Both Brookfield's and Marceline's wrestling programs will have some new regalia to dangle from the rafters after last weekend's Class 1 state tournament.
Brookfield heavyweight Brooks Baker and Marceline 138-pounder Clayton Stallo both stood atop the highest pillar of their respective podiums on Saturday evening. Both 11th graders, they will have an opportunity to defend their crowns next season.
As for team results, Marceline finished third with 105 points and Brookfield finished eighth with 62 points. Whitfield ran away with the tournament, posting a mind-boggling 240 team points, and Seneca was second, 19 points ahead of Marceline.
"Those three days are great for us, the whole tournament went great for us," Marceline coach Lee Bradley said.
Brookfield had a pair of medalists aside from Baker over the weekend. Donavan Parn and Khalil Walker both finished fourth. Parn, a freshman wrestling at 120, won his opening match by first-round fall and his quarterfinal match by 3-0 decision against a highly-touted Lathrop competitor. He lost his semifinal match by 8-6 decision, and wrestled his way back before being defeated by a Maysville competitor 8-4 in the consolation championship.
Walker fell victim to the eventual champion, Father Tolton's undefeated Brock Mauller, in the semifinal round. He battled his way to the consolation championship and fell to a Blair Oaks foe in the final match of his career.
"It started with Parn, he grew a lot as a wrestler throughout the year and wrestled really tough the whole tournament," Brookfield coach Drew Passley said. "There was never an easy match, and he handled the big stage really well. He felt comfortable. Walker has come a long way since he was a freshman, he's improved so much, and he wrestled very tough like he always does. We'll miss him next year."
Carson Wilkerson at 182 and Brent Downey at 170 were both unable to place. Downey was defeated by Marceline's Hunter Teeter in the bubble match after losing his quarterfinal match.
As for Baker, the 285-pounder was able to wash a sour taste out of his mouth that had been lingering for right around a year now. Baker avenged last year's heavyweight championship loss against Whitfield's Max Darrah, who also entered the championship with just a single defeat on the season.
"We wrestled the same kid in finals last year, and corrected some things that maybe got us beat the year before," Passley said. "(Baker) worked on his top position and bottom position, and he was very motivated. He wrestled a smart finals match. It came down to a 30-second period, and he was very focused. Both wrestlers got their escape, and last year, he didn't get away and lost 1-0.
"It almost played out like the year before, but he got just a little bit better. He had a lot of teammates pushing him at practice to improve at what he needed to win that specific match."
The Tigers managed to put five wrestlers atop the podium. Aside from Stallo finishing the tournament with the most glorious night of his wrestling career, four Marceline competitors made it to the third-place match, and a pair of them finished the tournament with a victory.
At 106, Cooper Fisher was dumped in the semifinals by first-round fall, won the consolation semis against a Gallatin foe by 16-1 tech fall, and claimed the bronze with a 6-3 decision over a Knob Noster foe. At the 160-pound class, Rylan Chrisman lost to Father Tolton four-time state champion Jarrett Jacques in the quarterfinals before winning his next three matches. Chrisman beat Whitfield's Ethan Hovis by 4-1 decision in the third-place match.
Seth Cupp and Hunter Teeter, wrestling at 182 and 170 respectively, finished their final matches of the season with a loss, but still earned fourth-place hardware. Cupp fell in the semifinal match to a Lawson foe who went on to stand on the podium one rung behind him. He defeated a Versailles opponent in a classic in the consolation semis, winning by 8-7 decision, before falling 7-4 to a Lexington kid in the third-place match.
Teeter brawled it out all weekend. He lost his opening-round match by second-round fall, won the first-round consolation match by disqualification, and gutted out a triumvirate of victories. He defeated a Lawson opponent 3-2 in regulation, topped Downey 4-2 in sudden victory in the bubble match, then bested a Lexington competitor 4-2 in another sudden victory match to earn a consolation championship berth. He fell to Buffalo's Floyd Miller in the third-place bout.
Colton Fisher, Colton Nelson, and Cullen Bruner did not place, but that does not mean that they failed to contribute to their team's third-place finish.
"Every participant contributed to the points, I'm not sure our third-place plaque could have been accomplished without every single point going into day three," Bradley said. "We were only up two, and we needed some things to go our way. We sealed our own fate with the way we wrestled Saturday morning. Fisher gets a tech fall, Chrisman gets a decision, Cupp gets a decision. A couple of those were over wrestlers who had already beat us this year, and that speaks to our mental toughness over the weekend. Fisher's goal was to be a state champ, but he showed his resolve.
"It would have been really, really easy for some of our guys just to quit."
Stallo defeated Palmyra's Ross Arch in the 138-pound championship match. Arch came into the bout with just two losses on the season. Stallo had five in 10 fewer matches.
Bradley said that Stallo's second-round pin was a magical moment for both of them, and that the team's fate as far as podium standing was concerned depended on his prevailing.
During the match, Bradley held up his index finger toward Stallo. The coach later said that the gesture symbolized that if the junior wants to achieve his loftiest wrestling goal of becoming Marceline's first ever two-time state champion, he has to win the match at hand first.
"That was an incredible win for him," Bradley said. "I didn't tell him this going into the match, but I knew if Clayton won his match, that sealed third place for us and we could not be caught. He could handle it, but he didn't need added pressure. I could count the number of times I've had to get onto him this year, and he came in with the attitude that he was ready to turn it on.
"We knew what we had to do on bottom to prevent him from getting (Arch) into his offense on top. We were a little nervous, but at the same time, we knew where we needed to go. We created a scramble position, and that's where (Stallo) wants to be. He's one of the smartest wrestlers I've seen."