Northwest girls wrestling

The Northwest girls wrestling team members hold their second straight district trophy aloft after winning District 1 in Cedar Hill on Saturday.

That’s what the Northwest girls wrestling team did at the District 1 tournament in Cedar Hill on Friday and Saturday.

In fourth place after Friday night’s action ended, the Lions moved up to second but still trailed North County by two points going into the third-place and championship matches Saturday afternoon.

Northwest didn’t have any wrestlers in the final round at 102 pounds and North County freshman Belle White was pinned by Lindbergh freshman Audrey Scherer in the championship.

At 107, senior Madison Bellinger gave the Lions their first lead of the meet when she won her weight class, pinning Raider freshman Heavan Webb in 3:23. Northwest won four of its other six matches in the final round to score 119 points for its second straight district crown. North County was second with 101 points. The other Jefferson County girls wrestling teams – De Soto, Festus, Fox, Herculaneum, Hillsboro, Seckman and Windsor – also competed in District 1, one of eight districts around the state. The top four wrestlers from each weight class advance to the sectional round on Feb. 20.

“This feels really special. It was harder to come by this year because we were down going into the last round,” Northwest co-head coach Ron Wilhelm said. “We had a dream round in the finals. We wrestled our tails off to win this thing.

“That (Bellinger match) is the tournament, because if they beat us that’s a 12-point swing. Maddy’s a senior, a captain and she did what she needed to do.”

This is Bellinger’s second year wrestling and her first district title. A year ago, she lost in the “bubble match,” the one in which the winner earns the last qualifying spot for the state tournament. Not only did she attend a wrestling camp last summer, she put in extra time after practice there. The result is a trip to the sectional meet in St. Clair. Against Webb, Bellinger (25-3) scored near-fall points and led 8-0 after the first period.

“I waited for her to take a shot and when she did, I put her in a cow-catcher and pinned her,” Bellinger said. “It took a while, but I got it.”

Sophomore Lee Ann Dobbs was one of four Festus wrestlers to qualify for sectionals. Dobbs (21-7) lost an 11-8 decision to Bellinger in the semifinals and finished third at 107 after securing a 10-6 decision over Seckman sophomore Shelby Lundstrom (15-10).

Junior Kirsten Klein became the first-ever district champion for Festus after she won a 5-2 decision over North County freshman Kaylee Kluge at 112. Klein (23-3) led Kluge 5-0 after two periods and scored a reversal with five seconds left in the match. Klein pinned Northwest junior Lauren McMiller in the semifinals. McMiller finished third with an 8-6 decision over Poplar Bluff junior Breann Thresher.

Klein also has competed for the Tiger cross country and track and field teams, although she had to sit out cross country last fall after being quarantined for

COVID-19. She’s unbeaten at 112 this season and also has wrestled at 117 and 122.

“I noticed (the reversal) was there,” Klein said. “I knew I was winning, but I didn’t want to end the match on bottom. That was probably my hardest match all year at 112.”

Seckman sophomore Emily Palos only had three days to prepare for districts after being out of the lineup because of the coronavirus. Despite the down time, the second-year wrestler reached the championship at 117 before dropping a 7-4 decision to Lindbergh’s Julia Datus. The Flyer junior scored a takedown with six seconds left in the second period to take a 4-2 lead.

“I was out with COVID and just got back this week, so I was tired,” Palos said. “I’ve got two weeks to get ready for sectionals and I’m going to bring it.”

After winning by fall in 47 seconds in the quarterfinals, Palos beat De Soto senior Isabella Hartwell in a 9-3 decision in the semifinals. Hartwell squeezed out a 6-4 decision over Jackson sophomore Gracie Metzger in the bubble match before Ste. Genevieve senior Autumn Basler pinned Hartwell in the third-place match.

Festus sophomore Lauren Mills is 27-6 going into sectionals at 122. Mills lost 10-5 in the semifinals to Webster Groves sophomore Talia Lee before rebounding to pin Jackson sophomore Mallorie Metzger at 4:41 for third place.

“I’m actually pretty proud of myself, but part of me wanted to finish second or first,” Mills said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason and I’ll be prepared for sectionals. (This has) made me more determined to do better.”

Mills said she was a little mentally out of sorts in the semifinals, but was nevertheless ready to claim third.

“I got really aggressive and in the third I just wanted to get the pin,” she said. “I got my anger built up and went for it.”

With 10 open spots in the 127-pound weight class, Herculaneum freshman Eddyson Reeves took advantage to earn a trip to sectionals after finishing fourth. Three of the four wrestlers Reeves faced at the district meet were juniors. She pinned Northwest sophomore Cailey Mowery in 3:00 in the consolation final to punch her ticket for the sectionals. Poplar Bluff junior Alexis Rowland had Reeves on her back in the waning seconds of the second period in their third-place match, but couldn’t finish her, eventually winning a hard-fought 10-6 decision.

Reeves was pinned by Ste. Genevieve junior Isabel Basler in the semifinals. It was the first time this season Reeves lost by fall.

“It was tough competition. I did better against a girl I lost to earlier in the year. Improvement’s always good,” she said.

Herky assistant coach Chris Bahr said Reeves, the only female Blackcat wrestler, has a ton of potential and just needs more experience on the mat.

“She’s a great kid. We have high expectations for her,” Bahr said. “She’s one of the hardest-working freshmen I’ve seen, girl or boy. I can’t wait to see what she does year after year.

“She’s not afraid to find what her weakness is and work on it. She wants to get better at the things she’s not good at and I think that will set her apart from the other girls.”

Two-time state qualifier Madison Conrad, a junior at Seckman, won the district championship at 132 and improved to 19-1 this season. Conrad pinned all three district opponents in the first period, including Sikeston junior Kate Grubbs in 1:42 in the final.

“(Grubbs) was very aggressive in the beginning and she’s super strong,” Conrad said. “She took a shot on me and I sprawled and knocked her over. I put her in a barb wire and pinned her.”

Conrad said when she first started wrestling three years ago, she concentrated on softball in the fall and felt like that limited her progress on the mat.

“I figured out there was a lot more to wrestling and I had to work harder at it,” she said. “I practiced with the boys and they helped me a lot.”

Northwest junior Hallie Becker finished third at 132 after pinning Cape Girardeau Notre Dame freshman Lily Ahlvin in 1:35.

De Soto junior Riley Coleman is the county’s sectional representative at 137 after she finished fourth. Coleman pinned Hillsboro freshman Katie Hendrix in the bubble match before dropping a 9-0 major decision in the third-place bout to Sikeston junior Lila Eckert.

Seckman junior Hannah Tackett lost a 3-1 decision to Dexter junior Julianna Rivera in the 143-pound semifinals. Rivera went on to win the district title by fall while Tackett finished third, beating Poplar Bluff junior Mckayla Brown 4-1.

Another all-Jefferson County match came in the semifinals at 151 when

De Soto freshman Ella Bradley faced off against Northwest junior Taylor Accardi. Bradley won by fall with four seconds left in the match.

“She caught me in a screwdriver and I couldn’t roll out of it,” Accardi said.

Bradley ran into undefeated Hannah Jansen (20-0), a senior from Webster Groves, in the 151 final and got pinned in 28 seconds. Jansen, the defending state champion at 152, and De Soto senior Jaycee Foeller, another defending state champ, were the only two undefeated wrestlers at the district tournament.

After pinning Seckman freshman Emily Mitchell in the consolation finals, Accardi went to her own toolbelt and finished third, winning by fall in 1:59 against Farmington senior Macy Carlyon.

“I went for a screwdriver or a half (nelson),” Accardi said. “She tried to roll through, so I had to hold on in my half. She was pretty strong but I had my coaches to get me through it.”

Northwest junior Anna Haas and Windsor sophomore Madison Patrick met twice at 159 pounds and both are sectional bound. Haas beat Patrick 7-4 in the quarterfinals, then pinned her in 3:53 in the third-place match.

“She wrestled (Haas) twice today and came out swinging both times, but fell off toward the end,” Windsor head coach Ryan Bollinger said. “Down the line she’ll get her.”

Patrick was a basketball player and wrestling team manager a year ago.

“She’s very inexperienced,” Bollinger said. “To see where she’s come from, she’s made vast improvements. If she keeps it up, she’ll be a terror on the mat.”

Foeller improved to 33-0 this season and 115-0 for her career with her third district title, this one at 174. Foeller pinned two freshmen in less than two minutes to capture the title. Northwest freshman Abigail Chandler was 24-1 going into the final against Foeller.

“You learn and try to figure out little mistakes. Jaycee’s just so good at all three positions,” Wilhelm said. “She’s the stud of the state for a reason. We’re 24-1 and we’re not bad, but she makes you look bad.”

Foeller admitted it’s been awhile since she was taxed in competition. She hadn’t been on the mat before districts in three weeks. While many wrestlers stress about gaining a state berth, Foeller’s only goal is a third straight state crown.

“I feel like today was probably the worst I’ve wrestled,” she said. “I was chasing everybody. I wasn’t wrestling my match. I was relying on them to be in it and they weren’t.”

The county took three of four sectional spots at 174 when Hillsboro freshman Alleigh Culley finished third after pinning Jackson freshman Maggie Gibbs in 1:44. Culley popped Seckman freshman Jenna Brown’s bubble the round before with a first-period pin. Culley said she had wrestled at 195 for most of the season.

“I feel amazing. I’m really proud of what I accomplished,” she said. “I shoot in real well and once I get them across the mat, I take them to their back. I’m going to train harder than I have before and push myself to the best of my ability.”

“I took (Gibbs) down in a double-leg and she was on top of me,” Culley said. “But I rolled her off and got her on her back. I swung her onto her shoulders.”

 De Soto junior Hannah Eberhardt reached sectionals after placing fourth at 195. Eberhardt faced Park Hills Central junior Karli McFarland twice in the tournament. In the quarterfinals, Eberhardt won by fall at 5:03, but McFarland returned the favor in the third-place match with a pin in 4:20.

Northwest senior Emily Bausworth, Hillsboro senior Marissa Hudman and Fox sophomore Faith Spicer advanced to sectionals at 235. Bausworth beat Spicer 5-0 in the semifinals before getting pinned by Rebel sophomore Alayna Ray for the championship. Hudman pinned Spicer in 4:53 for third place.

“It’s special to do this at home,” Wilhelm said. “This girls group has rejuvenated our school and our coaching staff. We’ve never lost a dual meet. We’ve won three conference titles and two district titles. The accolades keep building up for the girls. The pressure was on us.”

“I was out with COVID and just got back this week, so I was tired,” Palos said. “I’ve got two weeks to get ready for sectionals and I’m going to bring it.”

After winning by fall in 47 seconds in the quarterfinals, Palos beat De Soto senior Isabella Hartwell in a 9-3 decision in the semifinals. Hartwell squeezed out a 6-4 decision over Jackson sophomore Gracie Metzger in the bubble match before Ste. Genevieve senior Autumn Basler pinned Hartwell in the third-place match.

Festus sophomore Lauren Mills is 27-6 going into sectionals at 122. Mills lost 10-5 in the semifinals to Webster Groves sophomore Talia Lee before rebounding to pin Jackson sophomore Mallorie Metzger at 4:41 for third place.

“I’m actually pretty proud of myself, but part of me wanted to finish second or first,” Mills said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason and I’ll be prepared for sectionals. (This has) made me more determined to do better.”

Mills said she was a little mentally out of sorts in the semifinals, but was nevertheless ready to claim third.

“I got really aggressive and in the third I just wanted to get the pin,” she said. “I got my anger built up and went for it.”

With 10 open spots in the 127-pound weight class, Herculaneum freshman Eddyson Reeves took advantage to earn a trip to sectionals after finishing fourth. Three of the four wrestlers Reeves faced at the district meet were juniors. She pinned Northwest sophomore Cailey Mowery in 3:00 in the consolation final to punch her ticket for the sectionals. Poplar Bluff junior Alexis Rowland had Reeves on her back in the waning seconds of the second period in their third-place match, but couldn’t finish her, eventually winning a hard-fought 10-6 decision.

Reeves was pinned by Ste. Genevieve junior Isabel Basler in the semifinals. It was the first time this season Reeves lost by fall.

“It was tough competition. I did better against a girl I lost to earlier in the year. Improvement’s always good,” she said.

Herky assistant coach Chris Bahr said Reeves, the only female Blackcat wrestler, has a ton of potential and just needs more experience on the mat.

“She’s a great kid. We have high expectations for her,” Bahr said. “She’s one of the hardest-working freshmen I’ve seen, girl or boy. I can’t wait to see what she does year after year.

“She’s not afraid to find what her weakness is and work on it. She wants to get better at the things she’s not good at and I think that will set her apart from the other girls.”

Two-time state qualifier Madison Conrad, a junior at Seckman, won the district championship at 132 and improved to 19-1 this season. Conrad pinned all three district opponents in the first period, including Sikeston junior Kate Grubbs in 1:42 in the final.

“(Grubbs) was very aggressive in the beginning and she’s super strong,” Conrad said. “She took a shot on me and I sprawled and knocked her over. I put her in a barb wire and pinned her.”

Conrad said when she first started wrestling three years ago, she concentrated on softball in the fall and felt like that limited her progress on the mat.

“I figured out there was a lot more to wrestling and I had to work harder at it,” she said. “I practiced with the boys and they helped me a lot.”

Northwest junior Hallie Becker finished third at 132 after pinning Cape Girardeau Notre Dame freshman Lily Ahlvin in 1:35.

De Soto junior Riley Coleman is the county’s sectional representative at 137 after she finished fourth. Coleman pinned Hillsboro freshman Katie Hendrix in the bubble match before dropping a 9-0 major decision in the third-place bout to Sikeston junior Lila Eckert.

Seckman junior Hannah Tackett lost a 3-1 decision to Dexter junior Julianna Rivera in the 143-pound semifinals. Rivera went on to win the district title by fall while Tackett finished third, beating Poplar Bluff junior Mckayla Brown 4-1.

Another all-Jefferson County match came in the semifinals at 151 when De Soto freshman Ella Bradley faced off against Northwest junior Taylor Accardi. Bradley won by fall with four seconds left in the match.

“She caught me in a screwdriver and I couldn’t roll out of it,” Accardi said.

Bradley ran into undefeated Hannah Jansen (20-0), a senior from Webster Groves, in the 151 final and got pinned in 28 seconds. Jansen, the defending state champion at 152, and De Soto senior Jaycee Foeller, another defending state champ, were the only two undefeated wrestlers at the district tournament.

After pinning Seckman freshman Emily Mitchell in the consolation finals, Accardi went to her own toolbelt and finished third, winning by fall in 1:59 against Farmington senior Macy Carlyon.

“I went for a screwdriver or a half (nelson),” Accardi said. “She tried to roll through, so I had to hold on in my half. She was pretty strong but I had my coaches to get me through it.”

Northwest junior Anna Haas and Windsor sophomore Madison Patrick met twice at 159 pounds and both are sectional bound. Haas beat Patrick 7-4 in the quarterfinals, then pinned her in 3:53 in the third-place match.

“She wrestled (Haas) twice today and came out swinging both times, but fell off toward the end,” Windsor head coach Ryan Bollinger said. “Down the line she’ll get her.”

Patrick was a basketball player and wrestling team manager a year ago.

“She’s very inexperienced,” Bollinger said. “To see where she’s come from, she’s made vast improvements. If she keeps it up, she’ll be a terror on the mat.”

Foeller improved to 33-0 this season and 115-0 for her career with her third district title, this one at 174. Foeller pinned two freshmen in less than two minutes to capture the title. Northwest freshman Abigail Chandler was 24-1 going into the final against Foeller.

“You learn and try to figure out little mistakes. Jaycee’s just so good at all three positions,” Wilhelm said. “She’s the stud of the state for a reason. We’re 24-1 and we’re not bad, but she makes you look bad.”

Foeller admitted it’s been awhile since she was taxed in competition. She hadn’t been on the mat before districts in three weeks. While many wrestlers stress about gaining a state berth, Foeller’s only goal is a third straight state crown.

“I feel like today was probably the worst I’ve wrestled,” she said. “I was chasing everybody. I wasn’t wrestling my match. I was relying on them to be in it and they weren’t.”

The county took three of four sectional spots at 174 when Hillsboro freshman Alleigh Culley finished third after pinning Jackson freshman Maggie Gibbs in 1:44. Culley popped Seckman freshman Jenna Brown’s bubble the round before with a first-period pin. Culley said she had wrestled at 195 for most of the season.

“I feel amazing. I’m really proud of what I accomplished,” she said. “I shoot in real well and once I get them across the mat, I take them to their back. I’m going to train harder than I have before and push myself to the best of my ability.”

“I took (Gibbs) down in a double-leg and she was on top of me,” Culley said. “But I rolled her off and got her on her back. I swung her onto her shoulders.”

De Soto junior Hannah Eberhardt reached sectionals after placing fourth at 195. Eberhardt faced Park Hills Central junior Karli McFarland twice in the tournament. In the quarterfinals, Eberhardt won by fall at 5:03, but McFarland returned the favor in the third-place match with a pin in 4:20.

Northwest senior Emily Bausworth, Hillsboro senior Marissa Hudman and Fox sophomore Faith Spicer advanced to sectionals at 235. Bausworth beat Spicer 5-0 in the semifinals before getting pinned by Rebel sophomore Alayna Ray for the championship. Hudman pinned Spicer in 4:53 for third place.

“It’s special to do this at home,” Wilhelm said. “This girls group has rejuvenated our school and our coaching staff. We’ve never lost a dual meet. We’ve won three conference titles and two district titles. The accolades keep building up for the girls. The pressure was on us.”

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