By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Wrestling also has long been important at Lebanon High School, and this year’s Yellowjackets could do some damage.
Just look up and down the boys and girls rosters. On the boys side, up to 80 may be in the room, and that includes six returning state qualifiers. On the girls side, everyone returns from winning the inaugural MSHSAA girls state tournament.
In other words, what a great problem to have for coach Randy Roark, who if he wasn’t smiling during a phone interview, well, he ought to be.
“We’ve got a good youth program that keeps on room full,” Roark said.
The roster is at least three-deep at all 14 weight classes. Projected are freshman Jonathan Perryman (106), sophomore Josiah Perryman or freshman Davis Joiner (113), junior Cole Patten (120), sophomore Bo Rosen or senior Austin Johnson (126), senior Cole Roark (132), junior Hayden Dearborn or sophomore Robert Garner (138), junior Elijah Arl (145), and senior Trevor Christian (152).
In the upper weights, Lebanon has freshman Cade Mussia (160), junior Colt Adkins (171), junior Jake Henson (189), senior Landen Smith (195), sophomore Kaden Brown, junior Jayden Hubler, Logan Berry or sophomore Zach Smith (220) and junior Garrett Childers and junior Justin Alvaradocali (285).
Christian placed third last season at 152, with many believing he could have been a state champion in other nearby weight classes and classifications. He has signed with Drury University. He lost in the state semifinals last season, 4-3, to a Mizzou signee who he had beaten earlier in the year.
“He’s a tough, hard-working kid. Hopefully all the young kids will follow his lead,” Roark said. “Through youth wrestling, he wasn’t the best. He’s worked his way into what he is now. He’s put a lot of work in over the summer with freestyle and Greco-Roman and gained a lot of experience with technicians to strengthen his arsenal.”
Cole Roark is a three-time state qualifier but has yet to medal at state. He’s a competitor, though, who plays baseball and took up golf this past summer.
“He just needs confidence,” Coach Roark said. “He just needs to know he’s as good as anybody in that weight bracket.”
Adkins did not place at state last year, but has hit the weight room regularly since, plus attended the Eiereman Elite Wrestling and Drury University camps.
“He’s pretty driven,” Roark said.
Henson won one of his three state matches last season.
“He’s one of those boys that didn’t medal, so he’s real hungry,” Roark said. “That’s his goal.”
Landen Smith also was 1-2 at state last year, despite a strong state ranking. He is ranked again coming into the season and is looking to compete in college, either in football or wrestling.
“He needs to make it happen at the state tournament, so that scholarships come his way,” Roark said.
The Perrymans are a wrestling family in Lebanon, so the Yellowjackets’ 106- and 113-pounders will be ones to watch. Joiner made the Missouri Junior National Team this past summer. Mussia was a two-time state champion in youth wrestling. Rosen lost in overtime at districts, missing a state berth by one match, and Ark also lost his bubble match.
Sleepers include Tayden Johnson, Andrew Dent, Terrell Mebruer, Cale Schmitz, Preston Ellingston, Gabriel Schiller and Logan Berry.
“There’s so many quality wrestlers in the room,” Roark said.
That includes the girls team.
It features defending state champion Quincy Glendenning (126), state runner-up Dream Cunningham (131) and state medalists Ashlynn Leochner (116) and Talora Frisbee (152).
“Glendenning is tough. She came up from the USA Wrestling program, so it’s nice when they’ve wrestled before,” Roark said. “And she was a state qualifier against the boys in USA Wrestling – same as Talora.”
“Cunningham enjoys practice. She wants to get and stays after,” Roark added.
The rest of the roster includes McKenzie Gomely (103), Emily Young and Rayley Sutton (110), Meadow Miller (116), Adeline Cottingin, Chloe Shearer and Kathryn Buckner (121), Rae White (131), Darby Neeley, Ashley Young and Taylor Johnson (136), Amy Anderson, Josie Denton and Bailey Joiner (143), Ariana Carrasquilla (152), Bailey Shockley, Leanna Christian and Shelby Davis (167), Carolyn Sterner (187) and MaKenna Durham and Marissa Martin at 235.
Roark anticipates about 30 girls on the roster, with several incoming freshmen who could earn varsity roles right away.
Incoming freshmen include Sutton, Cottongin, Taylor Johnson (136), Joiner (143) and Durham, who wrestled for the past five years in the local USA Wrestling kids club.
The state is taking the top four district finalists in each weight class this season. A year ago, it was only the top three, so keep an eye on Kailyn Rogers, who just missed out on a state bid.