William Chrisman senior David Toese said he was “self destructive” for a good portion of his 2018-19 wrestling season.

He was off to a slower start than he would have liked, especially compared to his 2017-18 season. It all had to do with his mentality.

“My junior year, I just went after it and I wasn’t really worried about who I was facing,” Toese said. “I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder that everyone wanted to get after me for. And I let that get the best of me. My junior year, I was in it to do my best. This year I hesitated.

“My weight was also 10 pounds lighter than last year. That was one of the factors.”

Toese (285) went into the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships with a 49-2 record during his junior year and ended up taking fourth. This season, he went into state at 43-8. He didn’t have near the momentum he had from a year ago.

Toese knew he had to change his mentality. The week leading up to state, he started meditating to collect his thoughts and regain his confidence.

It worked.

Toese won three consecutive matches by one point, including a 4-3 ultimate-tiebreaker victory over previously unbeaten No. 1-ranked (on the missouriwrestling.com poll) Landon Porter of DeSoto in the Class 3 semifinals. He capped off an improbable state championship run with a 15-2 victory over No. 2-ranked Tanner Karnes of Warrensburg, becoming the first state champion from Chrisman since 2002.

Because of the senior’s incredible run, which included a 2-1 win over No. 3-ranked Cody Imbierowicz in the quarterfinals, Toese is The Examiner’s 2018-19 Wrestler of the Year.

“During my finals match, I sat down in a corner and closed my eyes and focused on my breathing,” Toese said. “Everyone was looking at me like I was some sort of weirdo.”

It paid off as he dominated one of his good friends in Karnes, using his own momentum against him for multiple throws and takedown points. The two hugged after the match and Toese later met with Karnes’ parents to greet them.

“Honestly, Tanner and I were talking in the tunnel before running onto the mat. We just didn’t want anyone else to wrestle in the finals,” Toese said. “Me and Tanner are really good friends. It’s really awesome to finish your last high school wrestling match with one of your best friends, especially someone you trust.”

It capped off Toese running the gauntlet, defeating the top three ranked wrestlers in his weight class. He did it as an undersized heavyweight. Toese was at 240 pounds and was outweighed by his final two opponents by 40 and 20 pounds, respectively.

“It was an advantage for me because they expected me to be quick, but at the same time, they didn’t expect me to be strong for my size,” Toese said. “I like proving them wrong. We all saw it in my final match when I threw Tanner Karnes three times. No one was expecting that for someone my size compared to him.

“I like how they underestimate me, thinking I am not going to be as good as they imagined me being. But when I get my hand raised, and they walk away all pissed off, that makes my day.”

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Toese’s run was his ability to come out on top in three nail-biting wins.

“It was stressful, but I’d put my paycheck on David getting out from underneath,” Chrisman coach Riley Glasgow said. “We walked about it every day. It’s his best position. He is very, very hard to ride and that will translate to the next level for him.”

Added Toese: “Everyone just wanted to put their dead weight on me, and I just tried to get up, so they couldn’t do that. Then when I got to my feet, I would just run like someone was trying to tackle me in football.”

He also vastly improved on his offense from his junior season.

“We worked on the lateral drop all year long and he got very good at that,” Glasgow said. ‘We also just tried to progress and use some swing singles and open up on offense. Part of him losing more matches this year was taking more risks, which is OK at the beginning of the year.

“We progressed all year and the best came out in February like we talked about.”

That progression could lead to a college wrestling career for Toese. He’s received interest from some colleges like Graceland University, Missouri Valley College and a few others.

“I am just taking it day by day,’ Toese said. “Whoever gives me the best offer, that’s where I am going.”