By Michael Smith
Bryce Palmer may not have wrestled Thursday night, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t a memorable dual for him.
The Odessa senior won by forfeit against Kansas City Center at home and it ended up being a milestone victory, his 150th of his career. He joined fellow seniors Jake Evinger and Gavin Gross, who reached the same milestone earlier in the season during a 61-12 rout of Kansas City Center at home.
Palmer is a part of the senior trio that has been the heart and soul of the Bulldogs for the past four years.
“These guys have been varsity since day one,” Odessa coach Kirk Gross said. “They have been state qualifiers. Jake and Gavin will be four-time medalists by the end of this year. And Bryce will be a three-time medalist. They have a great shot at ending with three state championships.”
“They have been through some adversity from Bryce losing his mom and the team losing a cheerleader and their football season being canceled. They have had to deal with a lot of stuff that frankly, most people don’t deal with in their lifetime.”
After the match, the senior trio posed for pictures with their 150-win commemorative posters.
“It’s awesome. We have three guys who have worked hard forever,” said Palmer, who is ranked No. 2 in Class 3 according to the MissouriWrestling.com poll. “We wrestled with each other since we were six years old. This is pretty special.”
It’s helped that Palmer has had a two-time state champion like Gavin Gross to wrestle against in practice.
“It’s huge to wrestle both of them (Gross and Evinger),” Palmer said. “They are both state finalists. I am hoping to be this year. We all make each other better. They are the best teammates and best friends I could ask for.”
Gavin Gross (152), who also won against Center by forfeit, echoed similar sentiments about the two other members of the trio.
“We all dabbled in the victory for him because I am his practice partner,” said Gavin Gross, who is ranked No. 1. “We are all pushing each other in the room. That’s awesome to get three guys on the same team to 150 wins.”
Evinger (182), who got his 150th win last week, piled onto his win total with a throw and a pin in 1:18 against Harold Tsafack.
“I have been close with those dudes since kindergarten,” the No. 3-ranked Evinger said. “We all work well together to begin with but we just kept grinding throughout (high school). We’re in high school dominating now. It’s great to have a bond with them and have a champion lifestyle with these dudes.”
Zane Palmer (145), who is Bryce’s younger brother, said he aims to replicate his older brother’s success and reach 150 career wins himself. On Thursday, he pinned Reece Damiano in 2:15 after going up 6-2 and hooking a cradle for the victory.
“It’s amazing. I am so proud of him,” Zane said of Bryce. “It’s very impressive. He pushes me every day like all the seniors. Hopefully one day I get there. It’s a grind.”
Also earning wins for Odessa were Landon Scarborough (106), who earned a 13-12 win against Michael Darrington; Billy Lyons (113), who pinned Eric Franklin in 2:46; Dayton Carpenter (120), who pinned Leisic Gunnels in 3:04; Jase Todd (126), who took a 10-0 decision against Elijah Gunnels; No. 4-ranked Shon Badder, who won by forfeit; Nick Scholle (220), who won by forfeit; and Ammon Dawson (285), who won by forfeit.
Nosa Ohanmu (195) got Center’s only victory in a contested match when he got a pin in 4:38 against Hunter Riley.
“I got an underhook and went to a chin drop (to get the pin),” Ohanmu said. “I still have some things I need to work on to get to state.”
Alex Hillard (152) got the Yellowjackets’ other win by forfeit.
After a Missouri River Valley Conference West victory, the Bulldogs are aiming for the same goal they do every year, a state title.
“We got our four hammers including Shon and we got some kids that are coming up,” Kirk Gross said. “Billy Lyons is wrestling better, Landon Scarborough is wrestling better and Jase Todd and Zane Palmer will be in medal contention. Hunter Riley is going to be good for us. We just have to sneak a couple of guys through (to state).”