Starting Thursday in Columbia, wrestlers from across the state will gather at Mizzou Arena for the 81st annual Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) state wrestling championships.
Locally there are seven wrestlers who will be competing in the Class 4 bracket, including four from and three from .
Representing Holt will be sophomore Clayton Ream (31-4), who is fresh off of a second place finish at the 125-pound weight class in districts. Also representing Holt will be senior Brett Beckmann (32-12), who took second at 140, and junior Gaige Dunnermann (19-14), who finished in fourth place at 171.
Holt coach Jason Moore was pleased with the way his young team performed in districts.
"Our district tournament is the toughest in the state," he said. Every year there are several quality wrestlers that do not qualify from our district. We did pretty well over the weekend. We are a young team and for a lot of them it was thier first district tournament. They will learn from the experience and be better prepared for next year."
As for the three that are heading to Columbia, Moore says they each fought hard at districts and should be ready to do so again this weekend.
"Clay and Brett wrestled well to make the finals but came up a little short in their championship bouts," said Moore. "Gaige lost in the quarterfinals but was able to battle back and earn his fourth place finish. We know these kids are battle tested and ready to perform at the state tournament. We always have the highest expectations and plan to come back from the state tournament with some hardware."
Timberland, meanwhile, is being led into the state tournament by district champion Jesse Freise (41-4), a senior, who won at 152. Timberland coach Cornell Robinson says he believes Freise has the potential to make a lot of noise in Columbia.
“This is his first time going to state, and he was really good in districts,” said Robinson. “He was very cautious early but loosened up in the finals once he knew he was going to state. He did what he had to do to win, and sometimes that’s all it takes. He has the opportunity and just has to take advantage of it. He’s someone to be reckoned with.”
At 119, representing Timberland is junior Col Colton Orlando, who took second in districts and comes in with a record of 44-3. Robinson says that Orlando, a three-time state qualifier who had a tough call go against him in the district championship match, will be up against plenty of outstanding competition at state.
“That’s a tough bracket, the 119-pound class,” said Robinson. “It could be anybody’s tournament. He’s got some tough matches ahead of him.”
Decan Richter, a 112-pound freshman, also will be representing Timberland. He comes in with a 35-7 record after taking third place in districts. Robinson says that Richter should have a good experience in Columbia.
“He wrestled tough at districts, but had a little slip up and got caught and cradled in the semi-finals and lost to a kid he’d beaten twice already,” said Robinson. “Other than that he wrestled fine, but I thought we’d have him in the finals. He’s on the tough side of the bracket at state, but he’s a dangerous freshman. He’ll come out of state a better wrestler.”
The last Timberland wrestler to qualify for state is junior Jacob Hawks. With 30 wins against just four losses this season, Hawks is heading to Columbia for the third time, this year at the 160-pound weight class.
“He’s dangerous,” said Robinson. “We’ll see how it goes with him. He’s on the good side of the bracket.”
Overall, Robinson said he was pleased with the way his team performed at districts, but admitted he’d hoped for a little more.
“I figured we’d get four through,” he said. “Anything after that would have been a plus. We wanted more champions and would have liked to over-perform a little bit.”
Attending the Championship
State wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, with gates opening at 9 a.m. Friday’s action begins at 9:30 a.m. with gates opening at 8:30 a.m. while things on Saturday start at 10 a.m. with gates opening at 9 a.m.
Tickets are $8 per session and there are a total of five sessions – two on Thursday, one on Friday and two on Saturday.
For a complete schedule of the state wrestling tournament and daily results, see MSHSAA's web site.