Fort Osage coach Brandon Wackerman said he knows his team has a tough task ahead of it when his Indians compete in the Class 4 District 4 Tournament this coming weekend.
The district features Liberty (ranked No. 1 in the MissouriWrestling.com state poll and No. 5 in the Intermat Wrestling national poll), Staley (ranked No. 2), Park Hill (ranked No. 3), Suburban Big Six champion Lee’s Summit North, Blue Springs and other teams.
However, Wackerman, who is in his fourth year with the Indians, said his team is prepared for it. They got one final test at the Panther Classic Saturday at Oak Grove High School and fared well. Fort Osage took second place with 231 points. Monett, the defending Class 2 state champions won it with 311.5 points.
Blue Springs took third with 218.5 points, Mid-Buchanan was fourth (189.5) and Oak Grove fifth (184).
“I think we looked more ready to go to a district tournament today than we even did three or four weeks ago,” Wackerman said. “I feel confident knowing that we’ve wrestled in tough tournaments. We have been in tournaments that had those tough teams that have nationally ranked kids or have won state before or are perennial top-four teams.
“I think our strength of schedule this year is something that we did knowing that we shouldn’t worry if we have a few losses, or not be worried that we’re going to face tough, tough kids at districts because we’ve faced tough kids all year long.”
Senior Josh Rieck was one of those who had a tough match in the 160-pound championship against Monett’s Ethan Umfleet, who is ranked No. 1 in the state at Class 2. Rieck scored a takedown in the first period to go up 2-0. In the second period, he almost got pinned as Umfleet worked a near fall to jump ahead 3-2. A few seconds after that, Rieck managed to slip from under the bottom position and go ahead 4-3.
The Fort Osage senior then managed to keep Umfleet to the mat, mostly using ankle picks when the Monett sophomore tried to stand up.
“This boosted up my confidence quite a bit,” Rieck said. “I am going into (districts) pretty strong, and I am ready for anything that districts throw at me.
“State medal – that’s all I am really going for. I was short by a few points last year and I just want to get a medal around my neck at the state tournament.”
Stevie Gabb (285) took second and Keegan Emrick (106), Dylan Reed (120), Waylon Mansfield (126), Jeremiah Phillips (152) and Gavin Roller (220) each finished third for the Indians.
Like Fort Osage, Blue Springs had just one first-place finisher in defending state champion Korbin Shepherd, who is ranked No. 2 at 126 pounds. He faced Monett’s Matthew Dahl, whom he went to camp with, and earned a 5-1 victory. Before that, Shepherd spent a total of 1 minute, 4 seconds on the mat in three matches with quick pins in each.
“I knew going into the match that Matthew is a really tough kid,” Shepherd said. “We grew up at Perler camps together. I know all those Monett guys from those camps. We’re all buddies.”
Cayden Dotson (120) and Corbin Katamura (170) each finished second and Brock Sullivan (285) was third for the Wildcats.
Bobbe Lowe was happy to get his team a tune-up before taking on a loaded district field.
“That’s why I like wrestling the weekend before (districts) – it keeps us sharp and keeps our minds ready,” Lowe said. “We’ve just got to go in believing that we can compete with those guys. Whether we can beat every one of them doesn’t matter, we just have to go in and compete.”
For Oak Grove, two wrestlers captured first-place medals.
Oak Grove sophomore Adrian Whitehead (170) controlled the match from start to finish in a 9-2 victory over Blue Springs’ Katamura.
“He’s strong, so I just had to find ways around that and be quick and be heavy on top,” Whitehead said of Katamura.
In a matchup of two ranked wrestlers in the 195-pound final, No. 5 Zander Brinegar of Oak Grove upset No. 1-ranked Kaden Dillon of Eldon 11-6. A late takedown and near fall provided Brinegar a cushion in the third period.
“He’s a great kid,” Brinegar said of Dillon. “I wasn’t expecting anything, but you always have to go out there and wrestle your hardest. That’s what me and the Oak Grove program do.”
Anthony Erickson (145) was third and Hunter Chaney (220) was second for the Panthers.