18 min read
By Michael Smith
The girls Sectional 3 tournament in Missouri might be the most intriguing one of the four occurring this Saturday.
Harrisonville, the 2020 state champions, and Lebanon, the winners of the inaugural girls state tournament in 2019 will be in the same district and that will make for some intriguing matchups in a lot of weight classes.
The defending champion Wildcats are ranked No. 4 in the MissouriWrestling.com poll and 11 competitors in the field, with three of them being ranked in the top eight in their respective weight classes.
This season, they have the largest team in the program’s history and that could help Harrisonville win the sectional.
“We would like to get everyone through but it’s a tough sectional and we just have to work hard to prepare each day in the practice room,” Harrisonville head coach Eric Devenney said. “I don’t think we have felt like we have had a target on our back partially because there are several high-quality teams throughout the state. It is hard to compare teams from year to year but we have a much larger team this year with 20 girls and have been able to fill all but one weight class.”
Lebanon, ranked No. 1 as a team, has a whopping 13 wrestlers in the tournament, including eight ranked in the top eight. Head coach Matt Neely is looking forward to the matchup with the Wildcats.
“Harrisonville always has a good bunch of girls who are great competition, so anytime we match up with them it’s gonna be a great time,” Neely said. “ It’s something we look forward to. We intentionally try to get the toughest competition throughout the season so that the state qualifier series isn’t a big shock to our wrestlers.
“We qualified 13 for sectionals and are hoping we can get all 13 onto state. There will be several weight classes where our girl is really going to have to step up and perform to ensure that happens.”
This season, only the top three wrestlers in each weight division will advance to state, making the sectional tournament more favorable for top-heavy teams.
Other teams that could be in the running to break into the top three as a team include Cassville and Marshfield, both have eight competitors in the field. Belton, Knob Noster and West Plains each have six wrestlers in the tournament.
Below is how I think the top three will play out:
Below is a breakdown of each weight class and my predictions:
102: Nixa No. 1-ranked junior Ashlyn Eli, is a defending state champion and also finished third in 2019. She is the clear favorite to win this weight class but could have a stiff challenge with the other No. 1 seed, Raytown South senior Jasmine Alcantara of Raytown South, who could be the school’s first state qualifier in program history as the No. 4 ranked wrestler.
The No. 2 seeds are Sedalia Smith-Cotton’s Lilly Soendker and Lebanon’s McKenzie Gormley. This is Eli’s weight division to lose, and I don’t think she does. The Nixa junior takes first.
1st: Ashlyn Eli, Nixa (36-0)
2nd: Jasmine Alcantara, Raytown South (27-3)