Another year, another solid performance from the Whitfield Warriors at the state wrestling tournament.
Whitfield finished a close second as a team in Class 1 at the 86th annual Missouri Wrestling Championship but the Warriors earned three individual state champs.
Whitfield, the reigning state champions entering state, finished with 154.5 points. Seneca took first with 160 points.
“You know, we wrestled pretty well,” Whitfield coach Charlie Sherertz said. “We were just going to have to wrestle extremely well to win it. We held the lead through four sessions of the state tournament. We had a good final round and Seneca had a great final round.
“They were pretty flawless. I refuse to focus on us being short-handed. We had chances to win it. We just weren’t quite there. They had one less medalist than we did but they capitalized a little more in their last few matches. They had significant pins. They have five big pins. Those matches gave them two extra bonus points per pin. We weren’t scoring any bonus points. We stressed the significance on how bonus points can make the difference.”
Whitfield sophomore Mike McAteer won at 113 pounds. It was his second title. Last season, McAteer won at 106 when he went 49-0. He defeated Maplewood’s Ronald Stewart for the second consecutive season to claim the crown.
McAteer won last season’s match by pin. This time, he recorded a 9-4 decision. McAteer finished 44-5.
“Mike did a fine job. The kid he beat in the finals was tough,” Sherertz said. “They wrestled the last time in the state tournament and he’s a seasoned senior and a hungry kid. Mike had to wrestle a good match to win. They went into overtime in the district finals.
“In the state match, a couple of key times it could have gone either way.”
The other two state champions now have bragging rights with their brothers.
Senior Kurtis Hahn won at 160 and he also is a state champion like his older brothers, Will and Rodney. Hahn scored a 10-4 victory against Corbin Menke, of Lawson. It was Menke’s first loss in 53 matches of the season.
Max Darrah won at 220 pounds. His older brother, Sky, won last year as a senior at 152.
Hahn finished 46-4.
“I always looked at it different for Kurtis,” Sherertz said. “I always thought it was a great bonus to have your brothers be such great skilled wrestlers. I think he may have put some weight on himself to win a state. He may have put extra pressure on himself.
“His brothers accomplished so much. Kurtis came into his own this year. To beat that undefeated kid so soundly in the final, I was really proud of him. He had a tough quarterfinal match and he got behind in the semifinals and came back and pinned the kid. But in the finals, he took charge from the get-go. He took command.”
Darrah finished 48-3 after he won a 3-2 decision over Sam Hasekamp, of Centralia.
“He wrestled a real physical kid from Centralia who had a lot of wins,” Scherertz sad. “He had one move that separated them. Max is very talented. He’s a very savvy wrestler. He took advantage of a guy who made a mistake at the at wrong time.”
At 106, Max Roark, of Seneca, won by fall over Whitfield’s Wade Raeman.
“Wade had a great tournament,” Sherertz said. “I looked him as a slight underdog. He was up 4-1 and got out of position and paid for it. Anything can happen in this sport.”
In the 126 fifth-place match, Rian Critten, of Gallatin, won by decision over the Warriors’ Richard Jordan.
“Richard had a very solid weight class that went about 10 kids deep,” Sherertz said. “He had a match where he could have helped us and got beat in overtime. He gave up seven points in the last minute and a half. But all in all, he wrestled a fine tournament. I was proud of his effort.”
At 138 in the third-place match, Kaleb Popplewell, of Maysville, won by decision over Whitfield junior Dylan Shotwell.
“Dylan lost to the same kid twice,” Sherertz said. “He was no slouch. He had some tough matches and some close wins. He did his part. He was in a very solid weight class. He’s got one more try at state.”
In the 170 fifth-place match, Noah Elmore won by fall over Hunter Tessman, of Hallsville. The time was 1:39.
“Noah had a heartbreaker in the semifinals that went down to the last minute of the match,” Sherertz said. “A strategic error on his part put him behind the eight ball. He gave up a takedown at the end.
“He wrestled a good tournament. Last year, he didn’t even get a win. So he had to compete in a tough weight class and he did a fine job.”
The Warriors lose three seniors but only one state qualifier in Hahn.
Sophomore JR Ditter was lost late in the season to injury. He won state as a freshman at 113.
“We’re looking forward to having JR back in our lineup next year,” Ditter said. “I image he’ll be hungry next year.”
As for Sherertz, he said he’s ready to go.
“I was scheming the day after and putting the team together for next year,” Sherertz said. “We’ll be going after another state championship I know that. Second doesn’t set to well with me.”