NEVADA, Mo. — There’s something about the Big 8 Conference tournament that seems to bring out the best in Jeff Sill’s Seneca wrestling team.
With five individual champions and a pair of runners-up, the Indians amassed 358 team points to best rival Monett and claim a second consecutive Big 8 Conference tournament title on Friday night at Nevada High School.
And similar to last season’s circumstance, Seneca bounced back from a 47-36 dual loss to Monett to claim the conference championship over the Cubs one night later.
“Coach (Daryl) Bradley and his Monett team are great opponents, and we’ve had some battles over the years,” said Sill, who was named the conference coach of the year at the end of Friday’s event. “Coming in here and being able to walk out as champions really means a lot to us, and it says a lot about their program also. It’s a great achievement for this team.”
Runner-up Monett tallied 337 points and was followed by third-place Marshfield (297), fourth-place Rogersville (223) and fifth-place McDonald County (187.5). Cassville (168) and Nevada (143) took sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 10-team tournament.
Of the 14 weight classes, Seneca and Monett crowned a combined 11 individual champions. The Indians tallied five champions and the Cubs six.
The Indians trailed Monett by 21/2 points heading into the final round (championship and third-place matches) before they logged seven pins to jump the Cubs in the standings.
“We had to score pin points, and those bonus points really helped us out,” Sill said. “And we beat some kids who had beaten us before. So we just focused on the little things and took it one match at a time.”
Seneca got off to a hot start in the finals as Brady Roark (106 pounds), Brayden Thiel (113) and Kendon Pollard (120) won the first three championship matches. Each of the wins came via fall, with Roark pinning Rogersville’s Jacob Foster in the first period, Thiel pinning McDonald County’s Eh Doh Say in the third period and Pollard pinning McDonald County’s Levi Smith in the second period.
Rounding out Seneca’s individual champions were Zane Cotton (182), a 14-5 victor over Cassville’s Logan Tolbert, and Skyleer Commons (220), who pinned Monett’s Raymond Villalta with four seconds remaining in the third period.
“I knew what we could do (heading into the finals round),” Sill said. “I told our kids that the bonus points were going to come, and if we wrestled someone from Monett, we can’t give up the pin and try to secure the win.”
The Indians officially clinched the team title once Trey Wilson pinned Monett’s Jr. Villa in the first period of the third-place match at 195.
For Monett, Matthew Bahl (126) secured the team’s first gold medal with a 3-0 decision over Rogersville’s Riley Williams. Joseph Semerad (138) then won his title match with a second-period fall over Marshfield’s Braeden Brooks before Elias Barrientos (145), Gunnar Bradley (152) and Ethan Umfleet (160) won their finals matches.
Barrientos earned a 7-2 decision over Marshfield’s Ruger Leppert, while Bradley pinned McDonald County’s Jack Teague and Umfleet pinned Seneca’s Gabriel Commons.
Heavyweight Harrison Merriman rounded out Monett’s title winners by defeating Seneca’s Grant Durman 7-0.
“Last year, we lost to Seneca by like a point, and this year, it wasn’t really close,” Bradley said. “We just didn’t finish. We had our opportunities. … I knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in, but we’ve got to step up and wrestle. We didn’t do that today. Seneca did.
“This rivalry is strong, and it is what it is. We’ve competed with (Seneca) forever and it’s a good rivalry. They kind of bring out the best in us sometimes, and I think a lot of our guys took care of business when we wrestled them head to head. But they’re tough and have tough kids. I know we have tough kids too.”
Rogersville’s Jay Strausbaugh was named the Big 8 Conference Wrestler of the Year after he won the 132-pound championship with a 4-3 triumph over Monett’s Karter Brink. Two-time state placer and one-time state champion Oscar Ortiz of McDonald County took third in the same bracket.
BIG 8 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
1, Seneca 358. 2, Monett 337. 3, Marshfield 297. 4, Rogersville 223. 5, McDonald County 187.5. 6, Cassville 168. 7, Nevada 143. 8, Reeds Spring 103. 9, Hollister 57. 10, Springfield Catholic 27.
106—1, Brady Roark, Seneca, pinned Jacob Foster, Rogersville, 1:45. 3, Blaine Ortiz, McDonald County pinned Braylin Brooks, Nevada, 2:38. 5, Kurt Deaver, Cassville, pinned Karey Anderson, Monett, 1:57.
113—1, Brayden Thiel, Seneca, pinned Eh Doh Say, McDonald County, 5:33. 3, Tommy Mynatt, Marshfield, pinned Lane Brooks, Nevada 5:33. 5, Edgar Perez, Cassville, pinned Derek Dutton, Hollister, 3:03.
120—1, Kendon Pollard, Seneca, pinned Levi Smith, McDonald County, 2:32. 3, Damian Dockery, Marshfield, dec. Ethan Dighero, Nevada, 11-8. 5, Akhilleus Arguelles, Cassville, pinned Chase Johnson, Reeds Spring, 1:59.
126—1, Matthew Bahl, Monett, dec. Riley Williams, Rogersville, 3-0. 3, Damien Pera, Hollister, pinned Cole Whitehead, Seneca, 2:39. 5, Caleb Allen, Reeds Spring, dec. Joseph Martin, Marshfield, 8-4.
132—1, Jay Strausbaugh, Rogersville, dec. Karter Brink, Monett, 4-3. 3, Oscar Ortiz, McDonald County, tech. fall Clayton Swadley, Seneca, 27-10. 5, Jake Anthonysz, Cassville, pinned Braeden Young, Marshfield, 2:57.
138—1, Joseph Semerad, Monett, pinned Braeden Brooks, Marshfield, 2:58. 3, Jordan Meador, McDonald County, pinned Kit Farran, Rogersville, 3:36. 5, Lincoln Renfro, Seneca, tech. fall Easton Byrne, Reeds Spring, 15-0.
145—1, Elias Barrientos, Monett, dec. Ruger Leppert, Marshfield, 7-2. 3, Jakob McCracken, Reeds Spring, major dec. Corbin Eastwood, Nevada, 12-3. 5, Owen Christian, Rogersville, pinned Rylan Newell, Hollister, 2:41.
152—1, Gunnar Bradley, Monett, pinned Jack Teague, McDonald County, 3:06. 3, Dane Napier, Seneca, Dec. Isaiah Ragsdale, Marshfield, 11-8. 5, Keaton Christian, Rogersville, received forfeit.
160—1, Ethan Umfleet, Monett, pinned Gabriel Commons, Seneca, 3:44. 3, Evan Wilson, Reeds Spring, pinned Gauge Boyd, Nevada, 4:15. 5, Ben Wirtel, Marshfield, pinned Brennan Cieslinski, Cassville, 1:18.
170—1, Elijah Horne, Marshfield, pinned Gage Meadors, Rogersville, 3:40. 3, Gabe Smith, Nevada, pinned Brock Marquardt, Nevada, 2:00. 5, Joe Korasick, Monett, pinned Nicholas Rogers, Reeds Spring, 0:48.
182—1, Zane Cotton, Seneca, major dec. Logan Tolbert, Cassville, 14-5. 3, Garrett Cantrell, Marshfield, pinned Dru Guinn, Monett, 3:18. 6, Davin Agee, Rogersville, received bye.
195—1, Daylon Kanengieter, Marshfield, pinned Zach Coenen, Cassville, 5:09. 3, Trey Wilson, Seneca, pinned Jr. Villa, Monett, 1:54. 5, Carson Combs, Rogersville, major dec. Logan Smith, Nevada, 11-1.
220—1, Skyleer Commons, Seneca, pinned Raymond Villalta, Monett, 5:56. 3, Eli Steffen, Marshfield, pinned Adam Reaves, Rogersville, 3:32. 5, McCoy Ikosia, McDonald County, pinned Nate Boley, Cassville, 4:49.
285—1, Harrison Merriman, Monett, dec. Grant Durman, Seneca, 7-0. 3, Garrett Kritz, Cassville, pinned Eyan Collins, Springfield Catholic, 3:28. 5, Bobby Maples, Marshfield, pinned Skylur Mashek, Nevada, 1:14.