By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
You can make a case that 182-pound junior Clay Wilson embodies the Marshfield High School wrestling program as it enters the winter.
Simply put, he’s hungry to get back to the state tournament. And who can blame him? Wilson was a Class 3 state qualifier who ended up missing part of the tournament after needing emergency surgery to remove his appendix. He spent the final two days in a Columbia hospital.
“That’s kind of where we’re at (as a program),” Marshfield coach Matt Holt said of a bevy of wrestlers who are on the cusp of solid years. “We don’t have any superstars, but we have potential.”
This marks Holt’s fourth season leading the Blue Jays program and he’s just as excited as when he started, partly because he had always dreamed of being a head football coach before finding that building a wrestling program was just as rewarding.
It looks like Holt is on the right track. The team returns 12 of its 14 varsity wrestlers from a year ago, when Marshfield was 17-6 in duals and had a number of guys fall just short of a state tournament berth.
The Blue Jays followed with trips to camps at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Central Methodist University.
“I’m definitely happy with the program we have,” Holt said. “We put a lot of work in over the summer.”
Wilson will move from 160 pounds to 182.
“We saw flashes of what he could do as a freshman,” Holt said. “Then two offseasons ago, we were wrestling in freestyle and showed him a little set-up move that worked. That carried him last year. And he was 10-0 at NEO.”
The projected lineup features seniors Nicholas Hill (120), Nicholas Taylor (138), Zach Curre (152), Klayton Brooks (160), Deryl VanNostrand (195) and Tristen Burton (285). Juniors are Raymond Moore (106), Jordon Irwin (170), Wilson and Travin Plemmons (220), while sophomores are Gabe Honeycutt (126), Leppert (132) and Will Snider (145). Look for Wyatt Wilsey, John Kadriu and Isaiah Ragsdale to compete, too.
Brooks has been part of the program for three years.
“He caught fire in the district tournament,” Holt said. “He put a state runner-up on his back. And with the rules now, if he’s not out of bounds, he could have pinned him.”
Irwin as a Greco-Roman qualifier for the Fargo tournament, while VanNostrand has been a COC champion the past two years and is two wins from this 100th career victory.
“I expect him to be on the podium (at state),” Holt said. “He was in the finals at the Kinloch Tournament, but he didn’t have the district tournament he wanted.”
Plemmons lost by a point in a three-overtime match in the district tournament bubble round. He was a COC champion as a sophomore. Taylor and Hill are returning starters.
To Holt, the emphasis is on preparing for the road ahead, not last year’s finish of each wrestler, regardless of the optimism it brought.
“I tell them, ‘You’re not one match from state anymore.’ You are 50 matches away,’” Holt said. “You can be satisfied.”