The Neosho Wildcats left for Columbia on Wednesday morning but not before a send-off at Neosho High including fellow students, faculty and staff, parents, and community members.

The Neosho Wildcats left for Columbia on Wednesday morning but not before a send-off at Neosho High including fellow students, faculty and staff, parents, and community members.
Neosho head coach Jeremy Phillips addressed the crowd for a few minutes.
“Our motto this season has been ‘Be A Finisher,’” he said. “And the finish is right before us. Part of that finish is having a very good to great district tournament leading into state. Last weekend, we set ourselves up to have that great finish with 11 state qualifiers. There were nine finalists, six champions, three runner-ups, one third and one fourth. Very pleased and proud of how they competed and battled at districts. We had three who came up short, but that’s where I want to go to next.
“I want to thank those guys who have stayed around after not making it to state and our JV team for helping us prepare for that last battle. The state tournament is a three-day battle. We’re looking to be (disruption in the crowd) … ‘Fellas, you can go back to class if you’re not going to be respectful. They deserve your respect. You’re out there for them. I’m speaking about them. Thank you.’
“We go in looking with that quote I say a lot, ‘Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ’Til your good is better and your better is best.’ We’ve got to go in Day 1 and be good. We’ve got to be better on the next day and we’ve got to be at our best.”
Neosho’s 11 state qualifiers are freshman Kolton Sanders (106 pounds, 35-20), senior Dalton Kivett (113, 47-4), junior Trenton Young (126, 44-8), senior Gannon Millard (132, 41-5), sophomore Braxton Barnes (138, 42-9), senior Kyle Sanders (160, 34-18), junior Joey Williams (170, 47-4), senior Johnny Meyer (182, 44-9), senior Zach Plummer (195, 35-14), senior Christian Nutz (220, 31-14) and junior Adrian Hitchcock (285, 47-2).
“I have an amazing group of support,” Phillips said. “These guys, we don’t do it alone. It’s a combination of people acting together. FDR said, ‘People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope.’ These guys don’t step on the mat as one. Well, they do. We are one — one focus, one family, one direction. Within our family, our coaching staff, our kids, our parents, administrators, our student body, hopefully you guys will all support us, even if you’re not there you’re with us in spirit.
“I truly believe a key for us to finish as one is keeping the faith in our fight. We’re going to the state tournament with the motto ‘Eyes up, rise up.’ We’re going to keep our eyes up. Things are going to be tough. There’s going to be times where we didn’t expect things to happen … adversity hits us, but we’ve got to smack it back in the mouth, get back up and be ready to go again.
“I never make any promises, except for that we’re going to work our tails off to make our program, our school and our community proud.”
The Wildcats are vying for their fifth straight Class 3 title and their seventh in the last eight years.
Opening matches for Class 3 begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena.

Kolton Sanders draws Belton sophomore Braden Bradley (39-6) in his opening match. Bradley is ranked No. 1 by
Other ranked wrestlers in the field include Kearney’s James Freitag (34-8), Helias Catholic’s Evan Winder (44-6), McDonald County’s Oscar Ortiz (42-6), St. Charles’ Ben Bohr (42-4) and Willard’s Riley Wertz (42-7). Freitag and Wertz face each other in the opening round.
Sanders lost matches against Ortiz, but he defeated Wertz on a 8-5 decision to finish third in the season-opening Neosho Tournament back in early December. Wertz did win a 10-8 sudden victory at the COC Large Tournament and a 5-1 overtime victory last week against Sanders. Sanders did not wrestle Winder in the Missouri Duals, instead facing Aleksey Salaz as Winder wrestled Kivett.
Platte County’s Cody Phippen won state at 106 last season, but he now wrestles at 113. Bradley placed fourth last season, losing a 12-4 major decision to Kivett in the third place match.

Kivett meets Rockwood Summit’s J.T. Hale (28-15) in the opening round. Kivett is ranked No. 2.
Other ranked wrestlers are Phippen (42-3), Washington’s Cody Hey (32-5), Smithville’s Blake Ackerman (41-11), William Chrisman’s Tyler Hamm (not in the field) and Farmington’s Bradly Harman (36-7). Kivett pinned Harman in 31 seconds for the Neosho title in December.
Kearney’s Clayton Singh wrestled Neosho’s Young for the 113 title last season, but they have moved up weight classes. Harman placed third last season.

Young faces Desoto senior Zachary Nash (26-19) in his opening match. Young is ranked No. 3 by MissouriWrestling, behind Fort Zumwalt South’s Cameron Rudy (44-2) and Rolla’s Tristan Barr (46-1).
Other ranked wrestlers are Grain Valley’s Mitchell Alexander (31-6), Battle’s Andrew Shea (33-8) and Platte County’s Austin Kincaid (29-16).
Young finished second at districts last Saturday, losing a 3-1 decision in overtime to Barr. Young won a 5-2 decision against Alexander in the Missouri Duals.
Barr placed fourth at 126 last season.

Top-ranked Millard draws Fort Zumwalt East’s Rylan Besaw (22-12) for his opener.
Other ranked wrestlers are Kearney’s Devan Lewis (32-8), Rockwood Summit’s Sam Frankowski (41-3), Fort Zumwalt South’s Steve Tran (37-12), Willard’s Alex Garrett (37-7) and Pacific’s Gage Kassing (34-9).
Millard placed fourth at 132 last season, a title won by Platte County’s unbeaten Matthew Schmidt, a wrestler who moved on to college.
Millard won a 5-1 decision last week over Garrett for the district title and a 10-5 decision recently for the COC title.

Barnes wrestles Westminster Christian’s Lucas Chimento on Thursday. Barnes is ranked No. 6.
Other ranked wrestlers include Grain Valley’s Wolfgang Clapper (40-0), Warrensburg’s Taylor Brown (49-2), Smithville’s Alex Rivera (44-3), Rolla’s Coleman Brainerd (44-4) and Wentzville Liberty’s Christian Zeik (23-1).
Barnes won a district title last week with a pin of Brainerd in 6:19. Clapper won a 6-4 decision against Barnes in the Missouri Duals.
Clapper finished third at 138 last season.

Kyle Sanders draws Webster Groves senior Noah Perkins (38-5) in the first round.
Ranked wrestlers are Harrisonville’s Braden Danner (31-3), Ladue’s Jacob Orsay (38-0), Perkins, Grain Valley’s Ralph Hernandez (33-8), Warrenton’s Jerrett Villinger (38-4) and Farmington’s Dylan Allen (38-6). Hernandez and Villinger wrestle in the first round, with Allen and Danner on the same half of the bracket.
Sanders lost a 10-3 decision to Hernandez in the Missouri Duals and lost a 2-1 decision to Allen in the Neosho Tournament.

Williams battles Battle senior Hunter Smith (27-10) in the opener Thursday. Williams is ranked No. 2.
Other ranked wrestlers are Raytown South’s Ottis Peeler (37-0), Rolla’s Seth Veatch (26-2), Platte County’s Dakota Schmidt (42-11), Warrenton’s Drake Meine (34-2) and Harrisonville’s Sam East (not in draw).
Williams beat Veatch on a 6-2 decision for the district title last week.
Peeler and Veatch finished second and sixth at 170 last season.

Meyer wrestles Sikeston’s Joshua Stinnett (47-3) in a match of wrestlers with a combined 91-12 mark. Meyer and Stinnett are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Other ranked wrestlers are Webb City’s Hunter Vanlue (48-0), Windsor’s Ryan Yarnell (40-1), Warrensburg’s Dayton Brown (45-5) and Union’s Haiden Meyer (36-7).
Meyer lost multiple matches against Vanlue, including two at the COC Large Tournament.

Plummer takes on McCluer’s Lyndel Owens (25-12) in the opener.
Ranked wrestlers are Smithville’s Jacob Boyd (48-2), Willard’s Christian Smart (40-4), Republic’s Hunter Pyle (42-5), Platte County’s Sage Smart, Union’s Dylan Ahern (35-6) and Festus’ Tyler Sexton (40-5).
Plummer won a 3-2 decision against Pyle at districts, but Willard’s Smart won a 3-2 decision against Plummer for the district title. Neosho freshman Zane Persinger wrestled at 195 at the COC Large Tournament.

Nutz faces Marshall senior Edward Hecke (23-15) on Thursday.
Ranked wrestlers are Hitchcock (wrestling at 285), Platte County’s Casey Jumps (43-4), Warrenton’s Jacob Null (35-2), Kearney’s Clayton Mordecai (36-9), Belton’s Malik Clayborn (19-8) and Sikeston’s Landon Griggs (not in draw).
Jumps placed fifth at state last season.

Top-ranked Hitchcock draws Warrenton’s Brendon Cotner (27-16) first.
Other ranked wrestlers include McDonald County’s Bronnie Kinser (43-7), Carl Junction’s Zeke Wall (37-7), Harrisonville’s Austin Campbell (21-5), Desoto’s Landon Porter (36-6), St. Charles’ Cody Imbierowicz (38-9) and University City’s Jonathan York (40-6).
Hitchcock has contributed multiple losses to Kinser and Wall this season, as Hitchcock pinned Wall at both the COC Large and district tournaments.