Wildcats lock in for sectionals
6 grapplers aim to punch tickets to state
The Cassville boys wrestling team hits the road to Seneca on Saturday, aiming to punch as many as six tickets to the State Tournament on March 11.
Competing for the Wildcats are: Kurt Deaver at 106, Matthew Whittenburg at 126, Gavin Moore at 132, Gabe Hunter at 138, Jake Anthonysz at 145 and Zach Coenen at 220.
Nathan Fortner, Cassville wrestling coach, said he’s excited to see what his team can do at the 14-team sectional round.
“We just have to take it one match at a time,” he said. “If we wrestle to the top of our abilities, we can all qualify. Realistically, I’d like to take half, but you never know how things will end up.”
Typically, the district tournament serves as the qualifier for state, with the top four going to the final tournament. This year, however, due to COVID-19, the sectional round was added, and only the top three finishers will step foot on a mat on March 11.
“We have put in the time and the practice and are working on the areas we need to punch those tickets,” Fortner said. “Having only the top three finishers going to state is a difference-maker.”
Fortner said looking at the brackets, all will be tough, but the 138- and 145-pound brackets, for Hunter and Anthonsyz, will be especially difficult.
“The 220 and 106 will be tough, too — there really are no easy brackets,” Fortner said. “Pleasant Hope has a very solid team and will be front-runners, and Seneca will follow them.
“We’re working this week on getting better at the areas we are good at and doing the little things right to make the difference in matches.”
Fortner said ultimately, it’s up to his wrestlers to perform.
“We know who we have to beat,” he said. “We just have to go out and do it.”
First-round matches for the Wildcats are:
106: Kurt Deaver, third in district 5, vs. Troy Gustin, of Pleasant Hill, second in district 6
126: Matthew Whittenburg, third in district 5, vs. Nick Ripperger, of Harrisonville, second in district 6
132: Gavin Moore, fourth in district 5, vs. Garrett Lyons, of Pleasant Hill, first in district 6
138: Gabe Hunter, second in district 5, vs. Braeden Elifrits, of Harrisonville, third in division 6
145: Jake Anthonysz, second in district 5, vs. Brayden Tailey, of Harrisonville, third in district 6
220: Zach Coenen, first in district 5, vs. Logan Smith, of Nevada, fourth in district 6