When the Neosho wrestling team awakened on Friday, the Wildcats thought they’d be traveling to Jefferson City, Mo., to participate in the Missouri Duals. Poor weather would change those plans, however, and by noon they’d decided against risking their safety and pulled out of the tournament.
Not wanting to miss another weekend of mat time due to the pesky weather, the Wildcats began looking for other options and quickly decided to join the Rogers (Ark.) Heritage Dual Tournament. Within hours they fired up the busses and made the drive to Rogers, hopped on the mats and defeated four opponents with relative ease. By Saturday afternoon the Wildcats were on their way home having gone 7-0 in duals to cruise to the tournament championship.
Despite having no idea they would be remotely in the vicinity of Rogers, Ark., only 48 hours prior, the Wildcats hoisted the first place award having outscored their seven opponents a combined 484-35.
How’s that for not letting distractions get in the way?
In their first dual of the tournament the Wildcats shut out Springdale Har-Ber, 82-0. At 106 pounds, Neosho’s Dalton Kivett pinned Bosley. 113, John Williams pinned McCracken. 120, Gannon Millard pinned Jennings. 126, Kyler Rea pinned Arindano. 132, Brad Ratliff won by tech fall over Collins, 16-1. 138, Isaac Townsend pinned Morgan. 145, Jason Box pinned Washburn. 152, Chance Branstetter pinned Roberts. 160, Sam Williams pinned Batista. 152, Kyle Hostetter pinned Thornton. 170, Jacob Brock pinned Mathews. 182, Austin Hailey pinned Baker. 195, Ben Elledge won by tech fall over Robertson. 285, Aaron Clardy pinned Espe.
The Wildcats won their second dual 73-3. Kivett won by tech fall over Feast, 20-5. John Williams pinned Vaughn. Millard lost to Smith. Rea won by tech fall over Morris, 26-11. Ratliff pinned Long. Box won by decision over Rains, 7-3. Sam Williams pinned Sowerbower. Brock pinned White. Hailey pinned Montelongo. Elledge pinned Derryberry.
The Wildcats then turned in a perfect dual against Russelville (Ark.), winning 84-0 thanks to pins in every match. John Williams, Millard, Rea, Ratliff, Townsend, Box, Branstetter, Sam Williams, Hostetter, Hailey, Elledge and Clardy all won by pin.
Pittsburg (Kan.) posed little threat to the Wildcats either, as Neosho cruised to a 60-3 victory in its fourth duals victory of the tournament. Kivett won by decision over Hitchcock, 7-4. John Williams lost to Kaster. Trey Smith won by decisio over Jameson, 4-0. Rea pinned Wools. Ratliff won by major decision over Johns, 15-4. Townsend lost to Cobb. Box won by decision over Talley, 11-2. Branstetter pinned O’Dell. Sam Williams won by decision over Wools, 14-3. Hostetter pinned Jones. Brock won by decision over Mengarelli, 5-2. Hailey pinned Woods. Elledge pinned Dalton. Clardy pinned Burch.
Neosho came back on Saturday and thumped Little Rock (Ark.) Catholic, 60-15. Kivett pinned Elmore. John Williams pinned Perkins. Smith won by decision over Buzzita, 4-2. Rea pinned James. Ratliff lost to Chambers. Townsend pinned Phillips. Box pinned Yeary. Williams pinned Ward. Hostetter lost to Volpe. Brock won by decision over Chiles, 3-2. Hailey pinned Roberts. Elledge lost to Hyatt. Carley pinned Ellis.
Page 2 of 2 - The Wildcats tossed Jay (Okla.), 70-6. John Williams won by decision over Hodge, 9-1. Smith won by decision over January, 18-5. Rea pinned Shrum. Ratliff lost to Martinez. Branstetter pinned Perez. Williams won by decision over Reece, 11-4. Meyer pinned Sirmans. Brock won by decision over Williams, 11-2. Elledge pinned Rogers. Clardy pinned West.
Neosho advanced to the finals and defeated Moore (Okla.), 55-8. Kivett pinned Smith. Williams lost to Gundloch. Smith won by decision over Seleznoff, 3-1. Millard won by decision over Day, 14-6. Rea won by decision over Moates, 1-0. Townsend lost to Peterman. Box won by decision over Drake, 4-3. Branstetter lost to Washington. Williams pinned Peck. Hostetter pinned Maxwell. Brock pinned Harrell. Hailey pinned Clapp. Clardy pinned Martian.
Wildcats coach Jeremy Phillips was happy with the way his team performed, especially on short notice.
“Very proud of these guys,” Phillips said. “Great chemistry and just a fun group to coach as they want to grow and get better. (They’re) very coachable right now, and also some great leadership evolving from several.”
Phillips continued: “I think we were all grateful to finally get in some quality mat time the last two days. It was exciting to see all our kids wrestle hard, listen and improve with each opportunity. We have our work cut out for us, but can definitely say we are moving in the right direction. This weekend was fun.”
The Wildcats are back in action with a tough dual at Collinsville, Okla., at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.