Four wins separate 896 wrestlers from calling themselves state champions.
Local teens who have spent all season — for some, a lifetime — devoted to the sport of wrestling, the Missouri State High School Activities Association Wrestling Championships will end with 56 titles across class and weight.
Starting Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, the state championship tournament will pare down the field using 16-person, double-elimination brackets.
In order to reach Columbia, wrestlers had to place fourth or better in their district qualifying tournaments, held Feb. 14. Across four classifications based on the size of schools the teams represent, seven locals stood out for the storylines they will wrestle through in the season finale.
Cody Sandridge, Republic, Class 3, 152 pounds: Sandridge handed senior Seth Logan of Carthage just his second loss of the season in a 5-1 final of the Class 3 District 3 championships at 152 pounds. Standridge (40-1) has an uncanny ability to stay calm in close bouts, which will be a great asset at the state championships. Standridge draws Kaulic Williams, a 28-11 senior from Raytown South in his opening match.
Christian Lance, Nixa, Class 4, 220 pounds: Lance placed fifth at 195 pounds last season, but he has been an absolute manbeast as a senior. At 52-1, Lance received a favorable seed and tangles with Mason Costa (37-8) of Lindberg in the opening round. Watching the physically imposing Lance compete at 220 pounds, it’s almost impossible to imagine him wrestling at 113 as a freshman, but growth spurts and a serious dedication to weight-lifting, nutrition, and wrestling allowed Lance to mold himself into a serious contender.
Ethen Carlberg, Rogersville, Class 2, 145 pounds: Carlberg wrestles methodically from the top position. He is a wet blanket whose rides are often patient as he works for pinning combinations while hanging on his opponent like the world’s most secure backpack. Scoring a reversal or an escape on Carlberg proves difficult to do, which could come in handy should Carlberg find himself in overtime. He enters the tournament 47-4 and faces Tyrese Brown (21-8) of Miller Career Academy in the opening round.
Hunter Yeargan, Willard, Class 3, 195 pounds: Yeargan (37-1) suffered his first loss of the season in the Class 3 District 3 championship final when he lost 5-1 in an ultimate tiebreaker against Christopher Hailey (47-6) of Neosho. Yeargan would not need to worry about Hailey again unless the two meet in the state championship bout, as the two wrestlers are placed on opposite ends of their bracket. Steven Haley, a 46-3 junior from Poplar Bluff, will be Yeargan’s opponent in the opening round of 16.
Gavin DeWitt, Ozark, Class 4, 126 pounds: DeWitt didn’t let a broken elbow stop him from going undefeated in his junior season. He enters the state tournament 21-0 thanks to some fast healing. DeWitt won bronze at the 2014 state championships, and is out to better his result this year.
Gabe Cowan, Rogersville, Class 2, 120 pounds: A 25-6 senior, Cowan wrestled through the winter with purpose. According to Rogersville coach Justin Wisdom, Cowan changed his psychological approach to the sport and reaped significant results. Cowan knows this is his last chance to earn all-state honors, and has entered every match with seriousness and mental toughness.
Wesley Abramovitz, Monett, Class 2, 182 pounds: Abramovitz had a rough go at the 2014 state tournament, but he’s been dead-set on redemption throughout a 33-6 senior campaign. Along with Joel Barrientos (106 pounds) and Jacob Negre (195), Abramovitz won an individual district championship and led Monett to a team title in Class 2 District 3.
Two of Abramovitz’s matches went the distance, but both were major decision victories, which suggests Abramovitz is well-conditioned and ready to make a championship run.
Springfield area qualifiers for 2015 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships
106: Max Roark, Seneca
113: Dawson Stevens, Seneca
120: Matt Caputo, Seneca
126: Trey Smith, Seneca
132: Remi Renfro, Diamond; Jesse Rhoades, Seneca
138: Will Roark, Seneca
145: Taylor Cook, Seneca
152: Colton McDaniel, Seneca
160: Kyle Williams, Diamond; Lance Hymer, Senenca
170: Forrest Hall, Seneca; Kenneth Shaughnessy, Springfield Catholic
182: Colton Renfro, Diamond
195: Dylan West, Seneca
220: Gabe Martin, Seneca
285: Nic Granger, Seneca
106: Joel Barrientos, Monett; Luke Moffet, Bolivar
113: Matt Kahnert, Reeds Spring
120: Sean Jastal, Monett; Gabe Cowan, Rogersville
126: Chase Hampton, Bolivar; Dayton Miller, Nevada; Trenton Houston, Buffalo
132: Kendric Brink, Monett; Colton Shrewsbury, Nevada
138: Garret Bradley, Monett
145: Jaron Beeson, Monett; Ethen Carlberg, Rogersville
160: William White, Reeds Spring; Ian Meyer, Monett
170: Chaden Brandt, Nevada; Luke Francaviglia, Rogersville; Broden Lemaster, Reeds Spring
182: Jacob Johnson, Nevada; Wesley Abramovitz, Monett; Tate Johnson, Reeds Spring
195: Jacob Negre, Monett; Thomas Heipke, Buffalo; Scott Rusmisel-Swink, Nevada
220: Gabriel Pryor, Monett; Isaac Long, Bolivar
285: Angel Villalta, Monett
113: Dakota Jones, Carthage
120: Tyler Church, Carl Junction; Corben Pugh, Carthage
126: Niko Chavez, Willard
132: Jacob Ulrich, Branson; Keegan Darby, Camdenton; Hunter Yust, Carthage; Deven Colbert, Glendale
138: Markkel Moore, Carthage
145: Tyler Harden, Carthage; Tyler Park, Marshfield
152: Seth Logan, Carthage; Cody Sandridge, Republic; Kyle Caldwell, Willard
160: Edxel Morales, Carthage; Brandon O’Connell, Republic; Quintin Bisbey, Willard
182: Kegan Ray, Camdenton; Sklyler Bloomer, Carthage; John Smart, Willard
195: Hunter Yeargan, Willard
220: Christian Robertson, Branson; Sky Cope, Willard
285: Shayne Piles, Republic; Austin McMillen, Willard
106: Zachary Philips, Joplin; Sean Sax, Waynesville
113: Floyd Marshall, Nixa
126: Connor Langdon, Nixa; Gavin DeWitt, Ozark
132: Dylan Burns, Lebanon; Nicholas Baxter, Nixa
138: Marshall Osborne, Nixa
145: Skye Paulk, Joplin
152: Tucker Jennings, Ozark; Derrick Sax, Waynesville
160: Cole Oliver, Parkview; David Hawk, Waynesville
170: Brandon Horsley, Lebanon; Todd Angel, Waynesville
182: Terell Crawford, Joplin; Adrian Palmer, Lebanon
220: Christian Lance, Nixa; Joseph Woddiel, Parkview; Brandon Fancher, Waynesville
285: Phillip Reitz, Joplin; Austin Heatherly, Nixa