Former Oak Grove 4-time state champion Infranca building St. Michael wrestling program

Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Matt Infranca

Matt Infranca remembers his first conversation with activities director Mary Kroening when he was applying for the head wrestling coach position at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School in Lee’s Summit.

“I was talking with Mrs. Kroening and she asked me about my goals,” said Infranca, a four-time state champion from 1990-1994 at Oak Grove High School. “I told her, ‘To get seven to nine wrestlers to state every year.’”

Infranca, who was hired for the job, proved to be a man of his word as the Guardians got eight of its 12 sectional qualifiers on to the March 10 Class 1 state tournament at Cable Dahmer Arena, including three sectional champions – Lucas Barry (106 pounds), David Maschger (113) and Andrew Stanfield (126).

More:Eagles, Indians advance wrestlers to state

“I knew we could do it,” Infranca said, “I think I knew it before the guys on the team knew it. For so many of the guys, wrestling was just a hobby, or something to make them better for another sport.

“But they kept working, and getting better and it had a snowball effect at the right time of the season.”

Frankie Kratofil (138) also made it to the sectional finals to advance to state. Larry Smith (285), Zach Berry (195), Jakson Wimberly (182), Jackson Stringfield (170) will also wrestle at state after finishing third.

Oftentimes individuals who have great success in their respective sport do not become great coaches because success came easy to them.

Infranca wrestled collegiately at Nebraska and Missouri

That is not the case with Infranca, who won four MRVC championships, four district championships, four sectional titles and four state championships at Oak Grove (112 as a freshman, 125 as a sophomore, 119 as a junior, 125 as a senior). He had a career record of 143 wins and only four losses. Only three Missouri high school wrestlers had won four state titles before Infranca. The Panthers won three state championships over his four years and he earned All-America honors from USA Wrestling, Asics and Amateur Wrestling News.

He went on to success as a college wrestler at Nebraska and Missouri.

But he learned from his coach and mentor that it's all about the team.

“When we went to state the first time, I talked to Coach Glasgow, and he told me it was all about the team – winning a state championship,” he said, referring to Bob Glasgow, the former Oak Grove hall of fame coach who won 12 state wrestling titles and is currently on the staff at St. Michael. “And that’s the approach I’ve taken here – it’s all about the team. If you take care of your business out on the mat, you’re going to help your team have success.”