20 min read
By Michael Smith
Cameron only has one wrestler in the top 6 of the MissouriWrestling.com poll, but it might have the biggest advantage going into the Sectional 4 Tournament Saturday at Platte County High School.
The Dragons pushed through nine competitors to sectionals, the most of any team in the tournament as they are coming off a first-place finish in the District 8 Tournament. Meanwhile, Staley comes into the tournament with seven qualifiers as it won District 7.
“I think anytime a team or wrestler comes off of a good performance then they are in a better mindset for the next,” Staley girls wrestling coach Nic Brent said of his team’s momentum heading into sectionals. “The challenge this year is to not allow that positivity to turn into complacency with the two week gaps between postseason events.”
Other teams like Marceline (seven qualifiers), Smithville (six), Liberty North (six), Lathrop (five) and Fort Osage (five) should have a shot at making the top three in the tournament as well.
Cameron’s sophomore Hollie Hedgepeth, who finished second at 187 pounds last season in the state tournament, is ranked No. 3 at 174 this season.
Staley has three wrestlers in the top 8, including Chloe Sheckells (No. 2 at 112), Lexi Hatfield (No. 1 at 122) and Emily Colling (No. 8 at 137).
It will be more difficult for teams to get their wrestlers to state this season as only the top three in each weight division will qualify for state when it had been the top four the past two seasons. That will give the advantage to more top-heavy teams, with the most elite-level talent.
Although Cameron has the advantage in the number of wrestlers, I think Staley will take this one as they have a little more experience with Sheckells and Hatfield on the team, both of whom are two-time state qualifiers.
Here is how I see the top three shaking out in the Sectional 4 tournament:
2nd: Fort Osage
Below is a breakdown of each weight class and my predictions:
106: North Kansas City sophomore Jaclyn Fast (21-4 record) comes as the only ranked wrestler in this weight class (No. 5) and appears to be the favorite. She squeaked out a 1-0 win against Aniya Coleman in a defensive battle at districts. On the lower part of the bracket, the other No. 1 seed, Ashley Yamat of Cameron, pinned Loren Patee of Mid-Buchanan, in the finals. Patee is the only competitor in this weight class that’s a returning state qualifier.
Fast pinned Yamat at the Sam Martin Invitational back in January. She might have a tough matchup against Patee in the semifinals, which should be a good one. But I like Fast to take this weight class.
1st: Jaclyn Fast, North Kansas City (21-4)
2nd: Ashley Yamat, Cameron (25-2)