COLUMBIA, Mo. – Wade Stanton put an exclamation point on the second-straight Mid-Buchanan High boys state wrestling team championship.
Just seconds into the second period of his championship match, Stanton put his opponent on his back and ended the match. The Mid-Buchanan junior capped his season and the Dragons’ state tournament with a pin and his second individual state title.
Stanton was the final wrestler for the Dragons, who won back-to-back Class 1 state championships. The second one came Saturday night at Mizzou Arena a year after the tournament was moved to Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, Missouri.
Mid-Buchanan scored 171.5 team points to clinch its second state title in a row. The Dragons beat second-place Centralia by 19.5 points.
“It’s amazing. The boys came through,” Mid-Buchanan coach Daniel Kountz said. “Doing it again was harder this time, obviously do to the pressure and being down here in Columbia rather than Independence last year. It was a bigger setting and everybody was together. It was battling through those expectations and coming in as the favorite. We had a little struggle at times. I’m very proud of the boys for pulling it out, getting it together and finishing strong.
“This is something we enjoy. It’s a tradition. This is how you get a tradition going. That’s the expectation every year, and I guarantee that’s what it will be next is to go get another one.”
Stanton was thrilled to end the team’s season with a victory, especially coming by way of a fall.
“It just shows that all of our hard work actually pays off,” Stanton said. “All of the work we did in the offseason and this season really works. This team has been a family for about three years now, and people keep growing. We are a family and we are all so close.”
Three Dragons reached the championship round of their respective weight classes. Stanton was the final one at 195 pounds. He entered as the defending 182-pound state champion as he squared off with Diamond High’s Landon Clement.
Stanton set the tempo and controlled the match early, scoring a takedown in the first period. Clement chose bottom to start the second period, and Stanton took advantage. He quickly put Clement on his back and pinned him 18 seconds into the period.
“It feels amazing to leave on a really good note,” Stanton said. “I knew that guy is a really smart wrestler so he waits for my moves, so I had to be patient with him. I knew I could beat him on top and bottom, because that’s my strong suit.”
Freshman Spencer Cunningham was the Dragons’ other individual champion. He entered state with a 34-2 before 4-0 at 106 pounds. Cunningham began his tournament with a pin in 56 seconds before winning by a tech fall and an 8-3 decision.
In the finals, Cunningham scored a takedown seven seconds into his match against Knob Knoster sophomore Levi Wilhelm. The match ended shortly after with a Cunningham pin. His first state title match lasted only 50 seconds.
The Dragons’ other finalist was junior Denton Biller. He finished the tournament with a 3-1 record. Biller won by fall twice before a 14-3 major decision victory in the semifinals. Lawson’s Tanner Leonard pinned Biller in the second period of the 182-pound championship match.
Mid-Buchanan’s team score benefitted from five wrestlers battling in the consolation bracket. Dallas Grippando (113) and Seth Cruz (285) each finished third in their weight classes. Meanwhile, Clancey Woodward (126), Colton Kirkham (160) and Zach Kelly (170) placed fifth for the Dragons.
“Just being honest, I don’t know if we wrestled our best at times. Some of our kids didn’t wrestle their best, but all in all, we pulled it together. We took some hard losses. The kids came together and we knew what we were out to do, which was achieve the team championship. They battled for one another, and you could hear them picking each other up. Not our best weekend of wrestling, but it was enough to come together and get it done.”
Pleasant Hill repeats as state champs
For the second-straight year, the Pleasant Hill boys wrestling team brought home the Class 2 state championship. This year’s event was back at Mizzou Arena, but the result was the same for the Roosters.
They scored 178.5 team points, crushing runner-up Helias Catholic by 45.5 points. Last year, the Roosters scored 137 points, but the brackets were smaller.
Pleasant Hill had 10 wrestlers place in the top six, with two reaching the finals. Its lone state champion was Sam Ewing at 132. He defeated Excelsior Springs’ Landen Davis by major decision, 9-1, in the championship match.
Ewing is now a three-time state champion. He won 106 as a freshman and 113 last year. He will be trying to join elite company next year as he goes for a fourth state title.
Zach Redwine also reached the finals of his weight class, but he lost a 1-0 decision to Lafayette’s (St. Joseph) Jay Greiner. Redwine finished second at 160 after three-straight years of placing fifth at 138 and 126.
The Roosters’ other state placers were Dalton Coe (5th, 126), Lane Snyder (5th, 138), Garrett Lyons (3rd, 145), Ryan Volland (4th, 152), Brayden Bush (5th, 170), Jacob Hanes (3rd, 182), Lane Brattin (3rd, 195) and Sam McDowell (4th, 285).
– story by Jimmy Gillispie