Harrisonville wrestling coach Eric DeVenney didn’t foresee having an all-underclassmen contingent at state. With all the seniors on the Wildcats squad this season, he expected to take a more seasoned squad to Columbia.
That’s not how it turned out, however.
“We usually have a senior or two,” DeVenney said. “This was an exceptional senior class with a lot of hard workers. They just came up a little short.”
DeVenney’s seniors came up short at last week’s Missouri Class 2 District 3 meet in Bolivar, but he said the Wildcats will still be well represented by the four underclassmen who qualified for the Missouri state tournament, which started Feb. 20. Harrisonville is one of five Cass County schools with wrestlers competing in the four classes through Feb. 22. at Mizzou Arena.
Harrisonville will have three juniors - Ty Cochran, Jericho Harris and Austin Moreland – and freshman Austin Schaub. And while the Wildcats may be lacking for upperclassmen, they won’t be lacking experience.
Cochran, who has a 44-5 record, is a two-time state medalist and is coming off a first place finish at 126 pounds at districts. Harris, 29-15 at 120 pounds, is also a state tournament veteran.
DeVenney said even 106-pounder Schaub, while just a freshman, had plenty of junior league bouts under his belt.
“Jericho and Ty have been workhorses all year,” DeVenney said, “I think they’re all four pretty well-balanced kids. I expect the kids to push themselves and work well together.”
With only four entries, Harrisonville might be hard-pressed to compete in the Class 2 team race. DeVenney wouldn’t rule it out though, not if his wrestlers can maintain the one-match-at-a-time focus he’s been stressing lately.
“If the kids take care of their own stuff then that will take care of team stuff,” DeVenney said. “Our goal is to bring home some gold medals. To get those medals we’ll need to focus on one match at a time.”
Pleasant Hill should be in the thick of the Class 2 team competition after winning the district in Bolivar. With eight qualifiers, the Roosters have the biggest Cass County contingent at state.
Pleasant Hill features senior heavyweight Dalainey Taala, who takes a 43-3 record into state, and junior Kolin Rogers, who is 45-5 at 160. The Roosters also have freshman Larry Kiger at 106 pounds, sophomore Cole Sullivan at 132, sophomore Olin Brattin at 138, senior Brady Franklin at 145, senior Cole Reeves at 195 and freshman Tommy Williams at 220.
“We have a nice mixture of younger and more experienced wrestlers,” Pleasant Hill coach Jeff Wyatt said. “We are hoping that combination makes for a great finish this year and a few years to come.”
Raymore-Peculiar has four entries in the Class 4 meet. Senior Carter Mackender, who took the 220 title at last week’s District 3 meet in Waynesville, comes in with a 9-1 record while senior Mac Diaz is 35-7 at 145. The Panthers also have juniors Jacob Paddock at 160 and Kason Tabor at 195.
Belton advanced four into the Class 3 meet. Caleb Chevalier is 44-5 at 152, while Sergio Ramos enters the 220 bracket with a 29-9 mark. The Pirates also have Malik Clayborn at 195 and Tyler Gorman at heavyweight.
Sherwood has two wrestlers in the Class 1 meet. Curtis Quick is 36-2 at 160 while Hunter Davis is 21-8 at 170. Both seniors placed second in their district.