The CBC Cadets will try to make it three consecutive state Class 4 state championships.
“We’re as ready to go as we can be,” coach Cornell Robinson said. “We’re laid back. It’s another tournament, man. It’s fun and we’re going to have fun.”
The Cadets have qualified seven 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.
CBC won state the past two years. Last year, the Cadets finished with 169.5 points and two years ago, CBC posted a winning total of 155.5 points.
Robinson said his club goes into state feeling good.
“There’s no pressure on us, “Robinson said. “We’re younger this year. I had to coach more this year. This year’s team is different. It’s hard to keep the train going. There’s a lot of good teams at state so we’ll see what happens.”
Here are the CBC matmen who have qualified to compete at state this weekend:
113: Santino Robinson
120: Alex Flerlage
132: Jacob Fryer
160: Vincent Zerban
170: Lucas White
182: Jack Darrah
195: Luke Ebers
There are some notable names not on the list. Senior Josh Saunders, who has signed to wrestle at Cornell, did not return this semester to the team. He is a three-time state champion.
Saunders, who last wrestled in the Red Schmitt Classic over the winter break for CBC, finished his high school career with a 117-10 record. He won state at 132 pounds as a freshman and sophomore. Last winter, he captured the title at 152 pounds.
Saunders is training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He missed an opportunity in November to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. There is a second-chance tournament in March and Saunders is working out and will try to qualify for the Olympic team.
Robinson is philosophical about the loss of Saunders.
“Josh didn’t come back,” Robinson said. “He’s moving on to bigger and better things. He’s missing out on representing himself as a senior in high school. I think that’s a big deal. When it’s over, it’s gone. You’re only in high school once. You don’t need grow up too fast.”
State champion Wyatt Henson did not return to CBC this season. He and his family moved back to Pennsylvania, where he wrestled as a freshman before coming to CBC for his sophomore year.
Also, freshman Colby Warren is hurt and he didn’t wrestle in the district so he won’t have a chance a state.
“I think he would have qualified for state for sure, Robinson said. “But he will have to wait now.”
That’s a lot of points CBC won’t get from losing those three grapplers.
“We’re still going to do our best. We’re not giving up,” Robinson said. “It is what it is. We’ll do the best we can. If we do win it, it’ll be a miracle. I think they’re ready for state. We’ve been working and getting ready for it.”
CBC won the Class 4 District 1 meet at Northwest. It was the fourth consecutive district crown for the Cadets.
“The most impressive thing about the district is the kids were not expected to win it,” Robinson said. “With us winning, it shows you how talented the group really is. I wasn’t planning on winning it. I just wanted to get as many kids through to state as possible.”
CBC had four individual champions in the district meet.
Defending state champ Vincent Zerban, a junior, won district at 160 pounds. He was at 132 last year.
“He jumped up big time in weight this year,” Robinson said. “He’s getting so tall. It’s a better development for him. He’s learned how to wrestle bigger guys and win.”
At 113, freshman Santino Robinson won at district with a pin over Blake Jost, of Seckman.
“He looked real good. He pinned everybody,” Robinson said. “He does look really good and I’m excited for him going into state. I think he’ll be pretty dang good at state.”
At 170, junior Lucas White won a 2-0 decision over Tommy Hagan, of Lafayette.
“That was a hard-fought match,” Robinson said. “Other than that, he pinned everybody. He wrestled really well.”
At 182, sophomore Jack Darrah scored a 10-2 major decision over Luke Dickhaus, over Eureka.
“He dominated his weight,” Robinson said. “He looked great.”
Now, it’s time for state. Robinson is ready.
“We’re ready to roll and try to take over the world as usual,” Robinson said.