While the Neosho wrestling team continues to work under the assumption that its No. 1 state ranking is in error, that they aren’t the top team in the state, the Wildcats’ opponents this season, and particularly on Friday, would beg to differ.
The Wildcats displayed sheer domination, yet again, for their home crowd on Friday as they destroyed Westminster Christian (St. Louis) 71-4, and Monett 67-3 in a triangular at NHS.
Of course, much of this talk about the Wildcats being overrated is posturing, mainly by coach Jeremy Phillips, in a concerted effort to keep his team working to get better.
It seems to be working.
Neosho opened the evening by pounding the Cubs with relative ease. Sophomore Austin Hailey opened the varsity match against Monett’s Wesley Abramovitz at 170 pounds and earned a 6-2 decision. That set off a firestorm for the Wildcats as Jacob Brock blanked Matt Wentz 4-0 at 182 and the rout was on.
Neosho’s only loss against the Cubs came at 195 pounds where Monett’s Devon Overall scored a 9-6 decision over Ben Elledge. Perhaps the most exciting match, however, turned out in the 120-class where Neosho’s River Buttram escaped with a 3-1 victory in overtime over Monett’s Chase Brennan.
Other results for the Wildcats were: 106, John Williams open; 113, Kyler Rea pinned Sean Jastal; 126, Dakota McGarrah decisioned Kedric Brink, 13-3; 132, Nate Rodriguez pinned Garret Bradley; 138, Isaac Townsend pinned Jorden Henson; 145, Kyle Hostetter pinned Keanu Reed; 152, Chance Branstetter open; 160, Garrick Fausett pinned Bryce Logan; 220, Christian Lopez open; 285, Aaron Clardy pinned Shawn Beeson.
The Wildcats then set their sights on the Wildcats of Westminster Christian, where they again displayed their dominance as they won eight matches by pin. Neosho’s only loss in the bout came at 195 where Elledge fell to Bennett Lewis, 12-3.
“One thing that (our team) has been focusing on is consistency, not only individually within a match, but consistency with the team,” Phillips said. “That part of things I thought we did well tonight. Our kids were a little more coachable, and that’s something we’ve been emphasizing is our wrestlers wrestling and letting the coaches coach.
“I feel like the kids are doing a very good job of buying in to what the coaches are asking of them.”
Winners for the Wildcats were: 106, Williams open; 113, Rea pinned Joe Walker; 120, Buttram pinned Eli Parham; 126, McGarrah pinned Kevin Stump; 132, Rodriguez pinned Mike Nothum; 138, Townsend decisioned Dominic Barresi, 7-5; 145, Hostetter pinned Clayton Hubler; 152, Branstetter pinned Keegan Brown; 160, Fausett decisioned Michael Weston, 16-5; 170, Hailey blanked Brink Thompson, 10-0; 182, Brock pinned Chris Cacciarelli; 220, Lopez pinned Joe Isaacs; 285, Clardy open.
Neosho also benefited from a large crowd on hand, which added some electricity to the air and made for an exciting night for Phillips’ squad.
Page 2 of 2 - “I appreciate everyone who came out,” Phillips said. “The atmosphere is always great at all of the events, and it makes it a lot more exciting, I think, not only for myself, but for the kids out there wrestling.”
Friday’s promotion highlighted Neosho’s youth program with “Elementary School Night” and “Youth Wrestling Night” being the theme. All elementary school students were admitted free to the event, and received a complimentary Neosho wrestling poster at the door. The Wildcat XTREME Team then put on a demo for the large crowd in attendance, while the varsity wrestlers looked on before their dual with Monett.
That too, was deemed a success.
“Success breeds success,” Phillips said. “I want our high school kids to understand that. I told them they needed to step out there and be an example for those little guys. That’s what the program’s all about. We did provide a great example tonight for those little guys looking to come out and be that varsity wrestler some day.”
The Wildcats are back in action on Thursday when they travel to Anderson to take on McDonald County in a dual beginning at 5 p.m.