The Whitfield wrestling program does not rebuild. It just reloads and goes about its business of winning state championships.
But this season would be a test. The Warriors had six freshman and two sophomores in the lineup due to heavy gradation losses. Only one of the two sophomores had tasted state competition.
So what happened?
Well, another state championship happened for Whitfield and veteran coach Charlie Sherertz.
Whitfield finished first with 192 points to claim the Missouri Class 1 wrestling crown at Mizzou Arena. Seneca was a distant second at 126.5.
The score of 192 points was Whitfield’s second best total at state. The 2018 team recorded 240 points to earn its crown.
The win make it three consecutive Class 1 team championships. It also was the eighth overall under Sherertz. The eight titles have come since 2008. This was the first time the Warriors have won three titles in a row.
Sherertz was happy to see his program earn another championship.
“It was important for a lot of reasons to me,” Sherertz said. “I mean half of the team was new. It means a lot to me because we know are the program at Whitfield that was won the most state titles. Soccer has seven. Selfishly, eight is the same number of state titles my father had won in Missouri.”
His father, Charlie Sherertz Sr., coached at McCluer North and at Northwest high schools. Before coming to Missouri, he coached squads to four team titles in Nebraska.
Did this group of Warriors exceed Sherertz’s expectations?
“Well, not entirely. We had some upper class disappointments,” Sherertz said. “Some younger guys really stepped up for us. I knew we had tge potentional with the younger guys. Our tournament showing would be dependend on their rising to their potential at state.”
His young matmen made big strides since practice began back in October.
“They grew a lot. Our two young guys (Evan) Binder and (Jason) Shaw might be wrestling off for a spot. Logan Ferrero made the move up to 120. It was a really selfless move to make on his part to make room for Shaw at 113, which made room for Binder at 106. It almost was a clean sweep. We were a second away from having all three be state champs.”
Before state began, Sherertz noted he really didn’t know how his newcomers would react to the pressure of wrestling at state and in the Mizzou Arena.
“The young kids were a tough read,” Sherertz said. “The older kids were in good shape. I’ll say the younger kids were cool customers. Our fab freshmen four of Binder, Shaw, (Chase) Brock and (Keith) Miley were all cool. They wrestled great.”
The Warriors, who sent 12 grapplers to state, scored two individual championship. Five others finished second in their weight classes. Two others came in third.
“We had nine kids finish in the top three,” Sherertz said. “You can’t really argue with that. We might have won on a perfect day five state championships. You know, we could also have lost all 7, too. One we won in overtime and one was one-point match. At that level, the margin for error is so small. We had some woulda’s, coulda’s and shoulda’s.
“A guy who really rose was Matt Schueddig from not earning a medal to earning second at state,” Sherertz said. “Nobody would have guessed him to be in the finals. I’m proud of all the guys. This really was a team effort. These guys just came together.”
Freshman Binder won at 106 pounds. He beat Levi Connelly, of Seneca, 2-0. Binder finished with a 38-7 record.
“That was the same kid Logan beat by a point last year in the finals,” Sherertz said. “He had a forfeit in the first round. Binder had a crazy quarterfinal match (a 5-4 win in tiebreaker over Fatima’s Jason Strope). It was a wild one that he won in overtime.
“In the finals, he was cool, calm and collected. It was the kids’ (ConnellY) third time in the finals. I’m super proud of how he wrestled. Evan did a great job. He certainly has a bright upside. I expect him to be a contender again.”
At 120 pounds, sophomore Logan Ferrero won his second state title. He won state as a freshman at 106 last season and jumped to 120.
“That;s tough to do, going up two classes, and winning it,” Sherertz said. “It shows you how good he really is.”
Ferrero scored a 3-2 decision over Lucas Laux, of Fatima.
“He got a takedown in the first period,” Sherertz said. “He just wrestled a very smart match aginst a very skilled kid.”
Logan ended his season at 38-6.
“It’s not going ot get any easier for him going up in the weights,” Sherertz said. “He’ll have to bring his ‘A’ game against next year.”
Whitfield had three runner-up finishes from its other freshmen: Shaw at 113), Brock at 160) and Miley at 220.
Cooper Fisher, of Marceline, scored a 3-2 decision over Shaw. Tyler Ross, of Lawson, pinned Brock in 1 minute, 21 seconds. Grayden Rains, of Gallatin, defeated Miley 5-2.
“Shaw was just a hairline call away from being a state champ,” Sherertz said. “The call went against him. He almost pulled it out at the end. He really had a good tourament, too. One tiny mistake in the championship match cost him. He wrestled a kid who was a senior. That’s hard to do. I’m super proud of him. He really grew in 113. He had been 106 until after Christmas. He commited to going up to 113 and that in itself is hard to do. He’s a good one and he’s going to be a great one.
“Brock and Miley saw seniors all year. They took some beatings and continued to evolve and grow and learn. By the time they got to the state meet, they were ready to go. They both won tough semifinal matches. Brock won in OT (a 3-2 tiebreaker over Blair Oaks’ Ben Thomas) against a senior. Miley shut out a senior (Wyatt Becker, of Lawson) 4-0 in his semifinal.”
Senior Wade Raeman was a runner-up at 138. He finished his career as a four-time medalist. Raeman lost 4-2 to Andrew Huddleston, of Hallsville.
“Wade had wrestled a great tournament,” Sherertz said. “He gave up a takedown with short time left in the first period and that was the difference in the match. He probalby wins if he doesn’t give up that takedown. It’s disappointing when a kid is second three times. He’s had a great career. I feel really good about him overall.”
Schueddig, a junior, was second at 152. Warsaw’s Koly Estes earned an 8-3 decision over Schueddig.
“Schueddig is a testment to to what can be done with hard work,” Sherertz said. “He doesn’t have a ton of experience. He started wrestling at Whitfield and he just grinds away. He had a rocky first round match and he just got better and better throghout the tournament. He wrested one of the best kids in our class in the final.”
Seniors Zac Russell at 170 and Ethan Hovis at 182 both finished third.
“They faced the guy they were going to have beat to be state champs in the semifinals,” Sherertz said. “It was very tough for those guys. Zac was a returning state champ and Hovis at his best could win a state tournament. They sealed the team victory for us by coming through wrestlebacks.”
His team was proud to win state, Sherertz said, and keep the tradition moving forward.
“I think they know what they did. It’s significant,” Sherertz said.
It was the first time to win three state titles in a row. That accomplishment is a great one, Sherertz said.
“That’s been a monkey that now is off our back,” Sherertz said. “We’ve never put three together in a row.”
As is their custom, the team celebrated after state by eating pizza at G & D in Columbia.
“We all had a good time,” Sherertz said.
But as is his wont, Sherertz already is looking ahead.
“We must continue to grow and not rest on our laurels,” Sherertz said. “The race is on for 2020.”