Monett didn’t allow disappointment to be a possibility this time around.
Entering the Class 2 Missouri State Wrestling Championships as the favorite for a second straight year, the Cubs took care of business and wrapped up the team title with a wrestleback victory from Wesley Merriman. In 2018, they were seemingly positioned to take the crown with four state finalists but finished second to Mexico.
Monett brought nine qualifiers — no seniors — this year and left with seven medals, three finalists and two state individual state champions.
Karter Brink (120 pounds) and Matthew Bahl (126 pounds) won back-to-back championship matches with late takedowns. Brink, a junior, became a repeat champion at the weight with a 4-3 decision over sophomore undefeated defending state champion Sam Hrabovsky of Fulton. Bahl followed with a win by the same score, beating previously unbeaten sophomore Kade Willis from Central (Park Hills) — the third state finalist for a program still looking to crown its first state champion.
Bahl had been the state runnerup to Hrabovsky as a freshman.
Monett actually had three straight finalists, but defending state champion Joseph Semerad dropped the 132 final 5-2 to Logan-Rogersville junior Jay Strausbaugh. Semerad, a junior, is now a three-time finalist and two-time state champion.
Monett’s other medalists include former state finalist Gunnar Bradley (sixth, 152), Ethan Umfleet (third, 160), Wesley Merriman (fourth, 195) and Harrison Merriman (sixth, 220).
Included in this wrap-up below:
- Bolivar burgeoning under Davis
- Herman shocks Curd to finish St. Clair brothers sweep
- Logan-Rogersville perfect again
- Buffalo’s brother-sister championship combo
- Boonville’s Whitaker wakes up
- Fulton goes 1-for-2
- Nichols adds to Mexico’s history
- Gross wins title for Odessa
- Eldon adds a champion
- Priory crowns a champion
- Bodine best in Class 2 for Centralia
Bolivar burgeoning under Davis
Monett totaled 145 points to easily take the title, but Bolivar won a four-team chase for the runnerup spot. The Liberators put up 109 points in coach Jeff Davis’ first season at the helm.
This marked the best state finish in Bolivar’s history, bettering the fourth-place showing from 2012.
“He’s amazing,” Boliver junior Hayden Burks said of Davis. “We have one state champ. We had one; I’m the second. We had three in the finals, and that’s the most we’ve ever had.
“All credit to him.”
Bolivar managed just five medals, but three came from state finalists.
Burks led the way, going into state undefeated for a second straight season. He finished as state runnerup at 160 a year ago with a loss to Eldon’s Trenton Dillon.
In his second run at a state title, Burks almost came unraveled in a tough 6-5 decision over Centralia’s Grafton Littrell, who nearly scored a winning takedown and almost had a potential winning turn in the final seconds of the third period.
Burks came back with a dominating finals performance, topping Winfield’s Clark Rogers 9-5.
“I talked to coach Davis after that (semifinal) for quite a while — just me and him,” Burks said. “He knew I could come out on top.”
Bolivar’s Austin Coons, a junior and transfer from Odessa, finished as a state runnerup for a third straight year. He dropped a 4-3 decision to Mexico’s Dillon Nichols in the 138 championship match. Bolivar sophomore Drayton Huchteman was a surprising finalist at 220, and he also finished second.
The other two medalists for Bolivar were senior Granite Cunningham (third, 106) and sophomore Canyon Cunningham (sixth, 113).
Herman shocks Curd to finish St. Clair brothers sweep
St. Clair brought just seven qualifiers to state, medaled three and finished tied for sixth in the team standings.
The highlight for St. Clair came in the final match of the night at heavyweight. Aaron Herman, a senior, matched up against heavily favored Oak Grove senior Tyler Curd — a two-time state champion and three-time state medalist. Herman twice put Curd to his back in the match, the second time scoring a dramatic pin that led to a boisterous celebration from veteran coach Mel Hughes in the corner.
“I knew it was done,” said Aaron Herman (44-1), a fifth-place finisher at 195 in 2018. “It feels great, greatest feeling in the world.”
To make the moment more special, twin brother Ryan Herman won the 182 state title three matches earlier to become a three-time state medalist and two-time champion. They became the first brothers in school history to both win a state title.
Logan-Rogersville perfect again
For the second straight year, Logan-Rogersville ended up with a medal for each of the team’s state qualifiers.
In 2018, Logan-Rogersville put two in the finals and won both matches, and the six medalists produced a surprise third-place team finish. This year, Jay Straughsbaugh (51-1) made the finals for a third straight year and won the 132 title with the 5-2 decision over Monett’s Semerad. The Wildcats had five qualifiers and five medalists and finished fifth in the final team standings — just one point back of fourth-place Moberly.
Barrett Beaird came in third for a second straight year, this time at 220 pounds, while Preston Sleeth (106), Gabriel Brandenburg (120) and Riley Williams (126) were both fourth-place finishers.
“Both years were good. This year we had a lot of injuries where we couldn’t fill lineups, and people that should’ve made it didn’t make it,” Straughsbaugh said. “Overall, our team chemistry has been great. It was close to last year, but we just had one less kid this time.”
Moberly had five medalists but no finalists, benefiting from a deeper pool of qualifiers. Zach Lewis (fifth, 113), Tristan Morris (third, 152), Luke Slater (third, 170), Chance Richards (third, 195) and Jarrett Kinder (fourth, 220) were the Spartans’ medalists.
Buffalo’s brother-sister championship combo
Buffalo senior Floyd Miller capped his career in almost a perfect manner. Not only did he complete a 51-1 season with a 170-pound state championship, but he also pinned Reeds Springs senior Clayton Johnson in just 32 seconds in the final.
Miller became a four-time state medalist with Class 2 medals as a freshman and a senior and Class 1 medals for the two years in between.
Additionally, Miller joined junior sister Lizzie Miller as state champions for the weekend. Lizzie Miller won the 121-pound title in the inaugural Missouri State Girls Wrestling State Championships earlier in the night.
“She actually wasn’t all that excited for girls wrestling because she likes wrestling the guys more, she said, sometimes,” Floyd Miller said. “It’s just a crazy moment to both win in the same year.”
The weekend ended up very special for the Miller siblings, who posed for a picture backstage on top of the podium as the first brother-sister state champions in state history. Lizzie Miller was previously a state qualifier in Class 1 for the boys tournament but did not earn a medal.
“I’m super excited,” Lizzie Miller said. “I had so much fun, and I’m ready to go get my next one next year.”
Boonville’s Whitaker wakes up
In a 152-pound semifinal, Boonville sophomore Brant Whitaker found himself quickly behind 2-0 against Monett’s Bradley, a former state finalist. Bradley scored the initial takedown but wouldn’t total any more points.
Instead, Whitaker scored six straight to win a 6-2 decision and advance back to the state finals.
“Just let me know where I needed to be for the match and what I needed to do to win,” Whitaker said after the win over Bradley. “I feel like I’m supposed to be here, like I’m supposed to win this match.”
From there, Whitaker wouldn’t give up any more points in the tournament. He beat Buffalo senior Ethan Smith (54-3) in a 4-0 decision in the state championship match. Whitaker finished the season 49-1 and improved on his second-place state finish at 145 as a freshman.
Fulton goes 1-for-2
Fulton sophomore Sam Hrabovsky went back to the state finals but couldn’t repeat. He went nearly two years unbeaten before losing 4-3 to Monett’s Brink in the 120 semifinal. Hrabovsky was the unbeaten state champion as a freshman at 113.
“I think it was maybe a little bit harder, had a little better competition this year,” Hrabovsky said.
Fulton had two state finalists in the low weights with freshman Owen Uhls finishing off a strong first campaign. He beat Bolivar’s Granite Cunningham 5-2 in a 106 semifinal in what turned out to be his toughest match. In the final, he shut out Mexico’s Keith Ransom in a 9-0 major decision and scored a five-point move early in the match to take a dominant lead.
Despite the loss for Hrabovsky a few matches later, Uhls credited the guidance from his experienced teammate in helping him to reach his goals.
“Sam is awesome. He kind of gave me a mini pep talk before the match,” Uhls said. “He said, ‘Just don’t be nervous; you’ve got this. Nothing to worry about, it’s just another match.’”
Nichols adds to Mexico’s history
Dillon Nichols was one of three state champions for Mexico in the run to the 2018 Class 2 team title. With the other two gone, Nichols came back and won a second state title — this one a perfect 27-0 season capped with a 3-2 win over Bolivar’s Coons in the 145 final.
Mexico finished just outside the top 10 this year, but Nichols still put his name up with some of the other top wrestlers in school history.
“It’s pretty great. Not a lot of people get to say they’ve won two state titles, and I’m one of those who gets to say that now,” Nichols said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Gross wins title for Odessa
Odessa had six state medalists and came away with a third-place team finish. The Bulldogs’ benefited big from sophomore Gavin Gross’s run to the 138 state title.
In the semifinals, Gross won by a third-period fall to reach his first state final. He finished fifth at 132 as a freshman. In the championship match, Gross scored a takedown and then prevented Benton junior Cristian Dixon from scoring a tying escape in the final 25 seconds.
Gross held on for a 4-3 win.
Odessa’s other medalists included Shon Badder (fifth, 120), Bryce Palmer (third, 145), Luke Malizzi (fifth, 152), Jake Evinger (fifth, 160) and Hunter Hansken (fourth, 170). The Bulldogs totaled 102 points and were just seven back of runnerup Bolivar.
The top three teams in the Class 2 state standings all came from District 3.
Dixon became a second-time finalist for Benton but saw his undefeated season end against Gross. He lost a tight decision in a state championship match for a second straight season.
Eldon adds a champion
In a storybook final match, Eldon senior Isaiah Simmons became the program’s second-ever state champion and gave the Mustangs one in each of the past two seasons. Trenton Dillon (160 pounds) was the first in 2018.
A fourth-place finisher at 120 as a junior, Simmons won his title at 113 with a 2-1 decision over Excelsior Springs junior Ethan Day — a fourth-place finisher at 106 as a sophomore. Day became the Tigers’ first state champion since Brennan Johnson won the 152 Class 2 title in 2013.
Day was exuberant off the mat after a 10-0 major decision in the semifinals over Dalton McNeal of Ste. Genevieve.
“I’m ecstatic. I’ve never been to a finals,” Day said. “I’m so excited. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Priory crowns a champion
The 220 bracket ended up on its head when first Kirksville senior Colton Gillespie and then Logan-Rogersville’s Beaird lost before the finals. Both were returning top-three state finishers expected to compete for a title.
Instead, Priory junior Dalton Bingman pinned Beaird in the semifinals, and Bolivar’s Huchteman bested Monett freshman Harrison Merriman in the other semifinal. Bingman then won an 8-0 major decision over Huchteman in the championship match to become the first individual state champion in program history.
Bodine best in Class 2 for Centralia
Centralia made the move up from Class 1 to Class 2 this year, and the typically strong Panthers had just two medalists in a transition season.
While Littrell wound up sixth at 160 after nearly making the finals, Centralia junior Trevor Bodine dominated his 195 semifinal (13-1 major decision over Oak Grove’s Zander Brinegar) and final (second-period fall of Lutheran (St. Charles)) senior Anthony Heard. Bodine was a fourth-place state finisher at 195 in Class 1 as a sophomore and was a qualifier at 182 as a freshman.