OAK GROVE — Knob Noster claimed the Missouri River Valley East title for a second-straight season led by a pair of second place finishes from junior Sam Wilhelm and senior Brodie Payne on Saturday, Jan. 18.
“It was good to see some of the tougher competition from the bigger schools,” Knob Noster coach Aaron Avery said. “Those tough matches, it kind of refocuses them and gives them new goals.”
The Panthers scored 237 team points, edging out Higginsville by 27 points and third place finisher Richmond by 43 points for the East title. Overall, Knob Noster finished fourth behind three MRVC West squads.
“Richmond and Lafayette County, we are always looking at our rear view mirror and checking them because they are putting together some real good teams,” Avery said.
Payne, who wrestled with the flu Avery said, went 3-1 with a pin in the opening round followed by a 14-0 major decision and an 8-3 decision over Holden’s Armani Graybill to reach the finals.
“Fighting through and making it to the finals, that was good for him,” Avery said.
Payne lost via a second period pin to Luke Malizzi in the finals of the 160lbs. Bracket.
Wilhelm, wrestling at 120lbs., went 4-1 on the day with four first period pins before the finals. The junior’s lone loss of the tournament came in an 8-6 decision to Logan Claypole, Richmond in the finals.
Knob Noster finished with seven medalists.
Matt Wunke was the lone Panther grappler to come out of the third place match with a win, claiming a 9-3 decision over Brody Armstrong, Oak Grove, to finish his day with a 4-1 clip at 152lbs. He won his first three match with first period pins before losing to Tyson Moore, Lexington by pin in the semifinals.
Logan Hernandez, 132lbs., Conner Johnston, 145lbs., Cody Clifton, 182lbs., and Brandon Rau, 220lbs, all reached the third place match, but ended the night with a loss.
Senior Travis Stout was Holden’s top placer at the Missouri River Valley Conference tournament, finishing second at 182lbs.
Stout used a pair of pins and an 11-6 decision in the semifinals to make the championship bout.
“I liked how he wrestled with the exception of the mistake...where he is wrestling on his knees and he gets put on his back,” Jones said. “
Stout was pinned by Jake Evinger, Odessa, in the third period of the finals to end his day with a 3-1 mark.
“If he can figure that out, he can beat anybody,” Jones said. “He is the leader of the team, he wrestles with a sense of urgency, he just does some dumb things that once he fixes, he is championship level.”
Holden scored 123.5 points and had four medalists.
“We brought seven, which was tied for the least amount,” Holden coach John Jones said. “We’ve got to do some things to get better. We did some really good stuff, I saw improvement out of all kinds of people, but on the other hand I saw some things where we need to get better.”
Zach Smith came away as the only third place winner for the Eagles, beating Austen Cesonis, Harrisonville in the 172lbs third place match 8-6 in sudden victory. Smith’s lone loss came in the semifinals in a 6-5 decision.
Logan Yoder, 120lbs., and Armani Graybill both reached the third place match, but came away with a fourth place finish.
Aiden Walker and Garrett Caughern were the top finishers for Warrensburg, both taking home fifth place finishes.
The Tigers placed 11th as a team with 76 points.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to get better,” Warrensburg coach Jeff Brown said. “I see some things were there are some small windows in a match where you’ve got to be able to see what the other guy is doing and we are missing it.”
Walker, 132lbs., bounced back after suffering a quarterfinals loss with an 8-2 decision in the consolation round to reach the fifth place match.
The sophomore ended the tournament with a second period pin of Bruce Grider, Carrollton, to finish 3-1.
“I thought Aiden looked much improved especially in his last match,” Brown said.
Caughern, 152lbs., went 3-2 and finished wht day with back-to-back pins. The sophomore took down Isaiah Myers, Higginsvilles, with a second period pin to end the day.
“He is looking a lot tougher on top, which is one of his best positions,” Brown said.
Brendan Brownwell also reached the fifth place match, but ended his day with a loss, losing a 2-1 decision to Nathan Hitch, Pleasant Hill, at 285lbs.