Willard opens season minus one very notable member of the team

By: Ross Martin

There were the inevitable disappointments in the Class 3 Missouri State Wrestling Championships, but Willard finished seventh as a team and celebrated brothers Christian Finley and Michael Finley making the championship bouts at 106 and 113. All appeared to be trending in a positive direction.

Then came the scary scenario that played out in the offseason with Michael Finley, who had lost 4-3 in the 113-pound title bout to Farmington’s Austin Wadlow. Finley got the flu and then developed a debilitating combination of a staph infection and pneumonia.

Eventually, Michael Finley — now a senior — underwent a successful lung transplant in April that saved his life but ended his wrestling career.