By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The third annual Gem City Girls Scramble on Monday in Diamond featured at least 85 wrestlers from 18 different schools.
But the battle for first place came down to just two: Cassville and West Plains.
And at the end of the day it was the Wildcats celebrating another first-place finish after Cassville wrestlers won three weight classes and medaled in 10.
“It’s kind of been the story of their year this year,” said Cassville coach Nathan Fortner. “This will be the fourth tournament in a row the girls have placed first at.”
“I had high expectations for all of them and they all met them,” he said. “Going into the tournament they all wanted to win. It makes it pretty easy once we get here.”
Cassville’s Brandy Creason went unmatched at 102 pounds and earned first. Annie Moore (15-1) took first at 112 pounds, winning all four of her matches and pinning three opponents. And Kelsey Harris (19-1) was the champion at 117 pounds with a 5-0 effort that included three falls and a major decision.
Kailey Artherton (21-3) placed second at 122 pounds with a 4-1 day, Hailey Roark (15-5) took second at 127 pounds with a 4-1 day, Faith James (4-1) placed second at 137 pounds in her first action of the year and Ryleigh Burnette (9-2) was second at 174 pounds with a 3-1 effort.
Zoey Stanton placed fifth at 107 pounds, Breanna Gordon was fifth at 132 pounds and Taylor Glidewell was fifth at 195.
“They work hard in practice and it shows,” Fortner said. “They’re all young, too, so we’re bringing every single one of them back. We have no seniors. They’re a close group. They hang out together all the time at school and you notice it when they’re wrestling, they try and follow each other around and support each other. They’re just a fun group.”
Depth helps West Plains earn second
The Zizzers had just one individual champion on Monday – 122-pounder Natalie Stewart, who hiked her record to 26-2 with a perfect day. Stewart pinned her first four opponents – each in 1:23 or less – and beat Cassville’s Artherton 4-2 in the fifth and final round.
“This is her second year and she has incrementally grown and gotten better,” said West Plains assistant Chris Taylor. “She was tough and explosive.”
Even with just one champion, West Plains held a comfortable lead over Jay, Oklahoma most of the evening thanks in part to six others finishing third or better.
Gabrielle Voshell (2-1) placed second at 151 pounds, Kyia Weisbrod (20-7) was third at 112, Lianna Ward (20-11) finished third at 132, Lillien Ingram (8-4) was third at 137, Jade Martin (21-7) took third at 143 and Akasha Davis (11-11) placed third at 235.
“Kyia Weisbrod is continuing to get better and better,” Taylor said. “Some of our returning wrestlers were quarantined; 151 and 159 didn’t come with us, but Kyia Weisbrod brought it at 112. Jade Martin at 143 wrestled really tough.
“Lianna Ward medaled tonight and she keeps getting better and better,” he said.
Selena Housley (6th at 107), Ariana Richardson (7th at 117), Rayven Davis (5th at 127), Braelyn Christian (5th at 174) and Madison Easter (4th at 195) also medaled.
“Our girls wrestle tough,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a lot of first-year wrestlers, our program really grew this year. We’re still learning.”
Dan Taylor, the West Plains head coach, said he’s trying to get his wrestlers to understand the sport could lead to scholarship opportunities in the future.
“It’s another pathway for some of these kids that might not have had an opportunity,” he said. “The wrestling has been a blessing to West Plains for sure.”
“I just can’t say enough about all our girls top to bottom,” Chris said. “They keep getting better. The experienced girls from last year are helping our new girls.”
Six other schools have individual champions
Seneca was the only other school with multiple champions. Kirsten Bruegel improved to 12-0 with a 3-0 day at 151 pounds, and Isabella Renfro (10-4) went 4-0 with four pins at 174 pounds. Liberty Cornell (13-2) took second at 143 pounds and Britany Adcock (11-7) was third at 127.
Host Diamond entered Monday with just two wrestlers after the team’s third was injured. But Hallie Crisp (12-10) still provided a highlight, winning the 127-pound bracket. She was pinned by Cassville’s Hailey Roark in the third round, then came back and pinned Roark in 1:19 in the first-place match.
“Friday was a bad day for her; she came back this week and wrestled a girl she had to wrestle last week and lost to and today we beat them,” Diamond coach Bill Gray said. “She had a good weekend. My third girl got sick after the first round. We’re small but we had a good day.”
Buffalo had one champion with Skyler Maverick (20-3) going 5-0 at 132 pounds. She pinned all five opponents, and needed just 1:08 to beat her opponent in the championship. Jada Watson earned third for the team at 195 pounds.
Central’s Catherine Dutton (20-1) took the title at 195 pounds with a 5-0 record. She won five times by fall and pinned her first four opponents in less than a minute. Teammate Isabella Richardson placed fourth at 132 pounds.
Nevada had one champion: Claire Pritchett (22-1) who won twice by fall at 235 pounds. Taylor Thompson (14-15) placed third at 174 pounds.
Alexis Harris (13-3) won three times by fall to capture first place at 159 pounds for Reeds Spring.
Monett had three third-place finishers on Monday. Abigail Jastal (16-3) placed third at 117 pounds, Brooke Bluel (11-8) was third at 122 and Emily Hinojosa, Martinez (6-8) was third at 159 pounds.
Glendale’s Taidym Harden (4-1) shook off a first-round loss with four-straight wins to place second at 107 pounds.
Kickapoo’s Mia Daugherty (11-6) earned fifth place at 143 pounds.
Carl Junction’s Shiloh Sluder (2-3) finished sixth at 117 pounds.
Webb City had three wrestlers take fourth place: Zailey Clemons at 107 pounds, Mirriam Garcia at 151 and Morgan Brannon at 159.
West Plains 148
Jay, Okla. 134.5
Columbus, Kan. 102
Reeds Spring 26
Grove, Okla. 24
El Dorado Springs 22
Webb City 21
Carl Junction 9
West Plains JV 9