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Open weights help Indians roll past Belton

By Michael Smith
The Examiner

The Fort Osage wrestling team had an atypical Senior Night when facing off against Belton Thursday at home.

It’s usually a night in which the seniors get to shine, but with the rapid spread of COVID-19, that forced many of the Pirates wrestlers to quarantine, leaving two out of three Indians seniors without an opponent.

Even though Belton won four out of six contested matches, Fort Osage won the dual 45-16.

The Pirates were missing the majority of their team, which resulted in multiple forfeit wins for Fort Osage. Those winning by forfeit included David Jacquez (195), Dylan Reed (126), senior Bryan Herrera (138), Ethan Lamb (145), Jason Perriman (152) and senior Jesse Newton (160).

Even then, Belton provided a challenge for Fort Osage as it will head into Saturday’s Suburban Conference Tournament.

“Whether it is 14 matches or six, Belton comes ready to fight,” Fort Osage head coach Brandon Wackerman said. “There were some good matches out there. We’ll see some of the same kids this weekend and in the postseason. Belton is a measuring stick in Class 3.

“We had some good matches today and some matches where we are going to have to close the gap on later and do better. It was good to wrestle on Senior Night with a fully healthy team.”

And one of those healthy competitors was Fort junior Steven Gabb (285), who dominated Tyler Felicone and earned a pin in 39 seconds. Gabb, who is No. 2 in his weight class in Class 3 in the MissouriWrestling.com rankings, wasn’t sure he’d be able to wrestle Thursday after what happened last weekend.

The junior suffered the injury that forced him to forfeit the championship match against Oak Grove sophomore Caleb Groff in the Oak Grove Panther Classic. However, his left ankle was able to heal enough just in time for Thursday’s dual.

“It felt like a pretty bad ankle injury at first,” said Gabb, who limped off the mat after his match with Groff. “The next day it was feeling a lot better. It was just very tight. There wasn’t a lot of pain. It’s when I run on it when it hurts.”

Fort Osage’s other contested win came from Rylan Mansfield (113), who pulled off an 8-3 upset win over No. 5-ranked Antonio Rizzi.

“It was a good match. It was a district and sectional bout,” Mansfield said. “I am very happy about that win. My shots were pretty good. It was about knowing when to let him up and knowing when to hold him down.”

Wackerman said he thinks Mansfield could make some noise in the postseason this year.

“He’s in a terrific weight class in a terrific class,” Wackerman said. “There are a lot of freshmen and sophomores at that same weight. The difference between Class 4 and Class 3 is Class 4 (113 pounds) is a dryer weight. It’s not as thick as it is in our district and sectional.

“When the postseason comes, we are going to have to wrestle great. And if we wrestle like we did tonight for the next month, we are going to be winning a lot of matches.”

Fort Osage dropped a pair of marquee matchups when Belton’s Luca Riley (170), who’s ranked No. 4 in Class 3 in his weight class, had three takedowns and earned a hard-fought 7-2 decision over Jeremiah Phillips, who is ranked No. 5.

At 182, Belton’s Zach Attebury was in a stalemate with Fort Osage’s Daniel Tapusoa in the first period, before both competitors went for a throw early in the second and Attebury ended up on top and got a pin in 2:32.

“We believe that we are equals there,” Wackerman said of the Phillips and Tapusoa matches. “The score may not have indicated it. We can improve upon those outcomes. We know what we are looking for. Motivating those guys tomorrow should be easier than it’s ever been.”

At 120, Fort Osage’s Kyle LeHotta fell to Lane Cross 7-2 and John Newton (132) lost to Brady Littleton 15-3.

In the girls dual, Fort Osage topped Belton 54-24.

For Fort Osage, sophomore Haley Ward (151), ranked No. 2, defeated Samantha Archer by pin in 30 seconds; Jazmine Naylor (159) pinned Victoria Powell in 1:47; Taylor Hillbrand (220), Emily Floray (285) and Bridgett Baker (102) won by forfeit; Aroma Marrufo (127) pinned Georgia Meakins in 1:04; Sidney Sullivan (132) pinned Rylee Meredith in 3:44; and Kayleigh McGrath (137) and Lauren Hahne (143) won by forfeit.