By Chris Parker & Zach Mason
Firsts were a natural theme for the inaugural MSHSAA State Girls Wrestling Tournament.
The Lebanon girls collected more firsts than most on Saturday.
The Yellowjackets crowned the program’s first individual girls state champion in Quincy Glendenning. They also earned the first ever girls wrestling team state championship, which is also the first Lebanon team state champion in any sport for either gender.
“It feels great to be the inaugural state champions. I’m real proud of the girls. They have worked so hard all year to get where they are at. I couldn’t be happier for them,” Lebanon girls head coach Matt Neely said.
Yet it was an ending Neely couldn’t have envisioned when practice started in November.
“We knew we would have numbers, but we didn’t know if we were going to have enough really good wrestlers right away to make it happen,” Neely said.
Lebanon sent five girls to the state wrestling tournament with four placing and two earning berths in the state title match. Glendenning won the 131-pound title via pin while finished runner-up at 136. Ashlynn Leochner (116) and Talora Frisbee (167) both finished fourth. Emily Young rounded out the state team at 110 pounds.
Neely expects the numbers for next year’s team to grow thanks to the excitement generated by a state championship.
“I thoroughly expect tons of numbers next year because all of the girls at our school are going to see this and going to want to be a part of it. This is the first state team title for any sport in Lebanon history,” Neely said. “It gives us a huge amount of bargaining power with all of the other girls in the school. Everyone wants to be a part of a state title team. So I expect next year our numbers will be huge.”
Buffalo’s Lizzie Miller also brought home a state championship at 116 pounds. She pinned Lawson’s Brooke Cox at the 3:13 mark to earn the title and finish the season with a record of 24-1.
“It (girls state) has gotten a lot of ladies involved and I am super excited about that. I love seeing the sport grow. For me personally, it is just going to push me to come back my senior year and get another state title,” Miller said.
Miller’s brother Floyd Miller also won a state title at 170 pounds in Class 2 to give the Miller’s the distinction of the first MSHSAA brother and sister to win state wrestling titles.
Waynesville’s Justice Seely (2nd at 121) and Jazzmine Seely (3rd at 143) along with Willard’s Gracie Lawhon (3rd at 152), Branson’s Erin Bohmont (3rd at 167) and Nixa’s Ashlyn Eli (3rd at 103) also brought home medals to the area.