By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Think this will be a “rebuilding year” or a “down year” for the Lebanon Yellowjackets wrestling team?
Not a chance, if you ask coach Randy Roark.
“We’re ready with some hammers,” Roark said.
And that goes not only for the Lebanon boys wrestling team but the girls, too. In other words, expect the Yellowjackets to be competitive once again this winter just months after the boys finished as the Class 3 state runner-up and then graduated a state champion. The girls? They won state two years ago.
On the boys side, Lebanon is expecting about 80 on the roster – an encouraging sign for a program that upset defending champion Neosho in the district tournament. Neosho responded by winning state.
The roster includes returning state qualifiers in sophomore Quintin Long (106), senior Cole Patten (120), sophomore Davis Joiner (126), junior Bo Rosen (132), senior Elijah Arl (145), senior Colt Adkins (170) and senior Jake Hanson (182).
Adkins was a state runner-up at 170 last season and finished 37-5.
“He’s got goals to be a state champ,” Roark said. “He’s wrestled for years and years.”
By weight class, Lebanon has a lot of options. For instance:
Freshman Drew Boling and junior Kaden Hooper (106); freshman Canon Roark, sophomores Jonathon Perryman and Kaleb Nail and freshman Cole Drake (113): junior Andrew Dent, freshmen Tanner Villafane and Bryce Young and sophomore Bennie Joiner (126); sophomores Tayden Johnson, Logan Nichols and Ethan Appelberry (126); junior Josiah Perryman, sophomores Jason Evers, Landon Young and Shawn Early and freshman Austin Garrison (132).
In the middle weights, options include: freshmen Gavins Smith, Ryan Roman, Kaden Roberts and Trey Alley (138); sophomore Ryan Heinrichs, junior Samuel Davidson and freshmen Kieler Branch and Jamall Rogers (145); juniors Robert Garner and Wyatt Starns as well s sophomores Jarrett Sting, Preston Ellingston and freshman Dayln Clevenger (152); and sophomores Cade Mussia, Nathan Bartel, senior Gabe Schiller, sophomore Walker Smith and freshman Jordan Light (160).
In the upper weights, look for: juniors Connor Brand, Colt Heisz, sophomore Jacob Suha and freshman Sean King (170); seniors Ben Terry, Donavan Little, Treagan Yates and Corbin Knight (182); senior Presley Cottongim, junior Samuel Cooper, sophomore Joseph Creeb and freshman Rylan Archer (195); sophomore Jayden Hubler, freshman Gunnar Williams, junior Logan Berry, sophomore Kaden Brown and freshmen Owen Rodriguez and Daniel Green (220); and senior Garrett Childers, juniors Zach Smith and Zachary Rose, senior Hunter Henry and sophomore Adam Ginnings (285).
Joiner placed fourth at 113 last season and finished 24-18, despite starting the season on junior varsity.
“He’s the hardest-working kid we’ve got,” Roark said. “No kid on the team will deny it. He got (to state) because of effort.”
Henson placed fifth at state, finishing 30-9.
“He’s hard-nosed, a bruiser,” Roark said. “If you beat him, you might think you’ve lost the match.”
Long was 1-2 at state last year after finishing as a district runner-up.
“He’s quick, kind of dangerous,” Roark said. “He’s a kid who can catch you and pin you.”
Patten placed fifth and finished 37-9 last season.
“He’s kind of an unorthodox wrestler,” Roark said. “He’s 6 foot and 120 pounds.”
Rosen was 23-21 last season, winning one of three matches at the state tournament.
“He came through at the right time,” Roark said.
The group of freshmen have years of experience in the local USA Wrestling youth program.
“It sure is nice when they come in as freshman and they have seven to eight years of experience,” Roark said. “They can step up and be on varsity.”
Lebanon girls won the inaugural MSHSAA state girls wrestling tournament in 2019.
However, defending state champion Quincy Glendenning suffered a knee injury just before the district this past February. Her absence was a shock to the rest of the team, which did not place.
“I’m not sure what happened,” Roark said. “We kind of fell apart.”
Glendenning is back, this time at 125 pounds.
The rest of the girls roster could be: junior McKenzie Gormley and freshman Summer Yeggy (103), sophomores Adeline Cottongim and Sierra Dampier (110), freshman Bella Fisher and sophomore Raley Sutton (115), sophomore Bailey Joiner, junior Kayln Rogers, Rae White and Fisher (120), sophomore Darby Neely and freshman Halie Bartel (125), senior Dream Cunningham (135), sophomore Jasmine Alley and sophomore Taylor Johnson (142), junior Talora Frisbee, senior Addie Segebarth and junior Ashley Young (152), sophomore Ali Haiser (166); freshman Mariyah Brumley, junior Marissa Martin and sophomore Haven Hicks (187); and sophomore Makenna Lucas (235).
Cunningham is a two-time state medalist. Joiner was 39-9 last year and won a state match. Bartel competed in boys tournaments in USA Wrestling. Talora Fisher is a two-time state qualifier.
Lebanon is taking a lot of COVID precautions, too. The team can fit five mats in its main room, but will use two mats each in a junior high room and another room on campus.
“We’ve got a lot of places to spread out,” Roark said.