Seasons of Endurance: The Merrell-Stewart Journey through Sports at Carl Junction

For most of this school year, Dexter Merrell and Tony Stewart have been on the same teams together.

In the fall, the two were on the same football team for Carl Junction. In the winter, that shifted to joining the wrestling team and now, the two are on the Bulldogs’ track and field team.

“There’s never been time off or anything like that, but I enjoy it,” Stewart said. 

Both are coming off solid wrestling seasons on the mat for the Bulldogs. 

Stewart, a junior, took fifth place at 175 pounds in Class 3. He reached the semifinals and ended with a win to finish with a 47-5 mark. 

Merrell, who is a senior, was 38-11 in his final season and capped off his career by taking fifth at 157 pounds and he was also a semifinalist for Carl Junction.

Both feel there are the lessons learned on the mat have helped them with other sports.

Stewart said the atmosphere in track practice is a lot different than being in a wrestling room that is high tempo and ‘grind, grind, grind’ every day. 

He’s been a sprinter in the past for the Bulldogs running the 100- and 400-meter dashes and picked up javelin last year.

“One day coach came up to me and was like, you used to play baseball right?” Stewart said. “I was like, yeah. Then he said you want to come throw a spear and I said, ‘Sure, why not.’”

He threw the javelin only three times last year but in the first meet this year — the 40th annual Carthage Invitational held on March 28 — he threw a personal best of 42.22 meters. Stewart also ran on the 4×100 and 4×200-meter relay teams that had top-three finishes in the meet. 

“If we have a hard (track) workout, I just think, man, at least it’s not wrestling workouts because that’s the hardest thing I’ve probably ever done in my life,” Stewart said. “And then in football, (wrestling) makes me one of the most physical players out there and it helps with tackling and everything.”

Stewart said he is around 200 pounds this spring and is still debating what weight class he will be next year. He said it will come down to what’s best for the lineup in scoring points.

Stewart will juggle football practice in the summer but will mix in some freestyle and folkstyle tournaments. 

“My goal is just to let it all fly because last year I was timid and cost me at state,” Stewart said. “I want to get on the mat with a clear mindset that I can beat anybody and just whatever happens happens.”

While Merrell will not be back on the mat next year, he’s keeping those lessons with him this spring in track and field.

Merrell has done football, wrestling, baseball and now track and field for Carl Junction. He’s a hurdler for the Bulldogs and was a sectional qualifier last year in Class 4. 

“It’s an addicting event that makes me just want to strive to get better every time,” he said. “It’s a it’s a fun event….

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Cody Thorn

Written by Cody Thorn

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