Nixa wrestling sweeps way to CJ Tournament title

A Seneca wrestling team that returned five state qualifiers this winter was no problem for Nixa on Saturday at the 35th Annual Carl Junction Classic wrestling tournament.

The Eagles beat the Indians twice – 49-24 in the morning and then 51-28 in the championship match – while capturing the tournament crown.

Nixa went 5-0 on the day in the dual format event, adding wins against McDonald County (63-18), Frontenac (60-21) and Monett (48-36).

Seniors Dylan Carter and Deagan Fugitt each went 5-0 and combined for nine falls and a major decision. Carter pinned all five of his opponents – three of them in 41 seconds or less – while wrestling at 160 and 152. His longest bout of the day came in the first-place match against Seneca where he pinned Jeremy Williams in 1:48.

Fugitt, a two-time state qualifier, added a 16-3 major decision and finished off Seneca’s Cole Whitehead in 19 seconds in the championship round while wrestling at 132 pounds.

There were plenty of other highlights for the Eagles.

Sophomore Zan Fugitt, a returning state runner-up, pinned all four of his opponents at 113 pounds. He pinned Seneca’s Brady Roark – the Class 2 state runner up at 106 pounds – in 1:22 and pinned Seneca’s Brayden Thiel, a state qualifier at 113, in 45 seconds.

Junior Peyton Moore was 4-0 at 120 and 126 with four falls, junior John Gholson earned three falls while wrestling at 220 and 285 and junior Cole Crahan added three falls while wrestling at 138 and 145. Sophomore Avry Rutherford went 4-1 at 182 pounds, only losing to Monett’s Ethan Umfleet, a third-place state medalist last season.

Seneca seeks more consistency

Only one member of the Seneca wrestling team came away from Saturday completely unscathed – junior Gabriel Commons.

The returning state qualifier pinned all three of his opponents and also picked up two forfeits while wrestling at 170 pounds.

“I think mostly the kids that were supposed to win won their matches,” head coach Jeff Sill said. “We had some kids step up and as a team when we had to get bonus points to obtain some victories they did that.”

“We’re just going to have to wrestle with more consistency throughout the year,” he said. “As far as the kids, this is a good test, a gauge to see what we need to get back in the room and work on.”

Six other Indians lost just once on Saturday. Alex Mejia-Jerez was 4-1 with three falls while wrestling at 106 and 113. Sophomore Brady Roark was 4-1 with three falls; his lone loss came in a battle of state second-place finishers against Nixa’s Fugitt. Junior Brayden Thiel was 4-1 with three falls at 120 pounds, only losing to Fugitt.

Senior Clayton Swadley also went 4-1 with two falls at 145 pounds, and sophomore Lincoln Renfro was 4-1 at 152, including a 20-4 technical fall and a 10-2 major decision.

Seneca was 3-2 overall, knocking off Frontenac 59-15 and McDonald County 59-24. The Indians edged Carl Junction 40-39 in a semifinal match.

“With Frontenac we started off wrestling well, we didn’t really know them real good but the kids stepped up and wrestled well,” Sill said. “Against Carl, we just dualed them the other night so they’re pretty fresh on our minds but I thought they closed the gap on us a little bit.”

“We just don’t match up very well with Nixa at all,” he said. “They’re tough in their lightweights and in their upperweights they have some really solid wrestlers. Hopefully we can close the gap on them later in the season. There are a couple places we might get to see them.”

Carl Junction edges Monett for third place

The defending Class 2 champion Cubs jumped out to a 27-12 advantage in the third-place match against Carl Junction and led 33-24 with four bouts remaining.

But the Bulldogs won at 106, 113, 120 and 126 and scored two major decisions and a fall in the process to win 41-33. Carl Junction beat Monett 48-36 earlier in the day.

Lukas Walker won 10-0 over Monett’s Simon Hartline at 106 pounds, Drake Richardson won 9-1 against Julio Cruz Jr. at 113, Max Matthews won a 5-3 sudden victory over Karey Anderson at 120 and Dylan Frazier pinned Angel Mejia-Soto at 126.

Walker, a sophomore, had a highlight day for Carl Junction with five wins. He pinned his first four opponents and added the major decision in the championship. Drake Richardson won by fall and by major decision at 113 pounds, Arlen Wakefield won twice by fall at 145 pounds and Cayden Bollinger added two pins at 220 pounds. Max Matthews was 4-1 at 120 pounds.

Senior Jesse Cassatt, who won the state championship at 195, won by fall in his only bout.

Carl Junction defeated Buffalo 54-24 and Grandview 54-25 in other action. The Bulldogs went 4-1.

Monett, meanwhile, defeated Grandview 54-25 and Buffalo 61-18 in the Cubs’ only wins of the day. The team saw impressive showings from its group of returning state qualifiers, though.

Junior Harrison Merriman, the defending state champion at 285 pounds, won by fall in his only two matches Saturday. He needed 57 seconds in the first and 59 seconds in the second.

Returning third-place medalists Matthew Bahl (138 pounds), Elias Barrientos (152) and Ethan Umfleet (182) combined to go 13-1 with 12 pins. Bahl, a senior, suffered the only loss. Barrientos was 5-0 and Umfleet 4-0.

Junior Corbin McCully went 4-0 at 170 pounds with three falls.

Frontenac defeated Buffalo 37-33 in the fifth-place match, while McDonald County downed Grandview 36-34 for seventh place. Buffalo also had a 42-35 win against Grandview.