Don’t get Jay McGovern wrong. The Lee’s Summit coach is thrilled to have nine wrestlers hitting the mats at this week’s Missouri Class 4 state wrestling tournament. He’s excited about the Tigers’ prospects, as are his wrestlers.
Still, McGovern and the Tigers head to Columbia on Feb. 18 thinking they could be in a better position then they are.
That the Tigers got nine through and placed second in the team standings in last weekend’s District 4 meet at Blue Springs South is a notable accomplishment, the most in McGovern’s three years leading the Tigers, and the most for the program since 1996.
But the Tigers also dropped three close matches in the semifinals and managed only one individual champion. And they only won three of their six consolation finals matches.
“There were some good things and bad things, but overall, most of it’s good,” McGovern said. “They may be a little disappointed, but that may fuel a little bit of hunger for them when they get to state.”
Juan Casteneda won the Tigers lone district championship at 170 pounds. Trey Broker (120 pounds) and Cartland Allen (132) both placed second, Alan Olivas (126), Brady Daniels (160) and Ali’I Loyola (220) claimed thirds while Skyler Reid (106), Kevin Foley (113) and Austin Jones (138) all wound up fourth.
“I feel like we should have definitely been able to win this tournament,” said Casteneda, who earned his first trip to state. “We just broke down in our finals matches and we should have won more of those.”
Casteneda had to work hard to win his final, hanging on for a 3-2 decision over Alexander Carpenter of Park Hill South. Casteneda, 30-7, had faced Carpenter four previous times and won three of those matches.
“He’s come a long way, and he just keeps going at guys, doesn’t back down,” McGovern said. “You see him getting confident in that he can get a takedown whenever he wants it. And that’s fun to see.”
It’s also fun to watch Lee’s Summit North junior Keegan McCormick, who was seeking his third trip to state. McCormick won the district 145 title, but he needed a takedown at the buzzer for a 4-3 decision over Canten Marriott of Park Hill to do it.
“The first couple of takedowns I got turned into a stalemate” said McCormick, who had lost to Marriott the week before. “I knew coming in I really needed this win going into the state tournament.”
McCormick was one of three Broncos to advance. Austin Hanson took second at 113 pounds after suffering a heartbreaking 11-8 loss to Rockhurst’s Colin Valdiviez in the final, and Evan Weidner placed fourth at 170.
While he was happy to see those three go on, North coach Cameron Clover will head to Columbia thinking about what could have been. The Broncos had two other wrestlers come within a match of qualifying for the top four.
“You always want more,” Clover said. “Five could’ve gone but we got three. You don’t want to be greedy, but we could’ve had more.”
Lee’s Summit West came back from its journey to the Class 3 district in Waynesville with two champions among its five qualifiers. Lawyer Beckum captured the 126-pound title while D.J. Brasfield-Thogerson won at 152. The Titans also got seconds from Austin Eveler (132) and Tyler Nelson (195) and a third from Steffon Fassett (145).
While it was a long trip, West coach Ethan Hauck said it was worth it to face the caliber of competition there.
“That district I just about guarantee you will have the majority of medals,” Hauck said. “It has tremendous depth.”
The Titans got an idea of that depth in the wrestlers that they failed to qualify, most notably Jake Woods. A 138-pounder with a 42-3 record going into districts, Woods fell in the semifinals and then dropped a 5-4 decision against Clayton Wegener of Eureka in the consolation semifinals.
“His A-game wasn’t there. That’s all there was to it,” Hauck said. “He’s just a sophomore with a very bright future. I guarantee he will learn from this.”
The state wrestling tournament runs through Saturday, Feb. 22 at Mizzou Arena. Finals matches for all four classes are scheduled to start Saturday at 4:30 p.m.