Mathew Cook

Seckman freshman Mathew Cook is locked up with Fox senior Daniel Bauer, sitting, during a match earlier this season. Cook pinned Bauer in 1:15 of the Class 4 District 1 championship at 113 pounds in Jackson on Saturday.

By the time the 120-pound championship of the Class 4 District 1 wrestling tournament had been decided Saturday, it was clear Seckman was the team to beat.

Jaguar freshman Draegen Orine pinned his opponent in 38 seconds to win the title at 106 pounds and frosh teammate Mathew Cook won by fall in 1:15 in the final at 113. Seckman senior Devin Haag made it three championships in a row by pin when he stuck Northwest sophomore Lucas Ahrens in 3:07 at 120.

The Jaguars rode that early momentum to a first-place score of 190 points, holding off Northwest, which was second with 165.5. Host Jackson placed third with 133 points and Fox finished seventh (and last) with 48 points.

Seckman had six individual champions and will send 10 qualifiers to the Class 4 Sectional 1 meet on Feb. 27 at Northwest. The Lions will feature 12 qualifiers there while Fox will have five.

CBC and Lafayette, fourth and fifth in the state in Class 4 last year, also will be at Sectional 1.

“It’s going to be brutal,” Northwest head coach Ron Wilhelm said. “Plus, you have to take into account that only three wrestlers in each weight class, instead of four (qualify for state).”

Over the last few years, most Jefferson County sports teams haven’t fared too well when they have traveled to southeast Missouri. But the Jaguars and Lions are juggernauts in the St. Louis Suburban Conference’s top Yellow pool and have produced some of the best wrestlers in recent state history, including Kai Orine of Seckman (Draegen’s older brother) and Northwest’s Chase Stegall.

Draegen Orine, Cook, Haag, sophomore John Bamvakais (132), junior Ayden Cook (138) and freshman Jayden Ashlock (170) won district titles for the Jaguars. Freshman Drake Jenkins (second, 126), sophomore Cole Ruble (second, 160), sophomore Michael Stivers (fourth, 182) and junior Dylan Carlton (third, 195) are Seckman’s other sectional qualifiers.

Orine (36-0) spent less than a minute on the mat in his two matches at 106. He pinned Poplar Bluff junior Gatlin Taylor (36-3) in 38 seconds in the final. A potential sectional opponent for Orine is CBC freshman Luke Lilledahl, the District 2 champion at 106 and also undefeated (15-0).

“We’ll have our hands full at sectionals,” Seckman head coach Ryan Moyer said. “We’ve made some adjustments and improvements and he keeps growing as an athlete. It’s nice to have that guy who starts the spark.”

Cook pinned Fox senior Daniel Bauer (31-9) in 1:15 of the 113 final. Bauer had beaten Cook earlier this season in a dual meet.

“Attitude was the difference,” Moyer said about the rematch. “(Cook) came out and was aggressive and believed in himself and that’s all it takes for most of these kids.”

Only three wrestlers were entered at 120 and Haag pinned Northwest sophomore Lucas Ahrens in 3:07 for the title. Haag, who missed part of the season with an injury, led Ahrens 6-4 after the first period before locking him up in a cradle in the second for the win.

“Lucas had the toughest brackets all year and we told him that would help him at districts,” Wilhelm said. “He battled Devin the whole time, but Devin is just a little better right now.”

In another all-county district championship showdown, Bamvakais beat Northwest senior Chris Allen 8-1 at 132 pounds. Bamvakais, who was sixth in the state at 106 last season, has missed time recently because of the coronavirus, but Moyer said he’s getting his technique back.

Cook won the title at 138 when he pinned Oakville senior Julian Davies in 2:23. Northwest junior Landon Rogers pinned Fox junior Sheldon Stranger in 2:18 for third place at 138.

“(Cook) has really put some things together and once he started believing in his ability he’s become a much better wrestler,” Moyer said. “He wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to wrestle this year. He controlled every match this weekend. I believe he’s going to qualify for state this year.”

Ruble, third in the state at 145 last season, ran into undefeated Jackson senior Garner Horman (29-0) in the district final at 160. Horman, third in the state at 152 a year ago, beat Ruble 6-4 earlier in the year and won the district title with a pin at 2:50. Ruble was winning 2-1 at the time of the pin.

“I think Cole is just as good and talented,” Moyer said. “We’ll tweak a couple of things and I think you’ll see a different outcome in two weeks.”

Ashlock met Horman’s younger brother, Griffin, a sophomore, in the final at 170 and eked out a 10-8 decision. Ashlock lost a decision to Griffin earlier this year.

“Sometimes it’s knowing wrestling’s a chess match once in a while,” Moyer said. “He countered Horman’s mistakes. He really focused and didn’t put himself in danger.”

Northwest is sending qualifiers in every weight class but the two at the low end, 106 and 113. Allen, Ahrens and Rogers will be joined at sectionals by teammates sophomore Sebashton McCarter (fourth, 126), junior Shawn Jackson (fourth, 145), senior Cannon Newhouse (first, 152), junior Hunter Melber (third, 160), sophomore Tristan Staat (fourth, 170), junior Alex Calvert (third, 182), senior Johnny Daffron (first, 195), sophomore Chase Viehland (second, 220) and junior Andrew Hinchey (second, 285).

Newhouse (34-3) and Daffron (30-5) both finished sixth in the state last year. Newhouse won all three district matches by fall and pinned Jackson junior Flint Guilliams in 2:55 for the title. Daffron’s toughest match was in the first round, a 10-2 major decision, before he made short work of his next two opponents and pinned Lindbergh sophomore Drew Rogers in 17 seconds in the final.

“We felt like Johnny got slighted at the seeding meeting,” Wilhelm said. “That happens sometimes. He pinned his way through the tournament, as did Cannon. Both seniors showed our younger guys this is what you do. I can’t brag enough about their senior leadership. Scoring all of those bonus points helped, too. Seckman had too many horses at the end and we made a run at them until the final round.”

Hinchey was pinned by Jackson junior Liam Bryant earlier in the year, but this time Hinchey battled Bryant in the heavyweight title match for the full six minutes before losing 4-3. Hinchey is wrestling at 285 so Viehland can stay at 220, even though Hinchey weighs closer to 200 pounds.

“We asked Andrew to go up to 285 and he darn near pulls of the upset against the No. 1 seed,” Wilhelm said. “We’ve closed that gap to one point. Andrew is faster than most heavyweights because he’s lighter. He’s had an amazing season.”

Joining Bauer and Stranger at sectionals for Fox will be juniors Jacob McCormick (third, 120) and Parker Fleshman (fourth, 132) and senior Mason Petty (third, 285).

The Class 4 state tournament will be a one-day event, slated for March 13 at the Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.

The Windsor boys wrestling team finished third with 105 points at the Class 3 District 2 tournament in Union on Saturday. Rockwood Summit won the championship with 212 points.

Senior Luke Longtin, a state qualifier for the Owls at 152 pounds last season, won the District 2 title at 160 with a 3-1 sudden victory over Summit senior Ty Brunk. Windsor junior Joe Hirst also won a district championship, pinning Union freshman Braden Pracht in the 120-pound final in 3:34. Hirst won all three of his district matches by fall.

Windsor’s other sectional qualifiers are freshman Brayden Belding (second, 106), freshman Nicholas Baer (third, 126), senior Dominic Pona (third, 170) and sophomore Clay Scott (second, 285). Pona was a state qualifier at 160 last season. In the 285 final, Scott was pinned by Summit senior Michael Fanz (31-1), a state qualifier at the same weight in 2020.

The Class 3 Sectional 1 tournament is set for Feb. 27 at Hillsboro and the Class 3 state tournament is scheduled for March 12 in Independence.

Hillsboro wins first district wrestling title

Saturday was a day of firsts for the Hillsboro boys wrestling team.

With a lineup featuring nine underclassmen, the Hawks were the kings of Class 3 District 1 at Farmington, winning their first district championship in team history with a dominating 240.5 points. The host Knights were a distant second with 162.5. Out of 14 weight classes, Hillsboro sent 12 wrestlers to the district finals, and seven won titles.

Junior Dalton Litzsinger became the first Hawk ever to win three district crowns when he hung a 10-0 major decision on Farmington junior Drew Felker at 138 pounds. A two-time state qualifier, Litzsinger finished third in the state at 132 a year ago, beating Farmington’s Blake Cook in a 12-0 major decision. Cook stayed at 132 this year and won the district title Saturday, pinning Hillsboro sophomore Evan Morris in 5:11.

“That was his motivation today,” Hillsboro head coach Matt Mitchell said of Litzsinger’s team record. “He took care of business and I don’t expect anything different at sectionals.”

Hillsboro hosts Sectional 1 on Feb. 27. The Hawks were 10th in the state last year after qualifying seven wrestlers and coming home with three medalists, including state champion Gavin Alexander at 106 pounds. A sectional performance similar to districts would make Hillsboro a favorite to finish among the top four teams in the state, which would produce another first for the program: a state team trophy.

Senior Aidan Haggard (120), freshman Sam Richardson (126), sophomore Raymund Barnett (145), sophomore Griffin Ray (152), senior Zach McNees (195) and freshman Hunter Rhodes (220) joined Litzsinger as Hillsboro district champions.

Freshman Aidan Black (second, 106), Alexander (second, 113), sophomore Evan Morris (second, 132), sophomore Eddie Hines (second, 160), sophomore Nicholas Green (third, 182) and junior Jordan Jarvis (second, 285) also will wrestle at sectionals for the Hawks, who will compete in every weight class but 170.

De Soto (fifth, 72 points) and Festus (sixth, 65.5) were the other Jefferson County Activities Association schools in District 1. The Dragons have five sectional qualifiers, and the Tigers have four. Sophomore Asa Foeller (160) and senior Luke Bradley (170) won district titles for De Soto while junior Austin Neff (106) and undefeated senior Luke Shaver (39-0, 182) turned the trick for Festus.

There were only three entries at 106 pounds at Farmington. Neff pinned Sikeston sophomore Connor Lawrence in the first period in the only semifinal and then won by fall over Black in 3:44 for the title. Black had been quarantined for the two weeks prior to districts because of COVID-19 concerns; the match against Neff was his first since January.

Farmington junior Dayton Boyd (27-3), a state qualifier at 113 last year, beat Alexander (42-3) Saturday in a 4-2 sudden victory for the 113 championship. Alexander had beaten Boyd earlier in the year by a point. Boyd scored a double-leg takedown to win this time.

“This is good motivation for Gavin. I’m OK with it,” Mitchell said.

Haggard, a two-time state qualifier, met North County senior Jonathon Coroama, a state medalist last year, in the final at 120. Coroama had taken Haggard in a 13-0 major decision recently, but this time Haggard won the title with a 5-2 decision. The bout was scoreless through the first period.

“We’ve worked on some things and turned it around,” Mitchell said. “We got out of the first period without letting that kid score. I’m excited for Aidan and Zach (McNees) because they’re our two seniors and this is their first district titles; (they) were freshmen my first year as head coach.”

Richardson won all three of his district matches by fall in the first period. In the final, he pinned North County senior Amos Littrell at 1:40.

“I said at the beginning of the year you might want to keep your eye on him,” Mitchell said. “There’s no one out there he doesn’t think he can beat.”

After winning by fall and major decision in the first two rounds, Burnett won a 3-2 decision for the 145 title against Sikeston senior Cannon Gaddis. Burnett won matches at districts against opponents who had beaten him this season.

“He catches kids off-guard (by) being unconventional,” Mitchell said.

Ray, fifth in the state at 138 last year, has moved up to 152 and won all three of his district matches by fall to improve to 42-3. He pinned North County senior Jordan Borseth at 4:25.

A pair of sophomores from the county met for the championship at 160. In their earlier match this year, Hines (24-13) beat Foeller 14-10, but Foeller (20-8) emerged the district winner after posting a 12-11 decision in the rematch.

Bradley (26-6) won by fall in the semifinals and then captured the 170 title with a 4-3 decision Farmington senior Kael Krause, a state qualifier at 170 last year.

McNees (34-5) is one step away from his third trip to state after he pinned Sikeston senior Nolan Self at 4:53 in the 195-pound final.

“I’m so happy he got it. He’s focused on being sectional champ,” Mitchell said. “He’s evolved so much since his freshman year, when he wrestled just a few varsity matches. He wasn’t a varsity wrestler until the end of that year.”

Rhodes (31-3) had an easy first two rounds, but not so in the final against Asa Foeller’s twin brother, Isaac, of De Soto. He pushed the match past overtime before Rhodes, who also recently returned from quarantine, claimed a 2-1 ultimate tiebreaker victory. 

“(Isaac Foeller) is a tough kid. I know we’ll see him again,” Mitchell said.

A pair of returning state medalists squared off for the title at 182 when Shaver put his perfect record on the line against Farmington senior Judd Cunningham (26-5). Shaver won a 11-3 major decision. He placed third in the state at 170 last season and has a record of 90-2 in the last two years.