By Michael Smith
Oak Grove made winning look easy at the tri dual against Grain Valley and Marshall.
The Panthers cruised past the Owls 72-12 and then defeated Grain Valley in a 61-18 rout Thursday at Grain Valley High School. In all, Oak Grove lost just three contested matches and two by forfeit. Grain Valley, despite missing many of their top wrestlers, edged Marshall 39-36.
Oak Grove’s Hunter Chaney was one of nine Panthers to finish 2-0 on the night, as he pinned Marshall’s Gerald Nomau and Grain Valley’s OT Fredrick at 195 pounds. Chaney said he felt like his endurance was his best attribute on Thursday but he still has some things to work on.
“Overall, I think I did all right,” Chaney said. “I still need to get better at my shots and setting up my opponents for those.”
Caleb Groff, ranked No. 2 in the MissouriWrestling.com Class 2 poll at 285, earned a pair of pins as well against Marshall’s Isaac Almazan and Grain Valley’s Andrew Czeschin. He improved his record to 13-1 on the season.
“I am grateful to get a chance to wrestle this year with COVID going on,” Groff said. “I just wanted some mat time and nothing is guaranteed.”
Oak Grove’s Carson Smith (152), like Groff, was a state qualifier last year, and is looking for make some noise in the 2020-2021 season. He won by pin against Marshall’s Gabe Reyes and then cruised to a 16-3 major decision against Grain Valley’s Evan Reich.
“I felt like I wrestled well, especially in my first match (against Reyes),” Smith said. “I wrestled my match. My second match went the same, I just couldn’t finish it.
“I was pretty good with my double-legs (takedowns). It’s pretty explosive and catches people off guard. I was also good with my wrist control up top.”
Other Panthers to finish 2-0 were Holland Graves (160), Hunter Chaney (170), Zander Brinegar (220, Kaden Scarborough (126), Jordan Hall (132), Chayton Kellum (138) and Ethan Phillips (145).
“That’s what you want to only have three loses or so,” Oak Grove head coach James Morgan said. “We have a pretty good amount of experience.. A lot of our kids have been wrestling for a long time. Our savvy out there is not bad, we just need to work on our mentality and stay composed in certain situations.”
And if the Panthers can do those things, they could be a contender in Class 2 this season.
“We can definitely win a state championship with the team that we have,” Chaney said.
Added Morgan: “Oak Grove has 17 championships and we haven’t quite got there in my four years here. But that is always our goal to win a state title. The postseason will be a little bit longer this year, so we will have to gear up for that.”
For Grain Valley. Eli Hendricks (120) and Gavin Parks (106) were the lone Eagle to finish 2-0 as the duo’s matches were all won by forfeit. Tyler Groves (113), Justin Dewese (132), Reich, Joseph Hansuld (160), Mason Hontz (170) and Gzeschin each finished 1-1.
“We’re missing seven guys to illness, injuries or concussion protocols,” Grain Valley coach Jeff Bowman said. “It’s just want of those things. Tis’ the season. It’s hard to put together a team but we are slow putting it together.
“We didn’t do very well against Oak Grove. They are a perennial powerhouse. They are always good. It was a good test forus to face them and see where we are at.:
For Marshall, Gavin Mills(113) and Owen Kiso (182) both went 2-0, with all wins coming by pin.