By: Ross Martin
Kade Willis continued to prove to himself — and the rest of the state — that he belongs during the Class 2 Missouri State Wrestling Championships last year. Now a junior at Central (Park Hills), he ran all the way to the 132-pound state championship match, losing a tight 4-3 decision to Monett’s Matthew Bahl.
Central had never had a state finalist before, and now that Willis has checked that box, he has his sights set on earning the state championship this time around. He won’t be alone in trying to establish tradition for the program.
In addition to Willis, junior Garrett Smith (126) is a two-time qualifier, while seniors William Mayberry (145), Blake Bolin (152) and Josh Whaley (170) also have previous state experience for Central. Rebels coach Scott Aholt believes freshmen Austin Hassell, Hunter Settles and Kobe Bolin will help fill out the lineup and give his team a chance to be better in the state team standings. In addition, Central will welcome transfers Austin Carver and Troy Harris.