Determined to finish strong
Artherton takes hard road to state achievement
Before the 2019 MSHSAA State Championships began, Cassville Coach Nathan Fortner talked about the toughness of Keaton Artherton and how he believed his senior could beat anyone in the bracket and be a tough out at the tournament.
Artherton proved his coach correct with a fourth place finish, the highest finish ever for a Wildcat wrestler.
It was not so much the finish that showed his coach was correct, but the path in which Artherton took to get his medal.
The senior let a late slip to Grant Staffen, of Ste. Genevieve, and lost, 10-8.
That loss sent Artherton into the wrestleback round and meant an exceptionally tough path to a medal. One more loss, and his tournament adventure would be concluded.
“I knew I just needed to keep going and not stop,” Artherton said. “It was a hard way to go.”
Fortner said it’s what’s between his senior’s ears that gave him hope.
“He is one of the mentally tough kids I know,” Fortner said. “The average wrestler isn’t making it through the backside of that bracket. He went through three really good wrestlers to get to the medal round. Then, to win against a kid that had previously pinned us just to get to the third place match tells you what kid of determination he had. I am going to miss coaching him.”
Artherton won his first round wrestleback by pin, then he fought for a 2-1 win over Benton’s Hunter Armstrong.
Artherton then had to dispatch Gabe Hodge, of Pleasant Hill, on Friday night to secure a medal. The Cassville wrestler won his match by pin.
In the consolation semifinal, Artherton won by pin over Blake Howard, of Kirksville before losing a 3-1 decision in sudden victory overtime to Bryce Palmer, of Odessa.
Artherton said he enjoyed his time wrestling at Cassville. He also had some wisdom to pass along to his teammates that will return next season.
“Work hard every day and don’t slouch off,” Artherton said. “You have to be at practice every day and work until you fall apart.”
Fortner said he had four wrestlers just miss qualifying for state, and he plans to hit it hard this summer with camps and practices to get them over the hump and have multiple qualifiers next season.