Injuries and the flu have reared their ugly heads at this point in the season, as it often does, and both had an effect on Thursday’s showdown between the Neosho Wildcats and Carl Junction Bulldogs in a varsity wrestling dual at Carl Junction High School.
The Bulldogs had four open classes, and the Wildcats took advantage of the night to rest some starters and get their backups some quality varsity mat time. Oh, and the Wildcats still cruised to a 54-12 victory.
“We wrestled well in the matches we got tonight,” Neosho coach Jeremy Phillips said. “We were able to get several of our JV kids varsity mat time tonight, and they stepped in and did very well.”
The Wildcats, who have had a busy schedule of late, expect to reap the benefits down the road for getting their youth involved on nights like Thursday.
“With (an) overbooked schedule that I created for that purpose, we have the chance to have our backups ready for the years to come, or, if needed, at any given time like tonight,” Phillips said. “We only have one more varsity wrestler we will need to sit so that we stay within the MSHSAA guidelines of 10 duals and five tournaments, or nine duals and six tournaments.
“We chose the latter for more matches, and the opportunity to get as close to 50 (matches), which is the limit before districts.”
Both teams were open at 112 pounds and Neosho wrestlers Toby Friend, Nate Rodriguez and Jason Box all picked up open victories.
At 126 pounds, Neosho’s River Buttram pinned Lucas Hertzberg in 1:09. Other wins for the Wildcats, with Neosho listed first, were: 145, Kyle Hostetter pinned Mason Markham, 1:32; 160, Garrick Fausett won by decision over Alex McMullen, 6-5; 170, Austin Hailey won by major decision over Calvin Bremmerkamp, 15-0; 182, Jacob Brock pinned Dylan Pyle, 1:09; 195, Ben Elledge pinned Matt Kersey, 1:15; 220, Addison Derryberry won by decision over Taylor Dawdy in overtime.
Other results for the Wildcats were: 120, Brayden Brookman lost to Jeremiah Tyner; 152, Chance Branstetter lost to Nick Koon; 285, Cody Fox lost to Jared Klouse.
There was one junior varsity match in which Neosho’s Rexi Elwise lost to Jewell.
The Wildcats (12-1) and ranked No. 2 in state by missouriwrestling.com, are back in action on Tuesday when they host Columbus and Caney (Kan.) at 5:30 p.m. for “Mat Warming,” the Wildcats’ homecoming event.