By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Daryl Bradley has been here before, as the coach of a Monett High School wrestling team coming off a state championship. What the following year led to likely will serve as a motivational speech early this season.
It’s good and should keep the bar set high.
“In 2008, we won a state title with several to almost all our points returning. In 2009 we were the state runner-up and that was a little disappointing. I don’t want this to happen to this group,” Bradley said. “We know that we have target on our backs and we will get everyone’s best effort night in and night out.”
Monett won the Class 2 state championship a year ago and returns 12 starters, including nine state qualifiers. Among them are seven state medalists, with state champions in senior Karter Brink, junior Matthew Bahl and senior Joey Semerad and Elias Barrientos a state runner-up.
The projected roster includes sophomores Karey Anderson (106) and Ty McCulley (113), open at 120 and then Brink, Bahl and Semerad either in the 126-, 132- or 138-pound weight classes.
From there, look for Barrientos (145), senior Gunnar Bradley (152), sophomore Ethan Umfleet (160), junior Joe Korasick (170), junior Dru Guinn (182), Ray Villalta at 220 and Harrison Merriman at 285. Senior Wesley Merriman, a two-time state qualifier, was projected at 195 but likely will miss the season because of an injury. Corbin McCully was 21-22 last year and could be at 145.
Bradley especially noted these guys:
Brink is a two-time state champion and was 48-6 last season. Bahl is 89-13 overall in his career, while Semerad is two-time state champion and a state runner-up with a 146-13 career record. Barrientos was a state runner-up to Rogersville’s Jay Strausbaugh last season.
Bradley is a three-time state medalist, Umfleet placed third as a freshman, Villalta was 30-8, and Harrison Merriman was sixth at state last year. Villalta and Harrison Merriman were All-Americans at a national tournament last year.
“All these individuals are capable to win an individual state title,” Bradley said, noting several competed at the NHSCAA High School Nationals last March in Virginia. “All these guys are multi-sport athletes and live very busy lifestyles. We encourage them to participate in other things as long as they are competing.”
Bradley anticipates that a few recent junior varsity and incoming freshmen could compete on a nightly basis. Incoming freshmen include Matthew Burdett, Kellar Snodgrass, Rhyn Withnell and Fernando Martinez as well as Josh Harvey, Caleb Hoffman, Hunter Laning and Davin Madrid.
“I want to see us continue to work hard in the room, we did a great job of drilling last season,” Bradley said. “Our younger guys are figuring out how to drill and it has paid off. I want this to continue. Our goals are to win the Big 8 conference title, district and then the state title.”
One stop in the schedule includes the Kansas City Stampede. The Cubs had one placer, Brink at eighth, in the top eight a year ago.
“We did have seven in the top 16, but wins on the second date of that tournament were hard to come by,” Bradley said. “I want to compete better at that tournament. I believe that we will. We know what to expect now. This tournament will be the toughest tournament for us all season.”
On the girls side, Monett features junior Abby Jastal (116), senior Janeth Quinones (152), junior Jewelia Wiulloughby (167), Kinzey Stellwagen (187). Jastal was 20-9 and fourth at the district tournament. Quinones was 21-11 and won a match at state after placing third at districts. Wiulloughby ended her season with five wins in nine matches. Stellwagen was 9-7.
“This is a great group of girls,” Bradley said. “We are excited to have more team members join this year. We will see who that is. We are excited to be one of the first area programs to have its own girls coach (Justin Semerad). Our Board of Education and administration are committed to helping this program succeed.”
Assistants are Ben Honensee, Dakota Greenhaw, Kedric Brink and Garret Bradley. They were multiple state qualifiers, with Hohensee a 2006 state champion, a two-time All-American at Labette (Kan.) juco and an NCAA Division II qualifier at Nebraska-Kearney. Greenhaw also was a 2006 state champion and wrestled at Northern Illinois.