By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
For the past seven seasons, coach Matt Holt has built the Marshfield High School wrestling program into a success story.
And nowhere was that illustrated better than last season when Daylon Kanengeiter became the Blue Jays’ first in history to advance to a state championship match.
“We continued to win last season and that has become the standard here TCOB – Take Care of Business,” said Holt, whose program is 133-39 in duals the past seven years. “It was not always like that here, but nobody we have right now other than the coaches know that. Since these current kids were in elementary, Marshfield Wrestling has won and the goal is to keep it that way.”
While Kanengieter graduated along with two other state qualifiers, Marshfield has yet another intriguing roster.
Overall, Holt anticipates having 50 wrestlers in the room at the start of the season, with 11 being returning starters. One of those was a state qualifier, and three others were in the top four at sectionals.
Additionally, this is a program that was 20-7 last year, won the Union Tournament, the Kinloch Classic and finished as runner-up of both the Bolivar Tournament and the Big 8 Conference.
The projected roster looks like this:
Sophomore Avery Byers at 113 pounds, Byers or freshman Tanner Davidson at 120, Davidson or junior Tommy Mynatt at 126, Mynatt or sophomore Marcus Gritts at 132 and senior Damian Dockery and junior Joseph Martin competing at 138 and 145. Marshfield is open at 106.
In the upper weights, look for junior Braeden Young and sophomore Ryan Nagy competing at 152, senior Mathew Derecichei at 160, senior Dusty Stevens at 170, senior Ben Wirtel at 182, senior Jacob Houska and sophomore Parker Hammons competing at 195, juniors Eric Tomanek and Mason Mellington at 220 and senior Maguire Wilson at heavyweight.
Dockery is a four-year starter who is closing in on 100 career wins. He was a state qualifier last season when he finished 38-17.
“He worked extremely hard this offseason, including attending some tournaments,” Holt said. “Last year, he wrestled in a tournament final four times.”
The Jays hope Derecichei can do some damage, too. He was 20-10 last year.
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“Last season was his first in the varsity lineup. Any year other than COVID, he would be a returning state qualifier,” Holt said, noting he finished fourth at the qualifying tournament, which took only the top three to state. “He’s a great Leader and works hard in the room. He made the podium at several tournaments last season.”
Stevens gained valuable experience as a sophomore in 2019 when he filled in for injured two-time state medalist Will Snider. He, too, might have been a state qualifier if not for COVID leading state officials to re-work the qualifying tournament. He was 36-10 last year.
“I consider him to be the leader in the room,” Holt said. “He is the hardest worker, with an unbelievable heart. He finished in the top three at every tournament during the regular season.”
Last season was Wirtel’s first on varsity and finished fourth at the qualifying tournament, with a 32-10 record.
“He has a very unusual style that makes him very hard to deal with,” Holt said. “He was the Kinloch Classic champion and Big 8 champion. He was on the podium at every tournament we attended last year.”
Wilson has been behind state qualifiers and a state medalist in recent years. He was 18-2 last year.
“He was 18-2 last season in limited action,” Holt said. “He is a phenomenal athlete and an absolute beast as a three-year starter in football.”
Others to keep an eye on are Mynatt and Martin, both two-year starters, and Davidson, who lost only one regular-season match in youth wrestling last year.
The Blue Jays certainly didn’t exactly kick back and enjoy the summer breeze, either. That was by design, as Holt has set goals of a winning season, becoming conference champions and wants more than four state qualifiers and at least two state medalists.
“We were able to go back to NEO this summer. It’s always a good experience,” Holt said. “We get tough matches, and the kids get to spend three days in the dorms together, so it is a good bonding experience. We also hosted a summer dual tournament where we saw the 10-time state champ Whitfield, so we were battle tested this summer.”
Marshfield’s girls team won the Big 8 Conference last season, had six state qualifiers and was the district runner-up. Plus, the Lady Jays were 16-0 in duals.
Which is why coach Adam Wright is optimistic, especially considering that Marshfield returns seven starters – including three state qualifiers. Among them is a state medalist.
The projected roster includes senior Josselynn Yates (107), freshman Alyx Keifert (117), sophomore Emily Croy (122), senior Alissa Hughley (127), sophomore Carlee Cardoza (132) and several options at 137 and 143 – junior Macie James, sophomore Ariaha Mcillwain and sophomore Camryn Elliott. Freshman Aleeya Wilson is in the mix.
In remaining weights, look for sophomore Isabella Whitlock and freshman Aleeya Wilson (151), sophomore Trinity Lesser (159), senior Kianna Massie (174), senior Megan Petty (195 or 235).
Hughley was 26-4 two years ago and spent this past summer in basic training for the Army.
James is a returning state qualifier, in her first full season of wrestling.
“She has put in some good offseason work that we expect to pay some big dividends for us this season,” Wright said.
Mcillwain was one match away from qualifying for state last season, her first on the team.
Lesser was 25-10 last season and qualified for the state tournament.
“With a year of high school wrestling under her belt, we believe she is set for a spectacular sophomore season,” Wright said.
Massie placed fourth last year in her first year of wrestling. She is a three-sport athlete (softball, wrestling, track), and All-State in wrestling and track.
“She has fallen in love with the sport and has set high goals for herself,” Wright said. “With her work ethic and athleticism, we expect her to go above and beyond those goals this season.”
Marshfield had a pretty good offseason, too.
“We went to the NEO wrestling camp for the first time as a girls team,” Wright said. “We had a handful of girls attend and do well. They got to wrestle several live matches against girls that they don’t usually see from Arkansas, Oklahoma, etc. The camp was effective by providing not just some good wrestling techniques and experience but also some team bonding experiences and getting to know each other.”