By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
A change of plans led to a first-place finish for the Carthage wrestling team on Saturday.
The Tigers were supposed to be wrestling in the Excelsior Springs tournament, but when that was canceled with wintry weather in the forecast, head coach Kenny Brown scrambled for a replacement.
He found one in the Monett tournament, and by Saturday evening Carthage was celebrating a 10-point win over the host Cubs.
“About 10 o’clock (Friday) morning I called Darryl Bradley thinking maybe they would have some openings and they did so we were able to get into this one,” Brown said. “We really needed a tournament bad.”
Carthage scored 300.5 points and beat the only other Central Ozark Conference school there – Willard – by nearly 60.
The tournament field included 10 varsity teams, down from the 16 originally scheduled. Branson, Reeds Spring and Webb City were among those who canceled.
“It definitely worked out,” Brown said. “We walked away with a first place but more than that we got into a tournament with really good competition. Really pushed our boys. We went third period with a lot of kids. That’s really going to help our conditioning which is where we were hurting a little bit against Ozark.”
The Tigers had just one first-place finisher – Kale Schrader – but had nine other medalists who helped fend off the Cubs.
Schrader pinned his first four opponents, each of them in 1:33 or less, and beat Bolivar’s Drayton Huchteman by major decision (15-0) in the first-place match at 220 pounds.
The senior is now 15-0 this year after going 54-0 last year and winning the Class 4 title at 220 pounds.
Carlos Reyes (113), Tanner Russow (120), Selvin Estrada (126) and Luke Gall (170) each advanced to their respective championship matches and finished as runners up.
Estrada (16-7) lost by fall in 1:20 to Monett’s Matthew Bahl, a defending state champion who’s been to the finals two-straight years. Gall, a freshman, suffered his first loss of the year after losing by fall in 5:30 to Bolivar senior Hayden Burks, another defending state champion. Gall is now 21-1.
Russow’s loss came against Willard’s Christian Finley, a Class 3 runner-up at state last year.
Other Carthage medalists were Kip Castor (16-4) who placed third at 106, Dagan Sappington (16-5) who took fourth at 132, Andrew Holden (2-3) who placed fourth at 152, Kelten Campbell (20-3) who took third at 160 and Obed Gonzalez (4-3) who was fourth at 182.
“We are very solid up and down,” Brown said. “We don’t have a lot of holes. We’ve got some very talented wrestlers and we had five or six in the finals going for first. We didn’t win all those but it is what it is. We just have a solid lineup. When it comes to duals that’s going to help us. Tournaments it’s a little different story but we were able to still hold on.”
Strausbaugh wins highlight match at 138
All eyes were on mat 3 in the far corner when Rogersville senior Jay Strausbaugh met Monett senior Joey Semerad in the 138-pound finals.
Strausbaugh is a two-time defending state champion and finished second as a freshman. Semerad won state as a freshman and sophomore and finished second last year after losing to Strausbaugh in the finals.
The bout lived up to the hype.
Semerad’s bid for revenge got off to a good start. He jumped out to a 5-1 lead before Strausbaugh came back in the second and third periods to win 7-5.
“It was pretty good considering the fact I came out pretty cold in the first period,” Strausbaugh said.
“First period it was all his offense so once I started working my offense I got the takedown right before the end so it was 5-3 going in and I got bottom and I got out and I worked and worked and finally took him down. Plus the extra caution that gave me a point was an extra cushion.”
Strausbaugh improved to 27-0 and Semerad fell to 20-4. The pair should wrestle again next Thursday when the teams join Carl Junction for a triangular.
Monett finishes with three champions
Matthew Bahl, Karter Brink and Gunnar Bradley each earned first place for the Cubs, and six others earned medals.
Bahl (18-4) pinned his first three opponents and blanked Willard’s Oscar Martinez 6-0 in the semifinals. He pinned Carthage’s Estrada in 1:20 in the 126-pound finals.
The junior Bahl isn’t the only defending champion on the roster.
Brink (18-4) is a two-time defending champion and a senior. He won by fall in 1:36 and 1:07, then pinned Carthage’s Sappington in 2:54 in the semifinals. He won 7-5 against Osage’s Ryan Schepers in the first-place match at 132 pounds.
At 152 pounds, senior Gunnar Bradley (20-4) won by fall in 1:17 and 1:09 and picked up a tech fall in 5:21 against Bolivar’s Jacob Matlock int he semifinals. Bradley pinned DeSoto’s Connor Zimmermann in 1:48 for the championship.
Semerad, of course, finished second at 138 pounds. Elias Barrientos (21-4) was second at 145, Ethan Umfleet (16-3) was second at 160, Joe Korasick (6-13) was third at 170, Raymond Villalta (13-4) was fourth at 220 and Harrison Merriman (16-7) was fourth at 285.
The Cubs finished with 290.5 points. Bradley, their head coach, said he was “very happy” with the team’s performance.
“It was good to see Corbin McCully place fifth, he was the backup 60 for me,” Bradley said. “He’s had a rough year. He was a kid going into the season we thought would do some good things and he’s struggled a little bit. He had a great day today. My 70 pounder got third, Joe Korasick. Really proud of him. He had a great night Thursday and came in here and continued that success. Even got my 220 pounder back today, Ray Villalta. He hadn’t wrestled since the Kansas City Stampede, had a tough bracket and he will get back to where he needs to be. Harrison Merriman at heavyweight got fourth. He’s still learning how to wrestle at that weight class. I’m very proud of the guys who won a championship. Of course Matthew Bahl went out there and got a first period pin, looked good doing it. He was dominant all day long. Karter Brink at 132 beat a really tough Schepers from Osage, a kid he wrestled in the district finals last year. And then Gunnar Bradley had a great day. He had bonus points with three pins on the day and a tech fall in the semi’s. He had a dominating day and definitely could have been considered for outstanding wrestler.”
Rogersville, Bolivar finish with multiple winners
Logan-Rogersville freshman Jacob Foster (19-9) won by fall in 3:42 over Willard’s Noah Agcaoili in the 106-pound finals. Strausbaugh won at 138.
At 113 pounds, Bolivar junior Canyon Cunningham (24-6) beat Carthage’s Carlos Reyes 8-2. Bolivar senior Austin Coons (20-5) won 3-1 over Monett’s Barrientos in the 145-pound finals. Burks took first at 170.
Willard junior Christian Finley (20-2) won by 10-2 major decision against Carthage’s Russow at 120 pounds.
Osage sophomore Chase Cordia (18-0) beat Monett’s Umfleet 9-8 in the 160 finals.
Moberly senior Tristan Morris (30-1) was the 182-pound champ with a fall in 3:03 over Osage’s Rudy Escobar.
Eldon senior Kaden Dillon (27-1) won in 5:43 over Willard’s Jed Brandon at 195 pounds.
DeSoto senior Landon Porter (19-0) was the heavyweight champion after pinning
Willard’s Carson Gehring in just 25 seconds.