Taking aim at top 3s
Cassville girls ready for sectional challenge
Eight Cassville girls will have the opportunity on Saturday to qualify for the state wrestling tournament, all searching for top 3 finishes at the sectional round in Harrisonville.
Nathan Fortner, Cassville wrestling coach, said with the weather this week, preparations will be a challenge, but the Lady Wildcats are ready to meet it.
“Practice and travel this week will be interesting,” Fortner said Monday morning. “We hope to practice some this week, but we don’t know. At sectionals, we are expecting the same things we’ve been expecting all year — to wrestle hard and compete, and we are focused and ready to go.”
Fortner said 48 teams will be involved in Saturday’s tournament, with each weight class containing eight wrestlers, and only the top three earning bids to state on March 9 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.
“We’re not scared to go up against anyone, and we’re excited to see what we can do,” Fortner said. “We hope to take at least half our girls to state, but I’ve seen the brackets, and it will be tough to get one girl through, let alone four or more, but I think we can do it.”
Leading the Lady Wildcats are three returning state qualifiers — sophomore Annie Moore (28-1), sophomore Kailey Artherton (35-4) and junior Kelsey Harris (30-2).
“We don’t believe in rankings too much, but Annie is going in to sectionals as No. 1 in the state,” Fortner said. “So, she’s going to have a target on her back. We don’t talk about rankings much because I’ve never seen a tournament really play out according to rankings.”
Also heading to sectionals are a quartet of freshmen: Zoey Stanton (16-18), Hailey Roark (31-6), Faith James (15-4) and Taylor Glidewell (13-17).
“They all have an outside shot to get to state,” Fortner said. “We also have junior Ryleigh Burnette (19-7), and she’s getting better every time she steps on the mat. She’s only been wrestling since December.”
Fortner said the goal on Saturday is to take the tournament one match at a time.
“We’ve tried to focus on doing that all year in preparation for this time of the season,” he said. “If we lose, we talk about it and how we make progress toward the postseason. Now, it’s win or go home. We have got to perform, because if you lose, it could be the end of your season.”
Given what’s on the line, Fortner said he has high expectations.
“I think we will rise to the challenge,” he said. “We are ready to go, and we all have the goal to qualify.”