Hunter Newsom upends defending champ to join Alexander as Eagles champions
Only one of many great Grain Valley wrestlers throughout the history of the program had stood at the top of the podium at the end of the state tournament.
Make that two.
The only one to capture that elusive individual championship was Mavrick Alexander, who took the 132-pound weight class in 2015. He happened to be sitting matside Friday, filming with his video camera, as Grain Valley senior Hunter Newsom was wrestling for the 195-pound state title in the Class 3 Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships at Cable Dahmer Arena.
Not only did Newsom make it to the finals, he won.
He got an escape with 8 seconds left to break a 5-5 deadlock and held on for a 6-5 victory against previously unbeaten and defending state champion Jeremiah Larson of Neosho.
Now he’s just the second state champion in program history.
“I felt great; it’s these moments we train for all season,” Newsom said. “It started during the summer, going to MO West (club team), grinding and putting in the work. I am just thankful I can be here to pull it off.”
After a restart, Newsom dodged a shot attempt from Larson, just like he had been doing all match. When the final whistle blew, Newsom flexed his muscles, pointed toward the Grain Valley section of the crowd and tapped his chest with both hands.
Moments later, he gave Grain Valley head coach Jeff Bowman a tight hug. He then did a Lambeau-style leap over the barricade into a handful of Grain Valley fans.
After the match, Newsom told Alexander, “You’re not alone anymore.” Alexander was there to get it on film.
“My sophomore year at state, we always do notecards before,” Newsom said. “(Alexander) made a quote, ‘It’s lonely until you’re at the top.’ He said it’s lonely at the top. So that was me saying, you’re not alone anymore. I am a state champ, too.”
The odds were against Newsom to start the season. He got a late start because he contracted COVID-19. But he managed to put together a strong season and get a state title to boot.
“It took hard training and just focusing on the basics,” Newsom said when asked how he peaked at the right time. “You just stick to what the plan is and do what you do.”
Afterward, Grain Valley coach Jeff Bowman was choked up talking about Newsom’s state title and had a message for the senior before the match.
“You worked hard, you worked your (butt) off for it; you just have to put it all out there. Just go out there and wrestle hard for six minutes,” Newsom said, recalling what Bowman said.
That’s exactly what Newsom did, as he took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period before Larson got another escape to tie it.
Newsom went up 5-2 in the third after an escape and a takedown. Larson got an escape and a takedown himself to tie before Newsom got the clutch escape.
“The day he walked into that room freshman year, I told him, ‘We’re going to be a state champ,’” Bowman said of Newsom, who defeated Jacob Ott of Webb City 6-2 in the semifinal to advance to the final. “And to go out and do that today in the fashion that he did, completely dominating that match, it’s all the emotions wrapped into one.
“We’ve had so many ups and downs, and to finish it with that is awesome.”
And Newsom, who has signed to play football at the South Dakota School of Mines, has set the example for the younger wrestlers in the program, Bowman said.
“He works his (butt) off,” Bowman said. “That’s why he won a state title. And when the younger guys see that, they want to work hard, too.”
After Alexander won his state title, an art student made a painting of him shouting in celebration after winning in 2015. The painting is currently inside the trophy case at the school. Could there be one of Newsom going next to Alexander’s in the near future?
“That would be awesome, but if there is no painting, a gold medal is good enough for me,” Newsom said.
Newsom wasn’t the only Eagle to get an all-state medal as heavyweight Donovan McBride took fourth. He won his 285-pound quarterfinal match against Alexander Tischler of Whitfield, but was pinned in the semifinals by Camdenton’s Dakota Davis and was pinned in the third-place match by Rockwood Summit’s Michael Fanz.
In both his losses, McBride went for a throw, slipped, landed on his back and got pinned.
“Third place, fourth place, fifth place, sixth place – they all get the same medal,” said McBride, who finished his career as a two-time state medalist. “I just wrestled my match, it didn’t matter to me.
“I was going for a feet-to-back move and either he was going on his back or I was going on mine.”
Like Newsom, McBride got a late start to the wrestling season, but his delay was because of an injury from football.
“It affected my conditioning for sure,” said McBride, who has signed to play football at FCS school Murray State in Kentucky. “After the first period, I was starting to feel it.”
Gavin Parks (106), Dru Azcona (126) and Tanner Barker (138) also competed at state for the Eagles, but were eliminated before the medal matches.
Fort Osage senior Jeremiah Phillips (160) also earned an all-state medal, taking fifth following 4-3 win over Riley Brown of Smithville in the consolation finals. It was his first trip to the state tournament.
“It was pretty awesome,” Phillips said. “It was something that I have always dreamed of. I didn’t place as high as I wanted, but a medal is a medal.”
Rylan Mansfield (113), Jesse Newton (152) and David Jacquez (195) all competed but were eliminated for the Indians.
William Chrisman’s Mason Walters (182) and Van Horn’s Ethan Moses (120) also competed but fell short of a state medal.