By Michael Smith (Special to Ozarksportszone.com)
Lebanon head girls wrestling coach Matt Neely had a lofty goal of sending all 13 of his wrestlers who competed in the Sectional 3 Tournament to state.
That goal was not met Saturday at Harrisonville High School, but the Yellowjackets pushed through eight competitors to state, the most of any team in Missouri.
“I thought we could have had a couple more, we just had a couple of bad matches,” Neely said. “I am pleased we got eight, but we could have done better.”
Cassville and Marshfield qualified the second most in the tournament with four each.
This was the first year that there has been a girls sectional tournament and only the top three finishers from each weight division qualified for state. The last two seasons, the top four qualified.
Three of the eight Lebanon qualifiers won their division which included Taylor Johnson (143 pounds), who is ranked No. 3 in her weight class according to the MissouriWrestling.com poll; Ali Haiser (159), ranked No. 2; and Mariyah Brumley (235), ranked No. 5.
Others to qualify for the Yellowjackets include Adeline Cottongim (third, 112), Kaylyn Rogers (second, 117), Halea Bartel (second, 122), Bailey Joiner (third, 127) and Quincey Glendenning (second, 132).
“Everyone wrestled the way they should’ve,” Neely said. “Adeline Cottongin beat someone she hadn’t beat before. Ali Haiser, the girl she beat in the finals, was ranked higher than her.”
Johnson defeated No. 6-ranked Raymore-Peculiar sophomore Brynn Elkins in the championship match 3-1. She got a late takedown in the first period and worked an escape in the second before riding out Elkins in the third.
“I might be the lightest in our weight class but I can take other girls on,” Johnson said. “My shots felt better than they have been and running that half (nelson) helped a lot.”
Her teammate, Haiser, won a marquee match against No. 3-ranked Knob Noster senior Kelsey Burden, getting a pin in 1:50.
“I was really nervous,” Haiser said. “I had a little doubt in my mind, but ultimately, I really wanted it,” Hasier said. “Hard work pays off.”
Brumley pinned Marshfield senior Leanna Merrill, ranked No. 6. In the second round of the championship match.
Here is a breakdown of other weight classes won by Southwest Missouri wrestlers:
102: No. 1 ranked Ashlyn Eli showed why she is the clear cut favorite to win her weight class at state this season. She spent a total of 2:55 in the circle, getting all first period pins, including a fall in 1:13 over No. 4-ranked Jasmine Alcantara of Raytown South.
“I tried to be heavy on her head,” Eli said of her 100th career win against Alcantara. “I grabbed her arm and then scooped her up and then pinned her.”
107: Monett senior Abigail Jastal, ranked No. 4, got pins in all three of her matches. She had her toughest match against Blue Springs South sophomore Gabby Hampton in the championship match. Jastal had a hard time turning Hampton over for a pin, but eventually worked a half nelson to get a fall in 3:17.
Jastal also pinned No. 5 ranked Makayla Mallatt in the semifinals.
“She was tough on bottom,” Jastal said of Hampton. “I sat there and worked her a little bit until she got tired. Eventually, she went over.”
112: Cassville sophomore Annie Moore, ranked No. 1, got a surprising matchup in the finals against No. 4 seed Josey Crisp of Diamond. Moore pinned Crisp in 5:21.
“I think I did pretty OK,” Moore said. “I worked on my half nelson and worked on different ways to use it. I also did pretty well on top.”
122: Nixa freshman Brenya Crahan, ranked No. 3, made her way through a bracket that had two other ranked wrestlers. She used a chicken wing from the top position to roll over Bartel for a second-period fall in the title bout.
“I went into the match pretty confident, knowing that I have beat her several times,” Crahan said of her match with Bartel. “She got me once, but it didn’t really worry me much.”
132: Buffalo junior Skyler Maverick was elated after her tournament Saturday as she jumped up and down, screamed and hugged coaches, friends and family after her 4-3 victory against Glendenning, ranked No. 4, in the championship match. She led 4-2 late in the third before getting hit with a stalling call in the final 20 seconds. She didn’t allow a takedown, however, and held on for the win.
“I have gotten so much better,” the No. 8-ranked Maverick said. “I had no idea I was going to be that good this year. I am so happy.”
174: Seneca freshman and No. 3 seed Isabella pulled off a couple of upsets on her way to winning her weight division. She beat No. 8-ranked and No. 1 seed Kiana Massey of Marshfield 8-7 in the semifinals before pinning No. 1 seed Cayley Maynard of Ray-Pec in the second round of the finals.
“It’s about working hard continuously,” Renfro said. “You will look stupid. It’s like, ‘Look at that girl running over there after practice. How stupid does she look?’ Really it’s those stupid things that add up in the end.”
Below is the list of all Southwest Missouri state qualifiers in Sectional 3:
Buffalo: Skyler Maverick (132), Jada Watson (195)
Cassville: Annie Moore (112), Kailey Artherton (122), Hailey Roark (132), Faith James (137)
Central (Springfield): Catherine Dutton (195)
Diamond: Josey Crips (112)
Lebanon: Adeline Cottongim (112), Kaylyn Rogers (117), Halea Bartel (122), Bailey Joiner (127), Quincey Glendenning (132), Taylor Johnson (143), Ali Haiser (159), Mariyah Brunmley (235)
Marshfield: Macie James (143), Trinity Lesser (159), Kiana Massie (174), Leanna Merrell (235)
Monett: Abigail Jastal (107)
Nevada: Claire Pritchett (235)
Nixa: Ashlyn Eli (102), Brenya Crahan (122)
Seneca: Isabella Renfro (174)
Willard: Lexi Adams (151)