By Pat Dailey (for O-Zone)
Ethan Smith enjoyed the rare distinction of winning a state championship before collecting his first medal at Kinloch Tournament.
A year ago, Smith became Buffalo’s first state champ, claiming the Class 2 113-pound title. But he endured a woeful showing at Springfield Parkview’s mid-season tourney, failing to finish in the top six. He gained redemption Saturday by breezing to the 138-pound championship in the 50th version of the Kinloch Tournament.
“It was a rough weekend for me last year,” Smith said. “i lost three matches in a row. I definitely like winning a lot more than losing.”
Smith improved to 27-0 by beating Jefferson City Helias’ Zack Carr (24-9) 6-4 in the final round. They also faced each other in prelims Friday.
“We had a good match (Friday), too, so i knew what I was getting into in the final, that he was a good, solid wrestler,” Smith said. “i’s always good when you know how they wrestle, but they know you wrestle, too.”
Smith’s rare distinction this year has been the 25-pound jump in weight he’s made. He intends to stay at 138 throughout the season.
“A lot of people have asked me about gaining all that weight,” he said. “I’m not as quick. But I am stronger,. There have been a couple kids who have been stronger than me. But most the kids I’ve wrestled against I’ve been fine.
“I wrestled at 132 at a tournament a couple of weeks ago, but have wrestled most of the year at 138.
Thanks to its four individual champs, Rolla claimed the team title with 384 points. Ozark was second with 357. The top four teams were separated by 23 points.
“It was tight and it was fun,” Rolla coach Marty Hauck said. “It was great to see our kids compete.”
For the Bulldogs, it is their second Kinloch championship. They also took the team title in 1993.
“Last year, we came up short when Buffalo beat us in the (medals) round,” Hauck said. “It was important to our guys to finish this year.
“We got on a roll and good things happened. We’ve been wrestling well all year. They’ve put the time in the (practice) room and the effort has been there. They did a great job this whole weekend.”
Rolla gained titles in two of the premier matchups of the day. Nathan Pullan (26-0) was victorious 9-3 at 120 opposite McDonald County’s Oscar Ortiz (22-2) and Zach Fennell (23-0) won 1-0 at 126 versus McDonald County’s Jakob Gerow (22-1).
For Fennell, it was sweet revenge. He lost 6-0 to Gerow in a fifth-place match at State last season.
“I’ve been out to beat him since then,” Fennell said. “He’s a great wrestler and a great kid. It’s awesome to beat him, To beat these kids that have beaten me in the past, it shows all the work I’ve put in has paid off. Outworking kids has been the difference.”
Fennell entered the tourney hoping he and Gerow would face each other in the final.
“I was thinking, ‘These matchups are work for and why I come to these tournaments,’” he said. :”I was super pumped.
“It’s awesome to be undefeated. There is pressure. But it’s a good pressure. It’s motivation.”
Pullman and Ortiz renewed what has been a rivalry of five years.
“I’ve been wrestling him since we were in kids club,” Pullman said. “When we started out wrestling, he was getting the best of me. As we’ve progressed, I’ve started to get him.
“We just saw each other at Neosho recently and he was tough again today. Wearing him out was good for me today. Once I got to that point, I could put my legs in and turn him a little easier.”
Rolla also had champions in Anthony Sederburg (106) and Coleman Brainard (145). Sederburg outlasted Ozark’s Clayton Moison 16-10 in the final round and Brainard downed Rogersville’s Lucas Campbell 8-3.
Ozark received championships from Nikki Gladkov (160) and Jace Gorn (285). Gladkov picked up an 8-0 win against Rogers Heritage’s Chance McCrary in the final round and Gorn (23-3) edged Warrensburg’s Tanner Karnes 3-1.
It’s Gladkov’s first Kinloch championship and one he’ll relish for a while.
“I love wrestling at this tournament, right in my back yard,” he said.
Gladkov (31-1) appeared on the verge of gaining a pin against McCrary as time ran out.
“I noticed at the end he started slacking, so I tried to take advantage,” Gladkov said. “I was a little tired, too. For the last couple of days, I’ve been sick. But I tried to perform well and do what I had to do to win. I got the gold.
“I’m focused on the mission.”
Marshfield 195-pounder Deryl Vannostrand (23-2) recorded only the second pin in championship matches and was the quickest to do so. He put Rogers Heritage’s Charlie March on his back in 1:38.
Vannostrand has come a long way since going 17-26 as a freshman. He was 41-9 last season, but is still seeking his first trip to State.
“I had good competitors in my District and they were better than me last year,” he said. “But I’ve worked on my offense this year and created an offense in which I can get more points.”
Last year, Vannostrand lost 5-4 to former Ozark wrestler Hunter Pyle in a final at the Kinloch Tournament. Pyle is now a senior at Staley.
“Honestly I miss him,” Vannostrand said. “He was a good competitor.”
Rogersville’s Gabe Brandenburg (113) won gold as a freshman. He defeated Jackson’s Alec Bailey 5-2 in the final round to up his record to 12-0.