The Neosho Wildcats started their season with a team win of their home invitational tournament, of which head coach Jeremy Phillips called the toughest competition in the event’s 30-year history.
Neosho makes a trip to Jefferson City for the Missouri Duals on Friday and Saturday at Rackers Fieldhouse, in an event hosted by Helias Catholic.
Neosho won the Missouri Duals last season and have duals Friday against Helias Catholic and Ozark and Saturday against Lebanon, Owensville, Battle, and Grain Valley in Blue Division duals before the place duals.
Gold Division schools are Father Tolton Catholic, Eureka, Waynesville, Lutheran St. Charles, Rock Bridge, Lee’s Summit, and Jefferson City.
“Solid start for our 2017-18 season,” Phillips said in his weekly newsletter. “I was pleased with our attitudes and efforts for our first tournament. I truly believe we got better as a team as the tourney progressed and this is definitely encouraging. We had some very good competition that allowed several of our kids to be tested early. Now what we do from here with our evaluations, reflections, and outcomes will ultimately dictate where we are in the end. I believe we have the potential to be much improved and much tougher if we will take the needed ownership and leadership to grow each and every day. I am excited to see how we embrace the challenges in front of us and take the steps necessary to have the ‘continuous improvement,’ to accomplish the goals we have set in front of us.”
Team wise, Grain Valley finished fourth in Class 3 last season, while Eureka (seventh), Jefferson City (ninth), and Waynesville (17th) finished in the top 20 of Class 4.
At its home tournament, which the Wildcats have won every one since 2007, Neosho earned 224 points, trailed by Lebanon at 183, Rolla 157, Belton 147.5, Hillsboro 111, Farmington 105.5, Willard 96.5, and McDonald County 86.
Adrian Hitchcock (285 pounds) — named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler — took first behind five consecutive pins and his longest match was 1 minute, 20 seconds against Rolla’s Justin Briggs. Hitchcock pinned Lebanon JV’s Race Cottongim in 1:02, Branson’s Damian Chapa in 59 seconds, Willard’s Denis Trif in 17 seconds, and McDonald County’s Bronnie Kinser in 1:02.
Joey Williams (195) placed first with his 5-0 start featuring four wins by pin and one major decision — a 9-0 major decision against Lebanon’s Cody Smith and then pins of Kickapoo’s Noah Jennerjohn in 1:57, Farmington’s Judd Cunningham in 2:18, Belton’s Elijah St. Helene in 1:40, and Rolla’s Colton Franks in 1:48.
Braxton Barnes (138) took first behind three pins, a major decision, and then a 8-5 decision against Rolla’s Coleman Brainerd in the championship match. Barnes pinned Belton’s Bryan Ashbaugh in 1:09, Kickapoo’s Tristan Upp in 1:14, and Lebanon JV’s Hayden Dearborn in 46 seconds, and earned a 12-4 major decision against Lebanon’s Cade Schmitz.
Trenton Young (132) finished 5-0 and first with four pins and one decision, a 5-0 win against Lebanon’s Cole Roark in the championship match. Young pinned McDonald County’s Adrian Ocampo in 30 seconds, Willard’s Ryder Heimbach in 2:37, Farmington’s Samuel Nickelson in 44 seconds, and Branson’s Caden Lorenz in 1:36.
Cayden Auch (106) started his freshman season 5-0 with three decisions and two pins earning him first place in his first varsity tournament. Auch won a 7-3 decision against Farmington’s Austin Wadlow in the finals, a 11-4 decision against Willard’s Christian Finley, and a 4-2 decision against Rolla’s Anthony Sederburg, and pinned McDonald County’s Erin Yang in 45 seconds and Lebanon’s Cole Patton in 2:31.
Kolton Sanders (113), Brady Franklin (120), Alec Rothman (152), Drayke Perry (182), and Zane Persinger (220) each finished second or third.
— Meanwhile, the other three main schools in the Daily News coverage area will be in Carl Junction for the Carl Junction Classic on Saturday.
Seneca, Diamond, and McDonald County face Buffalo, the host, Cassville, Columbus (Kansas), Ladue, Monett, Nevada, Parkview, Reeds Spring, and Webb City. Neosho will have a JV squad.
Seneca won the tournament last season with 438 points, running away from the field with McDonald County second at 215.5. Diamond finished eighth with 123 points.
Seneca’s Levi Connelly, Max Roark, Dalton Hembree, Dayton Fields, Cole Hatfield, and Kale Schrader each won individual titles last season, as did McDonald County’s Bronnie Kinser.