Nine out of the 10 Neosho High School wrestlers alive in the Class 3 semifinal and third-round wrestleback rounds survived to wrestle on Saturday at the 2011 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.

Nine out of the 10 Neosho High School wrestlers alive in the Class 3 semifinal and third-round wrestleback rounds survived to wrestle on Saturday at the 2011 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.

The Wildcats will have four wrestlers battling for championships when the title matches begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

Nate Rodriguez (119), Carter Boatright (140), Blake Stauffer (171) and Dallas Smith (189) will all be going for gold.

Five other Wildcats have secured at least a medal Saturday, with how high a place in the standings to be determined.

In the semifinals, River Buttram (103), Payne Hatter (152) and Chase Espinosa (160) all lost their matches and will drop down to the fourth round of wrestlebacks, which begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The third- and fifth-place matches will start at noon.

In the third-round of wrestlebacks, Tanner Schaack (112) and Trevor Hughes (125) each won their matches to secure a medal.

The only Neosho wrestler to not advance Friday night was NHS senior Matt Millard, who lost his third-round wrestleback match in the third overtime period on a reverse to Ryan Roth of Ft. Zumwalt North. Millard's time at the state meet ends one win away from a medal.

Semifinal round

Carter Boatright can sniff another gold medal.

Four years ago as a freshman, Boatright made his debut on the big stage at the state tournament and came away with a gold medal at 103 pounds.

The following two years at state, Boatright came away with medals — but neither of them gold.

Now, as a senior in his last state meet, Boatright now again has a shot at gold after defeating Gage Harrison of Oak Park in the semifinal round. It was the first loss for Harrison this season, as he entered the state meet with a 21-0 record.

After a scoreless first period, Boatright gained the lead with a takedown and led 2-0 after two periods.

Boatright lost the momentum in the third period. After an escape to open the period, Harrison rebounded with a takedown. Boatright escaped again to go up 4-2, but again Harrison responded with another takedown to tie the match at 4-4.

Boatright managed another escape in the final minute, and then held on for the win.

After the win, Boatright pumped his fist in the air toward the Neosho crowd. Boatright continued to show emotion as the referee raised his arm in the air. As he walked off the mat, Boatright continued to gesture toward the crowd along with his coaches.

At 119 pounds, Rodriguez will again wrestle for a state title this year after defeating Kearney's Seth Brayfield 8-0 in the semifinal round Friday night. Rodriguez won silver at 103 pounds as a freshman, and will be going for gold this year against a familiar opponent.

In the other semifinal, Carthage's Nate Kelly defeated Dane Bethel of Lebanon to make it a Central Ozark Conference final on Saturday night. Rodriguez defeated Kelly by pin to win the Class 3-District 3 title a week ago.

At 171 pounds, Stauffer continued his dominance as he rattled off seven unanswered points in the first period on Farmington's Brett Bader, who had only lost four matches thus far this season. Stauffer would win by pin at the 2:44 mark.

Like his senior teammate, Smith dominated his semifinal match against Summit's Drew Lance. Smith scored a takedown in the first period to go up 2-0 and added a takedown and an escape in the second period to finish with a 5-0 victory.

At 103 pounds, Buttram's undefeated run in the state tournament came to an end after a 9-0 loss to Noah Teaney of Oak Park. Teaney built a 4-0 lead after the second period, and then put the match out of reach with a takedown and a near fall in the final two minutes.

Hatter lost his bid for a chance at gold after getting pinned by Cole Reedy of Ft. Zumwalt North. The two were tied 4-4 after the second period, and then Hatter took the lead with a reversal early in the third.

Hatter then shrugged off two strong reversal chances by Reedy, before giving in on his third reversal try that tied the match at 6 with 40 seconds left.

Hatter responded with a reversal of his own with 15 seconds left, but couldn't hold on for the win in regulation. Reedy scored another reversal with two seconds remaining in regulation to tie it at 8-8 and force overtime.

In the overtime, Reedy gained the advantage and ulitimately the win by pin.

At 160 pounds, Espinosa faced Patrick Rhoads of Staley, who entered the tournament 47-1.

Rhoads lived to the hype, posting a strong 5-0 win over Espinosa. Rhoads had control for the majority of the match, icing the win with a takedown at the 4:30 mark.

Third-round wrestlebacks

After losing his first-ever match at the state tournament, Neosho senior Tanner Schaack continued his adventure through the choppy waters that are the wrestleback rounds.

Schaack, after winning in overtime in the second round of wrestlebacks, scored a takedown each in the first and third periods en route to a 4-1 victory over Kyle Shaner of Carthage.

The victory guarantees Schaack will leave Mizzou Arena Saturday with a state medal around his neck as one of the top six wrestlers at 112 pounds in Class 3.

At 125 pounds, Hughes — a defending state champion at 119 pounds from a year ago — continued his improbable recovery from a shoulder injury that caused him to injury default in the quarterfinals as he stayed alive with another win in the third round of wrestlebacks.

Hughes held on for a 2-1 decision over Nicholas Koon to make sure he leaves Columbia one last time with a state medal — his third in his career at NHS.