Lucas Barry tops two top-ranked wrestlers to earn Guardians' first championship

By Michael Smith
The Examiner
St. Michael the Archangel freshman Lucas Barry flexes after pinning No. 2-ranked Kaden Crane of Palmyra in their 106-pound semifinal in the Class 1 state championships Wednesday at Cable Dahmer Arena. Barry later Barry later defeated No. 1-ranked Cody Strope of Fatima 4-1 to claim the St. Michael program's first state title.

In the four-year history of the St. Michael the Archangel Catholic wrestling program, it has never crowned a state champion or even had a state medalist.

That all changed Wednesday at Cable Dahmer Arena.

St. Michael freshman Lucas Barry became the first state champion in Guardians' history after winning the 106-pound weight class at the Class 1 Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships. His teammate, junior Drew Stanfield, took third in the 126-pound division.

The opener of the four boys wrestling state tournaments was somewhat marred by a mid-competition delay because of the failure of spectators to heed COVID-19 guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing.

After a brief delay to remind them of the rules and people to move around, the Guardians completed their banner year under first-year head coach Matt Infranca, formerly an assistant at Blue Springs.

“He has laid the foundation of what we wanted to do at St. Michael,” Infranca said of Barry’s state title. “We hope to have several more come up behind him. He deserves it. He’s a leader in the room and works his butt off every day.”

Barry, who is ranked No. 3 in his weight class according to the poll, finished the season 41-1 after earning a 4-1 upset victory over No. 1-ranked Cody Strope of Fatima in the championship match. Barry also pinned No. 2-ranked Kaden Crane of Palmyra in the semifinals.

St. Michael the Archangel freshman Lucas Barry looks for the referee's signal while pinning No. 2-ranked Kaden Crane of Palmyra in their 106-pound semifinal in the Class 1 state championships Wednesday at Cable Dahmer Arena. Barry later defeated No. 1-ranked Cody Strope of Fatima 4-1 to claim the first wrestling state title in St. Michael history.

Barry’s only loss of the season came against Strope, a match in which he was pinned in just 25 seconds during the Grandview Tournament on Jan. 29. This time, things were different as Barry got a takedown and a near fall and made his four-point lead hold up.

“I knew what I had to do to get first,” Barry said. “I had to do it for my school.

“In my first match (against Strope), I got caught. In this match, I stayed out of ties and cleared his ties and I got to my shots. I was very aggressive and I was moving, and I did OK on top. I would have liked to have got the pin, but I still got a near fall.”

Added Infranca: “We didn’t want Lucas to get beat, but we were glad it happened at the time (during the regular season). We were able to make some adjustments and he followed the game plan today.”

After getting his first state title, Barry wants to accomplish something Infranca did when he was a wrestler at Oak Grove High School.

“My goal is to be a four-timer,” Barry said, referring to Infranca’s four state titles. “It’s one match at a time, though.”

Stanfield, who entered ranked No. 2 and had state title hopes, fell to No. 3 Sam Wilhelm of Knob Noster by a 3-1 decision in the semifinals. The junior then bounced back with a 6-3 win against Brayden Stevens of Palmyra to take third.

“I am definitely not satisfied; I wanted that state title,” Stanfield said. “When I lost in the semis, I had to get third place. That was the next best thing. I should have been scoring more points.

“I am going to work hard all offseason, work hard next season and get that state title.”

St. Michael the Archangel junior Drew Stanfield laments his 3-1 loss to Knob Noster's Sam Wilhelm in a 126-pound semifinal in the Class 1 state tournament Wednesday at Cable Dahmer Arena. Stanfield later bounced back to beat Palmyra's Brayden Stevens to finish third and claim all-state honors.

Added Infranca: “He’s got a lot of wrestling left in him. He’ll be back this spring and summer and get his name out there.”

David Maschger (113), Frankie Kratofil (138), Jackson Stringfield (170), Jakson Wimberly (182), Zach Berry (195) and Larry Smith (285) also competed at state for the Guardians, but all fell short of a state medal.

During the semifinals and third-round wrestlebacks, the tournament was stopped for a few minutes by Missouri State High School Activities Association officials after some fans failed to adhere to social distancing guidelines and mask mandates.

MSHSAA director of wrestling Greg Stahl had the wrestlers clear the mat around 4 p.m. to announce that the state tournament would stop until the crowd adhered to the guidelines at the arena.

He stated that only wrestlers and on-mat officials are allowed to not have a mask on at the tournament.

“I absolutely don’t want to pause this tournament as we’ve done,” Stahl said. “I want to resume this outstanding day and this wonderful event. But there are kids in the tunnel right now waiting to wrestle – once I get the green light from the people I have to answer to.”

He then asked the crowd to move out of seats that are “clearly marked as not available to sit.”

According to MSHSAA communications assistant Tyler Wall, there aren’t any plans to change the rules for fans attending the state tournament for Classes 2-4 Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He said fans must wear a mask and not sit in seats that are marked with blue tape to avoid any more delays.