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Examiner
  • Grain Valley wrestling slowly progresses despite defeat

  • It’s tough for him to pinpoint how exactly, but there’s no doubt in Jesse Whitson’s mind that his program is slowly moving in the right direction.

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  • It’s tough for him to pinpoint how exactly, but there’s no doubt in Jesse Whitson’s mind that his program is slowly moving in the right direction.
    The Grain Valley wrestling coach watched his team fall 46-13 to Odessa on Thursday in a Missouri River Valley Conference dual at Grain Valley High School, but even on a night when the Eagles won just two matches Whitson noticed subtle progress.
    “I see us doing things better,” Whitson said. “Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything specific, but we’re getting better in certain situations we weren’t good in a week ago.”
    The Eagles met the Bulldogs over the weekend in the MRVC Tournament and suffered a similar defeat, but Whitson said his guys put up a tougher fight on Thursday.
    Junior Keith Jenkins earned a 7-5 decision over Mason Bake in the 120-pound match and senior Tyler Meredith downed Colton Sousley by major decision (15-6) at 145 for the Grain Valley victories.
    Senior Cameron Nadeau called the final margin of defeat a wake-up call, but also added that the Eagles are trying to take a big-picture outlook.
    “We scrapped hard,” said Nadeau, who suffered a 1-0 loss to Jake Bartow at 138. “We showed we have room for improvement and I feel like we can use that to drive ourselves for the big tournament. The big thing which we should be looking at is districts. We all learned things tonight and we need to go back and look tomorrow to start getting better.”
    Nadeau was one of four Eagles to fall in narrow decisions. Harrison Bamman (106) lost to Dakota Miller 2-1, Cody Paxton (285) fell to Hunter Vorwark 3-0 and Axel Mills (126) dropped a 5-0 decision to Mark Fiegenbaum.
    This is all a gradual process for Whitson, who is in his second season at Grain Valley. As he seeks to build the squad’s depth, he’s taking a bottom-up approach.
    “That plan is there,” Whitson said. “But it’s just like building anything else, it’s one brick at a time. Even your JV kids, it’s just one of those guys at a time. We’ve been telling them you’re only as strong as your weakest link and that’s been a good way to push them.”
    They’re not there yet, and Thursday showed they’ve got a ways to go, but the Eagles maintain that with a little patience and perseverance they’ll develop into an area contender before you know it.
    “We need to keep pushing,” Meredith said. “We’re fighting the good fight, but we’ve got to step it up a notch if we want to get to where we need to be and if we want to get where we’re capable of being.”
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