Neosho continues to showcase its talent in one of the best wrestling tournaments in the country.

Neosho continues to showcase its talent in one of the best wrestling tournaments in the country.

The Wildcats took 10th place in the Kansas City Stampede, a two-day tournament at Hale Arena at the American Royal Center. Neosho finished with 296 points.

At one point Saturday, Neosho was sitting in 16th place but surged up to a top-10 finish. Only one other Missouri team, Wentzville Timberland in eighth, placed that high.

Oklahoma teams dominated the top 10, but Archer High School from Lawrenceville, Ga., claimed the championship. The rest of the top ten, following Archer was Stillwater, Okla., Tuttle, Okla., Bettendorft, Iowa, Edmond (Okla.) North, Collinsville, Okla., Perry, Okla., Timberland and Sand Springs, Okla.

"It means that had we bounced back after some tough losses, we would be closer to bringing hardware home," Neosho coach Jeremy Phillips said. "We had some high expectations and challenging goals going in and even after today we know it was not unrealistic. It just means we have work to do mentally, more than anything. We gotta bounce back from those heart-break matches. Technically we have several things to work on, too. Little things have to be reviewed and implemented to be higher percentage from each position."

Neosho had a pair of sixth-place showings, while three others had top 10 finishes in a field that featured 27 all-American wrestlers, 46 champions and 16 teams that were team champions the previous year.

Kyler Rea (126 pound) and Jacob Brock (182) each finished sixth, recording 49 points each for Neosho.

Rea had a bye and then won his first four matches, before falling to Ryan Millhoff of Collins Hill, Ga., by major decision, 9-0, in the quarterfinals. Millhoff signed recently to wrestle at Oklahoma and is ranked No. 1 in the nation in his weight class.

Rea bounced back with wins over by decisions Marco Perez of Arkansas City, Kan., and Cody Karstetter of Sand Springs.

Brock followed a similar path with a bye and then four straight wins. In the quarterfinals – where weighted points were handed out – Brock lost 11-2 to Archer's Quinn Miller. Brock bounced back with wins over Nixa's Christian Lance (3-1) and Staley's Eric Quador (5-2) to wrap up his day.

Sam Williams (152) placed seventh, notching seven wins on the day. His first loss came in the quarterfinals to Daniel Lewis of Blue Springs, by a pin in 50 seconds. Williams then bested Waynesville's David Hawk by major decision, 10-0, before losing to Staley's Jayden Bears in the 7th-place match, 1-0.

Austin Hailey and Ben Elledge, placed ninth and 10th, respectively.

Hailey (195) won six matches, including his ninth-place match against Tuttle's Riley Fielder, pinning him in the third period. Fielder, incidentally, beat Hailey, 5-2, in the first round of the championship bracket. Hailey won three of his last four matches, with the only loss to Dylan Gray of Granite City (Ill).

Elledge, like others, lost in the quartefinals, 5-3 to Timberland's Robert Schneider. Elledge pinned Perry's Bo Montez in the consolation part of the bracket, but dropped three of his final four matches. In the ninth-place contest, he lost 5-2 to Archer's Jacob Lill.

Other Neosho wrestlers competing were: Dalton Kivett (106, 28th place); Jonathan Williams (113, 28th place), Trey Smith (120, 28th place); Bradley Ratliff (132, 28th place); Jason Box (138, 17th place); Cody Rains (145); Chance Branstetter (152, 15th); Kyle Hostetter (170, 12th); Aaron Clardy (285, 11th).

The tournament was a good test for the Wildcats, according to Phillips, who said it provided a good opportunity for his team to face some of the toughest wrestlers in the country. Phillips also said he’s more worried about seeing his team improve here in the early stages of the season so that they’re more prepared for the postseason.

“It’s like I keep telling the kids; it’s not where we start, it’s where we finish,” he said.
Neosho returns to action this weekend in the Granite City Tournament in Granite City, Ill., just east of St. Louis, Mo., where they’ll again compete against some of the nation’s best talent.