By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
NEOSHO, Mo. – With a dozen state placers in the lineups and both teams coming off state championships a year ago, Thursday’s wrestling dual between Monett and Neosho was a marquee matchup any way you look at it.
Monett, the defending Class 2 champion and Neosho, the Class 3 winner, sported four state champions and three runners up. The Cubs and Wildcats were a combined 17-1 in duals this season.
And the night mostly lived up to the hype. Neosho trailed by 12 points before rattling off five-straight wins by fall to pull away for a 46-22 victory.
“That was the dual I anticipated with Monett,” Neosho coach Jeremy Phillips said. “They’re a quality program, coached very well. Disciplined, tough, hardworking kids and so we knew we had a fight in front of us.”
Thursday’s triangular, which also included Marshfield, was a bounce-back night for the Wildcats, who lost at Collinsville, Oklahoma on Tuesday.
“We could have kept our heads down but a little dose of humility allowed us to come back to practice on Wednesday and they listened to my words and had a fire within that allowed us to have probably one of the best practices we’ve had in two years to be honest,” Phillips said. “Guys were clicking on all cylinders and they were listening. It was the whole room; our JV kids, our girls, our guys. They decided they wanted to put more in so they could get more out and that’s ultimately I think what allowed us to have the night we had tonight and win a tough dual against a tough team in Monett.”
Neosho 46, Monett 22
Thursday’s nightcap was a back-and-forth affair until late. Neosho’s Hayden Crane won by major decision, 10-0, against Rhyn Withnell in the opener at 120 pounds, but Monett’s Matthew Bahl, a defending state champion, knocked off Eli Zar 3-0 at 126 pounds.
Neosho’s Kolton Sanders beat Karter Brink, another state champion, 7-3 at 132 pounds, but the Cubs bounced back at 138 when Joseph Semerad – yet another state winner – beat Eric Holt by major decision, 12-1.
With the dual tied at 7 Monett turned to 145-pounder Elias Barrientos, a state runner up, who pinned Neosho’s Noah Reiboldt. The Wildcats got three points at 152 pounds with two-time champion Cayden Auch edging Gunnar Bradley 6-2.
Monett added two more wins when Corbin McCully beat Cade Daniel 8-1 at 160 pounds, and the Wildcats were open at 170 against Ethan Umfleet. That gave the Cubs a 22-10 lead.
But Neosho came roaring back and pinned five-straight opponents. Keaton Sanders got things going with a last-second pin of Joe Korasick in 5:50 at 182 pounds. The pair were deadlocked at 1 until that point.
Jeremiah Larson needed just 11 seconds to pin JR Villa at 195, Drayke Perry took 19 seconds to pin Alex Misener at 220, Zane Persinger pinned Harrison Merriman at 285 and then Raymond Hembree pinned Karey Anderson at 106 pounds.
Monett was open at 113.
“I knew we had an uphill battle,” said Monett coach Darryl Bradley. “They’ve got guys, they’re just loaded. There’s no hiding. At 82 we battled tough, I mean Joe Korasick was 1-1 and got pinned with 12 seconds left. He’s kind of been on a streak where he needed some confidence and that match right there is going to give him some confidence to go with a state qualifier. At 95 we were outmatched, a state placer there against a kid who’s only wrestled a couple years and then 220 I’m throwing a first-year kid out there. At heavyweight they kind of caught us out of position. Hats off to them, he’s a state runner up against a state placer. I love our aggressiveness, we just got caught. That stuff happens but we can build a lot off how we wrestled tonight.”
Monett 44, Marshfield 36
The Cubs appeared to be on their way to a lopsided win when Marshfield won four-straight late to make things interesting.
Monett led 38-12 after Marshfield’s Will Snider was forced to forfeit due to injury at 160 pounds.
After that, Marshfield’s Elijah Horne pinned Corbin McCully in 2:41 at 170 pounds, Marshfield’s Garrett Cantrell pinned Joe Korasick in 51 seconds at 182 pounds, Marshfield’s Daylon Kanengieter pinned JR Villa in 41 seconds at 195 and Marshfield’s Eli Steffen pinned Alex Misener in 3:17 at 220 pounds.
Suddenly the Cubs’ lead was down to two points, 38-36.
But Monett heavyweight Harrison Merriman needed just 40 seconds to pin Marshfield’s Tyler Brussow to preserve the win for the Cubs.
“It’s all about matchups,” Bradley said.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle there with some of those weight classes but our guys persevered and ended up getting the victory at heavyweight to kind of seal the day,” he said. “Our strength obviously is between, starting at 126 and going up to 160 tonight and our heavyweights’ a state placer so we knew it was about matchups but we knew we had our work cut out for us. I wish we would have wrestled the way we did against Neosho against Marshfield. I didn’t think our intensity was there.”
Marshfield forfeited at 106 and Monett forfeited at 113. Marshfield’s Joseph Martin won by fall in four minutes at 120, Monett’s Bahl won by fall at 126, Brink won by fall in 1:39 at 132, Monett’s Semerad won by fall in 3:33 at 138, Monett’s Barrientos won 5-0 at 145, and Monett’s Bradley won by technical fall at 152.
“I’m proud of how our guys down low fought,” said Marshfield coach Matt Holt. “We didn’t give up a couple pins which helped us get back in up at the top. That’s kind of been how we’ve been. We’re young down low and when you get to the middle you hit our seniors and we’ve also got some guys with varsity experience up top. We’re just young down low. They’re still wrestling well.”
Neosho 56, Marshfield 19
This one was all Wildcats.
Neosho opened the dual with 29-straight points and never looked back.
The Wildcats won at 106 (Marshfield open), 113 (Hembree over Mynatt 15-0), 120 (Kivett over Martin by fall in 2:58), 126 (Zar over Dockery by fall in 56 seconds), 132 (Sanders over Young by fall in 2:42), and 138 (Holt over Brooks by fall in 55 seconds).
Marshfield claimed 145, 152 and 160 with Leppert pinning Kivett in 1:52, Ragsdale beating Reiboldt 12-7 and Stevens beating Daniel 16-5. The Jays also won at 195 where Neosho was open.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, won by fall with Sanders beating Horne at 170, Larson beating Cantrell at 182, Perry beating Steffen at 220 and Persinger beating Brussow at 285.
“They’re a quality team and we picked them up a few years ago because they have some tough kids we like to see before we get to the state tournament and they think the same,” Phillips said. “It’s quality competition that allows us to see where we’re at and see what we need to do to get better.”
“We put this on the schedule two years for a reason,” Holt said. “It’s not going to do us any good to go and beat up on lesser schools. We’ve got to wrestle schools like this to see where we’re at and our kids can learn where they need to be.” Overall I’m proud of the effort the kids gave. We’d like to win a few more than we did obviously but they fought hard.”
Neosho finished the night 11-1 in duals, Monett is now 9-1 and Marshfield fell to 7-5.