Whitfield coach Charlie Sherertz and his Warriors wrestling team will try to make it four consecutive state wrestling championships as the team will be making its swansong in Class 1.
Whitfield’s wrestling program has eight state titles. Whitfield has won state crowns in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2008, 2007. Second-place finishes came in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2016.
“We know we have a bulls-eye on our backs,” Sherertz said. “There’s no margin for error.”
Whitfield’s wrestling program will be moving up to Class 3 next year,” Sherertz said.
“There’s a new state rule that was put in place called the championship factor,” Sherertz said. “It’s sport wide, not just for wrestling. We seem to be the only one affected by it. What happens is you accumulate points by district and state championships over a six-year span.
“That is figured in on whether you stay where you’re at or go up a maximum of two classes. So we’re going up two classes next year. It is what it is. We’re trying to make sure we go out of Class 1 on top. That’s a goal of mine.”
The Warriors have qualified 12 matmen for the state meet that is set to begin a three-day run Thursday at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Class 1 and 2 boys first-round matches along with girls first-round matches and Class 3 and 4 boys first-round matches are set for Thursday. Quarterfinals and wrestlebacks are scheduled for Friday. The third session begins Saturday morning with girls and boys fourth-round wrestlebacks and third- and fifth-place matches for girls and boys. In the afternoon, girls and boys championship matches begin at 4:30 p.m.
“This is the best time of the year I think but it’s also the most nerve wracking,” Sherertz said. “We’re still predominantly young. We’ve got to connect all the dots. It’s never easy. Sometimes it works out all right but it’s really never easy.
“We’re up against some pretty stiff competition this year. I don’t like the idea where we are a favorite or a heavy favorite. I don’t feel that way and I ought to know.”
Going to state for Whitfield are the following wrestlers:
106: Alexander Rallo
113: Evan Binder
120: Benjamin Carter
126: Logan Ferrero
132: Connor McAteer
138: Kobe Raeman
145: Reese Callahan
152: Matthew Schueddig
170 Patrick Schulte
182: Chase Brock
220: Keith Miley
285: Alexander Tischler
It’s a good group, Sherertz said.
“They are very talented and very temperamental,” Sherertz said. “When they’re good, they’re really good but they’re not always good. Our regular season was pretty good. We won the Fox Invitational to start off and then we ran into some injuries and had some hiccups here and there. Our middle tournaments in Granite City, the Kansas City Stampede and the Geary (Oklahoma) Invitational were frustrating. We made some mistakes.
“Then in the Kyle Thrasher, we wrestled really well as a team and won it. Then we capped it off with a nice win over CBC. That’s a big deal.”
Sherertz credited his team with getting “a little more disciplined” as the season progressed.
“We’re starting to pull the pieces together,” Sherertz said “I hope to keep the momentum going.”
The Wildcats won the Class 1 District 1 tournament with 267.5 points. Whitfield has won the district 19 of the past 20 years.
“We’ve outgrown the district,” Sherertz said. “We need a bigger challenge.”
Winning district championships were Rallo, Binder, Carter, Ferrero, McAteer, Raeman, Callahan, Schueddig, Brock and Miley.
“We had some strong performances from kids that were not seeded No. 1 and hadn’t won a tournament,” Sherertz said. “That was pretty nice. A freshman who’s been a backup at 120 was Ben Carter. We needed him and he won the district. Kobe Raeman was the No. 4 seed and he beat the No. 1 seed in the semifinals and then won the final over the No. 2 seed.
“We had another big win from Callahan, who is a sophomore. He was a state qualifier last year. He’s been inconsistent this year. He’s really stepped up and started to mature a little bit. Maybe it’s more important to him now. He had the best match in the finals for us. He got a big win. He beat a kid (Shyne Tucker of Lift For Life) that had just three losses. It’s a big deal. I was really happy with his performance. That’s the kind of effort we needed and we got it from him.”
His Warriors are ready for state, Sherertz said.
“They’re fighters. They have to fight one more weekend,” Sherertz said. “It’s the most important fight of the season.”
As far as a team title goes, Sherertz said there will be big competition.
“I think they’re several teams we’ve got to pay attention to,” Sherertz said. “Centralia has been beating up everyone all year long. They’ve done nothing but win all year. To me, they’re the team to beat. Lathrop is returning a whole bunch of state medalists. They’re very deep. Really, you can’t look past anyone.”