The sting of an overtime loss last year in the state finals stuck with Seneca’s Will Roark. On Saturday night, he added a new, much more pleasant state memory.
Roark got a second-period pin over Carrolton’s Jacob O’Neal to claim the gold medal in Class 1’s 120-pound division at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
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A year ago as a freshman, Roark suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss in the Class 2 113-pound title bout.
“I’ve been waiting for this all year,” Roark said. “The loss last year… I think it was actually a good thing. I started working hard this past summer and offseason. It paid off.”
O’Neal, a senior, entered the tournament with a 42-1 record. Roark (50-1) led 2-0 before making a decisive move to score the second-round pin.
“The head rip was right there, so I just ripped it and got the pin,” Roark said.
Seneca coach Jeff Sill, a state champion wrestler at Carl Junction during his high school career, was glad to see Roark get redemption.
“Last year, it was a tough situation because we came off the mat knowing we were the better wrestler,” Sill said. “We just didn’t get our hand raised.”
The Indians had four other wrestlers medal, including Cole Lankford with a third-place finish at 126.
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“I know Cole was disappointed because he wanted to be in the finals wrestling for a state championship,” Sill said. “As a senior, coming back through and getting third is a big thing. It shows he has a lot of pride and character in himself.”
Freshmen Quentin Cotten (113) and Jesse Rhoades (132) placed sixth in their weight classes. Jalen Skaggs (160) took fourth.
Roark is Seneca’s first state champion since the Indians had three wrestlers win Class 1 gold in 2010.
Those medalists helped the Indians to a third-place team showing. Warsaw sophomore Marshall Wilson pinned Cotten in 44 seconds to take fifth place.
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Class 1 team scores
1. Whitfield 126.0 2. Brookfield 109.5 3. Seneca 96.0 4. Plattsburg 93.0 5. Lawson 87.0 6. Herculaneum 85.0 7. Lathrop 78.0 8. Knob Noster 76.5 9. Blair Oaks 73.0 10. Mid-Buchanan 68.5