Goal-oriented ‘Cats state-bound

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Wyatt Goade earns escape points during his state-qualifying match at districts. Contributed photo

2 Cassville grapplers make trek north this week

A year ago, Cassville wrestling was just hoping to get qualifiers to the state tournament.

They did, with two state qualifiers.

Michael Hunter takes control of a match for the Wildcats at the district tournament on Saturday. Contributed photo

This year, the goal was to take the next step as a program and show growth and get back to state, and they did.

This week, Keaton Artherton and Wyatt Goade will don the black and gold in Columbia beginning Thursday.

“All season long, we’ve wrestled tough competition,” said Nathan Fortner, Cassville coach. “We dueled Seneca, Monett and Neosho, who were all ranked No. 1 in Class 1, 2 and 4. We went to the Branson tourney, Pleasant Hope tourney and gritted our way through tough matches.”

Keaton Artherton punched his ticket to the state tournament with a fourth-place finish at districts on Saturday. Contributed photo

For the Wildcats, the growth can be seen in an eighth-place finish at the 15-team Class 2, District 3 tourney on Saturday.

While eighth place may not initially sound impressive, four teams in Monett, Odessa, Bolivar and Logan-Rogersville, which were ranked No. 1, No. 2, No. 9 and No. 10 respectively in Class 2, were the tourney field.

The Wildcats were 11th in the field last season and only scored 41 points. This year, they finished eighth and totaled 71 points.

Even more impressive was the fact that Gabe Hunter, Caleb Lucero, Jaden Davis and Michael Hunter were just a single match away from also qualifying for state.

“We are almost there,” Fortner said. “I already have guys that want to club wrestle in the spring, and that was something we didn’t have a year ago.”

For the Wildcats, Artherton will represent the team in the 138-pound class after a fourth-place district finish.

“He’s an aggressive kid that is great on his feet,” Fortner said. “As a junior, he hasn’t backed away from anybody. He just needs to take it one match at a time.”

Goade is looking to make his senior year special.

Last year, the 170-pounder won the school’s state medal.

This year, he is looking to climb the ladder a bit more.

“He is a tough wrestler that has been to state before,” Fortner said. “This year, he has been our leader and he has taken on a more vocal role. I expect his to give 100 percent this weekend.”

Matches begin Thursday.

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