Neosho wrestling wins COC tournament behind five individual champions

By Scott Vanscoy (For

The Central Ozark Conference held its wrestling tournament on Saturday in Ozark, and Neosho came away with the team victory with a solid 45-point lead over rival Willard. Nixa came in third, with Carthage placing fourth. Neosho head coach Jeremy Phillips was pleased with his team’s efforts but saw many areas they need to work on.

“It’s a stepping stone for us to be where we want to be in the end, for sure,” said Phillips. “There are a lot of things we can take away from this tournament, both positives and things we obviously see that we’ve got to work on. That’s the biggest thing, pick the things that we are still not fundamentally sound on and get to the practice room and get to work. It’s as simple as that. These kids will buy in and believe in the process of the next two weeks and then we’ll be where we need to be. There’s never any secrets, we’ve just got work to do. We’ve got to build, we can’t stay where we’re at or we won’t be where we want to be in the end. That’s the key, find your peak performance when it matters most.”

Neosho had five wrestlers finish on the top step of the podium and four others that placed in the top three. Neosho received two pin falls from sophomores, Drayke Perry (182) and Cayden Auch (126), to help with their team win.

“I wanted to just dominate every position,” said Perry. “I do the same stuff I always practice, my hand fighting, moving on my feet, breaking their position. Before state, I want to work on my hand fighting, for sure, win on pinning combinations.”

“I wanted to go in and dominate the match in every position,” said Auch. “I want to work on my hand fighting and my pressure on top.”

Republic’s lone winner on the night was junior Jonathan O’Connell (138). O’Connell had lost in the finals the past two years and was looking for redemption.

“Really, I was just focused on being aggressive and controlling the pace of the match,” said O’Connell. “I was very focused on getting that win. I finally got my chance for a win and I took it. It feels pretty good. I found out right after my match that I was the first-ever Republic COC champ so that feels really good.”


Carthage had two winners in the heavier weights, with juniors Kale Schrader (220) and Brener Ocana (285). Ocana pinned his opponent, Tyler Huffman of Carl Junction, in the final match of the night.

“It’s something that you always dream of,” said Ocana. “Coming here, the expectation is to do big and once you get here, it pays off. It’s a long day of wrestling. If you get injured you have to fight through it, I was fighting a little bit of back pain, but you just fight through it.”

Schrader saw his record run to 46-0 as he disposed of every opponent on the night.

“I haven’t lost yet this year and there’s always a little bit of pressure but you’ve got to go out there and wrestle,” said Schrader. “Either you’re going to win or he’s going to win, it’s whoever is the better wrestler. I think, all around, I’ve been wrestling pretty good and I think I’m getting toward the better part of my wrestling, which is good because we are getting late in the season. Everyone brings their best.”

Webb City’s lone winner on the evening was sophomore Roger Carranco (160), who had a large contingent cheering him on in his last match. His confidence was boosted with today’s win.

“Being COC champion just shows me how good I am and how much I’ve actually progressed,” said Carranco. “I definitely need to work on moving on bottom and working on top.”

Nixa’s young Eagles were led to the top step of the podium by two sophomores and a freshman, giving them a third place finish. Freshman Cole Crahan (120), in his first year of varsity wrestling.

“I wanted to wrestle smarter this tournament,” said Crahan. “I’m going to continue to work on my technique before State; my stand ups, I need to work on those. Winning the COC championship, it’s really strange.”

Sophomore Deagan Fugitt (113) is looking forward to the upcoming state tournament.

“I didn’t want to give up easy takedowns,” said Fugitt. “I wanted to work him and get my own takedowns, just wrestle smart. I worked the two on one and then I brought him down to the mat and got my points. For upcoming state I need to keep working on my footwork, getting better at hitting more moves on my feet.”

In the match of the night, second seeded sophomore Kolyn Eli (145) of Nixa defeated No. 1 seed Braxton Barnes of Neosho. Barnes led the match, 13-0, and almost had Eli pinned before Eli mounted a comeback. Eli got the score to 13-7 with seconds left to go in the match. Eli caught Barnes in a cradle and rolled him up in a pin with less than 15 seconds left in the match, giving Eli the comeback win.

“I was really excited to beat him,” said Eli. “There was like 15 seconds left and I banana splitted him and got a pin. As soon as I pinned him, as soon as the ref slammed the mat, so much adrenalin rushed through me my heart felt like it was about to go out of my chest, it was just so exciting. It feels dang good – it feels amazing.”

Nixa head coach Dustin Martin was very happy with his team’s third place finish, having finished fourth or fifth the last few years.

“We figured Neosho is probably a little ahead of us, on paper, and we thought we’d be competitive for maybe that second or third place spot,” said Martin. “We were about 30 points behind Willard for third, we were right there. We had two kids that had to get set out for medical reasons the first round and you look at those points and that probably puts us right in there for second place if those kids had been able to continue. We’re happy coming out of here with third place.”

Martin was happy with his team’s achievements as well as Eli’s perseverance in his match.

“Kolyn Eli, he’s in a pretty tough weight class with the Neosho kid who’s a quality wrestler and definitely the favorite coming into it,” said Martin. “Kolyn was in a spot where he was down 13 points at one point and really, sitting in the corner, I thought we were probably done. He was very close to being pinned but he was able to fight that off, put the kid in trouble and come back and make it within 6 points. Then at the very end he was able to pull out a move to finish the match off. It was really a testament of just not quitting on himself. Kolyn was in a spot where he could have probably put his head down and been done, but hats off to him for finishing off the tournament.”

Team runner-up Willard had two champions in Christian Finley (106) and Jed Brandon (170).

Team Scores

1 Neosho 317.0
2 Willard 271.5
3 Nixa 237.0
4 Carthage 210.5
5 Carl Junction 197.0
6 Webb City 190.0
7 Ozark 128.0
8 Republic 99.5
9 Branson 95.0
10 Joplin 94.0


• 1st Place – Christian Finley of Willard
• 2nd Place – Kyler Carter of Webb City
• 3rd Place – Peyton Moore of Nixa

1st Place Match
• Christian Finley (Willard) 41-2, So. over Kyler Carter (Webb City) 34-2, Jr. (Fall 4:58)
3rd Place Match
• Peyton Moore (Nixa) 36-9, Fr. over Landon Kivett (Neosho) 31-12, So. (Fall 1:32)


• 1st Place – Deagan Fugitt of Nixa
• 2nd Place – Michael Finley of Willard
• 3rd Place – Hayden Crane of Neosho

1st Place Match
• Deagan Fugitt (Nixa) 39-7, So. over Michael Finley (Willard) 36-7, Jr. (Dec 5-3)
3rd Place Match
• Hayden Crane (Neosho) 24-15, Fr. over Wyatt Snyder (Ozark) 37-11, Jr. (Dec 5-0)


• 1st Place – Cole Crahan of Nixa
• 2nd Place – Clayton Moison of Ozark
• 3rd Place – Christian Cartright of Branson

1st Place Match
• Cole Crahan (Nixa) 29-16, Fr. over Clayton Moison (Ozark) 29-11, So. (Dec 4-2)
3rd Place Match
• Christian Cartright (Branson) 34-9, Jr. over Gabriel Selby (Neosho) 25-14, Fr. (Dec 5-4)


• 1st Place – Cayden Auch of Neosho
• 2nd Place – Timothy Stevens of Willard
• 3rd Place – Josh Copher of Webb City

1st Place Match
• Cayden Auch (Neosho) 23-1, So. over Timothy Stevens (Willard) 29-14, So. (Fall 0:46)
3rd Place Match
• Josh Copher (Webb City) 34-7, Jr. over Elijah Maskrod (Ozark) 29-17, So. (Fall 0:39)


• 1st Place – Kolton Sanders of Neosho
• 2nd Place – Michael Taylor of Republic
• 3rd Place – Holden Hughes of Carl Junction

1st Place Match
• Kolton Sanders (Neosho) 42-5, Jr. over Michael Taylor (Republic) 27-6, Sr. (Dec 7-2)
3rd Place Match
• Holden Hughes (Carl Junction) 18-7, Sr. over Jonah Peters (Willard) 24-20, Sr. (Fall 5:24)


• 1st Place – Jonathan O`Connell of Republic
• 2nd Place – Caden Lorenz of Branson
• 3rd Place – Bret Camerer of Neosho

1st Place Match
• Jonathan O`Connell (Republic) 25-1, Jr. over Caden Lorenz (Branson) 27-11, Jr. (MD 12-0)
3rd Place Match
• Bret Camerer (Neosho) 14-9, Jr. over Ethan Shepherd (Nixa) 22-17, Jr. (Dec 9-2)


• 1st Place – Kolyn Eli of Nixa
• 2nd Place – Braxton Barnes of Neosho
• 3rd Place – Ryder Heimbach of Willard

1st Place Match
• Kolyn Eli (Nixa) 34-12, So. over Braxton Barnes (Neosho) 43-4, Sr. (Fall 5:54)
3rd Place Match
• Ryder Heimbach (Willard) 32-10, So. over Brayden Williams (Joplin) 21-11, Sr. (Fall 1:57)


• 1st Place – Alec Rothman of Neosho
• 2nd Place – Tallon Heimbach of Willard
• 3rd Place – Kelten Campbell of Carthage

1st Place Match
• Alec Rothman (Neosho) 42-6, Sr. over Tallon Heimbach (Willard) 37-7, Sr. (Fall 2:39)
3rd Place Match
• Kelten Campbell (Carthage) 22-12, Jr. over Kale Conway (Ozark) 21-23, Jr. (Fall 2:19)


• 1st Place – Roger Carranco of Webb City
• 2nd Place – Trulyn Kendrick of Carthage
• 3rd Place – Isiac Shields of Carl Junction

1st Place Match
• Roger Carranco (Webb City) 23-7, So. over Trulyn Kendrick (Carthage) 28-18, Jr. (Fall 5:37)
3rd Place Match
• Isiac Shields (Carl Junction) 31-10, Jr. over Keaton Sanders (Neosho) 25-16, Jr. (Fall 2:26)


• 1st Place – Jed Brandon of Willard
• 2nd Place – Collin Andrews of Branson
• 3rd Place – Jacob Ott of Webb City

1st Place Match
• Jed Brandon (Willard) 33-3, Jr. over Collin Andrews (Branson) 31-11, Sr. (Dec 3-0)
3rd Place Match
• Jacob Ott (Webb City) 11-7, So. over Kobe Maxwell (Carl Junction) 25-16, Sr. (Fall 5:19)


• 1st Place – Drayke Perry of Neosho
• 2nd Place – Marek Davis of Nixa
• 3rd Place – Gibson Sweet of Webb City

1st Place Match
• Drayke Perry (Neosho) 27-6, So. over Marek Davis (Nixa) 36-8, So. (Fall 1:26)
3rd Place Match
• Gibson Sweet (Webb City) 22-12, Sr. over Noah Southern (Carl Junction) 23-18, So. (Dec 8-3)


• 1st Place – Caleb Elliot of Neosho
• 2nd Place – Jesse Cassatt of Carl Junction
• 3rd Place – DeSean Downs of Nixa

1st Place Match
• Caleb Elliot (Neosho) 30-9, So. over Jesse Cassatt (Carl Junction) 33-7, So. (Fall 4:40)
3rd Place Match
• DeSean Downs (Nixa) 24-16, Jr. over Colton Winder (Carthage) 13-11, Sr. (Fall 0:50)


• 1st Place – Kale Schrader of Carthage
• 2nd Place – Jaydn Withrow of Joplin
• 3rd Place – Zane Persinger of Neosho

1st Place Match
• Kale Schrader (Carthage) 46-0, Jr. over Jaydn Withrow (Joplin) 21-4, Sr. (Dec 6-1)
3rd Place Match
• Zane Persinger (Neosho) 33-11, Jr. over Matt Miller (Webb City) 22-11, Sr. (Fall 4:39)


• 1st Place – Brener Ocana of Carthage
• 2nd Place – Tyler Huffman of Carl Junction
• 3rd Place – Austin Webb of Willard

1st Place Match
• Brener Ocana (Carthage) 39-9, Jr. over Tyler Huffman (Carl Junction) 26-9, Sr. (Fall 2:20)
3rd Place Match
• Austin Webb (Willard) 25-17, Jr. over Alex Curry (Joplin) 2-3, So. (Fall 1:18)

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