The Whitfield Warriors went out on top as the program bid goodbye to Class 1 state wrestling.
The Warriors scored a program first by winning its fourth consecutive Class 1 team championship. The Warriors finished first with 172.5 points in the 90th Missouri Boys Wrestling State Championships at Mizzou Arena. Whitfield earned its ninth championship in the last 13 seasons. Whitfield captured four individual titles, and had two second-place finishes to secure the victory.
“We had a pretty good tournament,” veteran Whitfield coach Charlie Sherertz said. “We had pretty high expectations for state. For the most part, the kids lived up to them. All in all, it was a good tournament for us.”
Whitfield will move to Class 3 next year to compete.
“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.”
Whitfield’s wrestling program has nine state titles. Whitfield has won state crowns in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2008, 2007. Second-place finishes came in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2016.
“It’s good to go out of Class 1 on top,” Sherertz said. “I had that comment made a couple of times like that at state about other schools being glad we’re not in Class 1 anymore. It’s not like our enrollment going up to Class 3 levels.”
Freshman AJ Rallo (40-7) won at 106 pounds by pinning Brayden Dubes, of Centralia, in 3 minutes, 44 seconds. Rallo had a 12-2 lead in the second period before he scored the win by fall.
“He was clearly dominant for the meet,” Sherertz said. “He’s been wrestling for a long time. He got better and better this season. He’s got a motor on him. He goes and got. He had some bad habits when he came in here from Little League. We cleaned him up. He great as a wrestler throughout the season. Training is hard. Wrestling is hard. He does it. He’s exciting to watch.”
Sophomore Evan Binder (43-5) won his second state crown. Binder won the state title at 106 last season. This year, he came in first at 113 pounds. Binder scored a 6-2 decision over Jason Strope, of Fatima.
“Coming in, Binder didn’t know he’d had a spot on the team last year and he won state,” Sherertz said. “He keeps getting better and better. He was our most consistent kid the second half of the season. He’s a very disciplined kid. I don’t have to worry about him. He’s self sufficient.”
At 132 pounds, senior Connor McAteer (37-8) won his second state title. He won state as a sophomore at 113 pounds. He scored a 11-0 major decision over Donavan Parn, of Brookfield, who won state last year at 126. McAteer did not get to wrestle last year. He suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss state.
“You never know how a kid will respond,” Sherertz said. “He had some questionable performances during the season where he didn’t look like a superstar. He was a very different kid at state. He was focused. He was extremely dominant. He was a man on a mission.
“After the disappointment of last year and having to watch state last year from the stands, it changed his perspective.”
Sophomore Chase Brock (26-1) finished second last year at 160. This year, he is a state champ at 182. Brock, who missed a month with a shoulder injury, won a 3-1 decision over senior Grafton Littrell, of Centralia.
“He just kind of grew physically into 182,” Sherertz said. “Last year was difficult. It was a controversial ending. He got picked up and slammed. You got 2 minutes to figure out a lot of things. Can the kid continue or win by disqualification? He continued and thought we made the right move. It’s really a tough situation for everyone involved.”
There was no controversy this year.
“He hurt his shoulder back in December and missed a month and that’s a very important part of the season,” Sherertz said. “He . wrestled with a shoulder brace on when he came back in January. He was very dominant at state and didn’t make any mistakes. He did what he had to do in the final to be a state champ. There was nothing fancy.”
At 126, junior Logan Ferrero (41-8) lost a 4-3 decision to Lucas Laux, of Fatima. The defeat stopped Ferrero from winning a third state title. Ferrero scored a 3-2 victory over Laux last year in the title match at 120 pounds.
“It was tough to lose going for third state title,” Sherertz said. “I wish he would have done a couple of things differently. He was in charge and lost in the last 15 seconds. That’s tough. It can change in a heartbeat.”
Sophomore KJ Miley (36-7) finished second at 220. He lost an 8-2 decision to Cole Gripka, of Maysville.
“He didn’t wrestle his best match in the final,” Sherertz said. “I’m not slighting the kid (Gripka) he wrestled. He didn’t represent himself the way he could have. That happens some times. He’s young. Maybe the situation got the best of him.”
Senior Matthew Schueddig finished sixth at 152 to medal. He lost by injury default.
“He had back issues for about a year,” Sherertz said. “It’s tolerable and then it’s bad. He had a match in the quarterfinals where it got tweaked pretty bad. He was a shadow of himself for the rest of the tournament. He got on the podium as a senior and that’s wonderful thing for him.”
To celebrate the team title, the Warriors made their annual trip to G & D Pizza.
“It was good,” Sherertz said. “The kids really like it.
Whitfield will only lose two seniors from this team.
“We’ve got a good group of middle school kids coming in,” Sherertz said. “We’ve got some good ones coming back from this team. I think we’ll add a little flavor to Class 3 next year.”