By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
NEVADA, Mo. – As the 182-pound championship was being decided, a quick check of the team standings showed Monett leading Seneca by two points.
Four bouts later the Indians were celebrating a second-straight Big 8 Conference wrestling championship.
Seneca sent seven wrestlers to the finals and earned four falls and a major decision to outpace Monett and win the tournament Friday night in Nevada.
“Coach Bradley and his team, it’s some great opponents and we’ve had some battles over the years,” Seneca coach Jeff Sill said. “Coming in here and being able to walk out as champions really means a lot to us and says a lot about their program also. It was a great achievement for our team.”
The Indians and Cubs proved once again they’re the class of the Big 8. The same two teams finished at the top of the podium last season.
Seneca was 5-2 in championship bouts and finished with 10 all-conference wrestlers.
Brady Roark (35-1) pinned Logan Rogersville’s Jacob Foster in 1:45 in the 106-pound championship, Brayden Thiel (26-12) pinned McDonald County’s Eh Doh Say in 3:33 at 113 pounds and Kendon Pollard (35-5) pinned McDonald County’s Levi Smith in 2:32 at 120 pounds.
But as Zane Cotten wrestled Cassville’s Logan Tolbert for the 182-pound title, Monett had surged into the lead with a strong showing in the middle weights.
Cotten (33-3) earned a 14-5 major decision over Tolbert, though, and Trey Wilson (9-3) pinned Monett’s Junior Villa in 1:54 in the third-place match at 195.
At that point Seneca had sealed it.
For good measure Skyleer Commons (33-4) won by fall over Monett’s Raymond Villalta in 5:56 in the 220-pound title bout. Commons trailed 7-5 entering the third period before earning the late pin.
“We had to beat the kids we beat from Monett but also we had to score pin points,” Sill said. “Those bonus points really helped us out and we beat some kids who beat us before. Just doing the little things and taking it one match at a time.”
Earning all-conference honors for Seneca were Roark, Thiel, Pollard, Cotten and Commons, as well as Dane Napier (third) at 152, Gabriel Commons (second) at 160, Gabe Smith (third) at 170, Wilson (third) at 195 and Grant Durman (second) at heavyweight.
“I told the kids the bonus points were going to come,” Sill said. “If we’re wrestling somebody from Monett we can’t give up the pin and we have to secure the win but also if we can get the bonus points let’s get them.”
Monett actually finished with more conference champions as six different Cubs won their championship matches.
Matthew Bahl (31-5) won 3-0 over Rogersville’s Riley Williams at 126, Joseph Semerad (33-4) pinned Marshfield’s Braeden Brooks in 2:58 at 138, Elias Barrientos won 7-2 against Marshfield’s Ruger Leppert at 145, Gunnar Bradley (30-5) pinned McDonald County’s Jack Teague in 3:06 at 152, Ethan Umfleet (28-4) pinned Seneca’s Gabriel Commons in 3:44 at 160 and Harrison Merriman (28-8) won 7-0 over Seneca’s Durman at 285.
Also earning all-conference honors were Karter Brink (second) at 132 and Raymond Villalta (second) at 220.
“We just didn’t finish,” Monett’s Daryl Bradley said. “We had our opportunities at 95 and 220 and at 170 we didn’t particularly wrestle very well today. Second-seeded guy and ended up being fifth.”
“We knew it was going to be close coming in,” he said. “We’ve got some inexperienced guys in there that have got to step up and wrestle. We didn’t do that today. Seneca did.”
Marshfield had two champions and eight all-conference wrestlers.
Elijah Horne (27-10) won by fall in 3:40 at 170 pounds and Daylon Kanengieter (28-2) won by fall in 5:09 at 195 pounds.
Tommy Mynatt was third at 113, Damian Dockery was third at 120, Braeden Brooks was second at 138, Ruger Leppert was second at 145, Garrett Cantrell was third at 182 and Eli Steffen was third at 220.
Rogersville had four all-conference wrestlers and was led once again by Jay Strausbaugh (40-0) who won 4-3 in the first-place match at 132 pounds and was named Big 8 Wrestler of the Year.
Jacob Foster was second at 106 for the Wildcats, Riley Williams was second at 126 and Gage Meadors was second at 170.
McDonald County had six all-conference performers, including three who advanced to the finals and placed second: Eh Doh Say at 113, Levi Smith at 120 and Jack Teague at 152.
Cassville was led by Logan Tolbert’s second-place finish at 182 and Zach Coenen’s second-place finish at 195.
Reeds Spring’s Jakob McCracken (145) and Evan Wilson (160) each earned third.
Hollister’s Damien Pera was third at 126.
Logan Rogersville 223
McDonald County 187.5
Reeds Spring 103
Springfield Catholic 27