at 138, Ethan Umfleet (second) at 170, Dru Guinn (third) at 182, Harrison Merriman (third) at 220 and Raymond Villalta (second) at 285.
“We had eight opportunities to win matches in the finals and they had five,” Monett coach Daryl Bradley said. “We had to win more than them to win because I knew they were going to get some bonus here and there. I knew we had an opportunity here and there to get some too, we just didn’t get it done.
“I’m not mad at my kids,” he said. “I thought we competed well today. It’s pretty awesome, the first conference tournament. We get 10 in the top three, four champs we had. We had opportunities we just didn’t take advantage of them. Hopefully we learn from them. Seneca’s a good team. They had a complete team effort today that got them over the hump.”
Oscar Ortiz of McDonald County won the 126-pound title with a 9-7 sudden victory against Monett’s Bahl. Ortiz was later named Big 8 Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“It feels great,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been working hard this whole year. We finally got it done this tournament.
“I just want to thank all my coaches and teammates, my family,” he said. “All the coaches back at the high school.”
Logan-Rogersville’s Jay Strausbagh won the 138-pound championship with a 7-2 win against Monett’s Barrientos. Barrett Beaird won 3-1 against Marshfield’s Travin Plemmons in the 220-pound championship.
Reeds Spring’s Clayton Johnson won the 170-pound title. He won 6-5 over Monett’s Umfleet in the finals.
At 182 pounds, Marshfield’s Clay Wilson beat Logan-Rogersville’s Jake Carrow by fall in 1:11.
Nevada’s Caleb Longobardi won the 285-pound title, beating Monett’s Raymond Villalta 6-2.
Cassville’s Gabe Hunter was third at 120 pounds and Keaton Artherton was third at 145 pounds.
Logan-Rogersville had eight honorees, including Preston Sleeth (second) at 106 pounds, Gabe Brandenberg (second) at 120, Riley Williams (third) at 126, Trenton Graham (third) at 152, Jake Carrow (second) at 182 and Adam Reaves (third) at 285.
For Marshfield, Damian Dockery was third at 106, Ruger Leppert was third at 138, Will Snider was second at 145, Jordon Irwin was second at 160, Daylon Kanengieter was second at 195 and Travin Plemmons was second at 220.
For McDonald County, Eh Doh Say was second at 113 pounds and Jack Teague was third at 160.
Nevada’s Lane Brooks placed third at 113 pounds.
Reeds Spring’s Eric Holt was second at 132 pounds.
Monett’s Bradley was named Coach of the Year.
“We’ve had a great year,” he said. “That’s pretty cool that coaches think that. We didn’t win the tournament obviously. I’ve got others around me that make my job a lot easier.”
McDonald County 196.5
Reeds Spring 196
Springfield Catholic 28