A trio of Neosho natives now wrestling at the collegiate level recently made news on the mats with a pair of strong performances over the weekend.
Smith, a sophomore at Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia, Ark., repeated as the NCAA Division II Super Regional Champion for the second time in as many years, as he claimed a 7-2 win over the nation’s No. 1 wrestler, Adam Walters from the University of Findlay, in the championship match in Ashland, Ohio, last weekend.
A former individual and team state champion with the Wildcats, Smith wrestles at 184 pounds for Kevin Ward’s Tigers where he went 4-0 at the Regional Tournament, including two major decisions and a technical fall.
Another former Wildcat standout, Hatter, brought home fourth place at the JUCO National Championships and achieved All-American status as a member of the Labette Community College Cardinal wrestling team over the weekend. Wrestling at 174 pounds, Hatter, a redshirt freshman, fell to Garrett Miller of Rochester Community and Technical College, 7-4, in the third place match of the NJCAA National Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa.
Hatter also helped his Cardinal stake claim to their second-straight national championship as they tied with North Idaho College with 120 points to finish as co-national champions.
And who can forget one of the hottest freshman wrestlers in the nation in Blake Stauffer? A redshirt at Arizona State, Stauffer has steered his Sun Devils toward their goal of a 17th conference title by compiling a 21-2 individual record this season. Despite missing nearly a month to injury, Stauffer leads the team with nine bonus point victories, six major decisions and a .913 winning percentage.
At 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, Stauffer — the son of Mike and Val Stauffer of Neosho — began the season unranked, but quickly changed that and now finds himself no lower than No. 13 on any recognized Division I college wrestling ranking list. That includes his No. 13 ranking by d1collegewrestling.net, and No. 12 by both intermatwrestle.com and win-magazine.com. The NCAA also has Stauffer listed as having the No. 4 RPI in the nation entering the weekend.
He’ll try helping his Sun Devils to a conference title for the 17th time in school history when they take part in the Pac-12 Championships as Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday.