After walking off the mat for the final time Saturday at the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Boonville senior Kyle Cook waved to a pluthera of fans as he headed toward the tunnel.
Knowing that he had just lost 5-4 in the championship match against Reed Springs Zach Kearney in the 220-pound weight class, Cook felt like he had done everything he could against Kearney.
As for Boonville junior Andrew Broyhill, he had his medal hopes dashed Friday in the third-round wrestlebacks against Cameron's Marshall Colson to finish the state tournament at 2-2.
While finishing the season with the same exact record as last year at 42-5 overall, Cook said he came out and tried to wrestle his best match. "I thought I wrestled a tough match, it was just a heartbreaker," Cook said. "We were pretty equal, I just came up one point short. I worked my butt off but he was just one step ahead."
A two-time state qualifier, Cook couldn't have had a better draw in the tournament while facing three out of his four opponents earlier in the season with three wins.
Of course the one opponent Cook had yet to face this season came in the opening round at state against Sumner's Marvin Brown. Although Cook wound up winning by a pin in 5:09, he stated after the match that he wished he could have gotten the pin quicker.
Cook got his wish in the quarterfinals on Friday against Cameron's Levi Marlay. Having beaten Marlay earlier in the season in the Excelsior Springs Tournament, Cook wasted little time getting the pin this time against Marlay in 40 seconds.
Boonville wrestling coach Christian Stock said he told Cook prior to the match to be aggressive. "It was basically one of those conversations where I told him that he was a senior and Marlay was a freshman and to go out and take control of the match and he did," Stock said.
The wins didn't stop there for Cook, though. Later that night in the semifinals against Kirksville's Logan Summers, who Cook had beaten at home in a tough match 5-3, the two squared off again in a tight match. And just like the first match, the duo battled back and forth to a 0-0 tie in the first period. Meanwhile, in the second period, Summers scored a quick escape to go up 1-0. Then, after Cook picked up a takedown to make it 2-1, Summers answered again with an escape to tie the match at 2-all. That's how the score remained until the overtime period when Cook picked up a takedown and the 4-2 victory.
Stock said it was a nailbiter against Summers.
"I knew we were going to have a tough match with him," Stock said. "We won 5-3 on Senior Night. We knew it was going to be that type of match again and that the championship match was going to be the same exact kind of match."
Page 2 of 3 - With time to savor the moment with three wins in three matches, Cook knew the opportunity was there in the championship match against Kearney. Having lost to Kearney the weekend before in the championship in the district tournament 4-3, Cook came out Saturday in the title match with a quick takedown to go up 2-0.
Unfortunately for Cook, he never led again in the match as Kearney answered with a takedown to tie the match at 2-all in the first period. Meanwhile, after Kearney picked up two more points in the second period on a penalty point and an escape to make it 4-2, Cook came back with a takedown in the third period with one minute left to knot the match at 4-4. But just like last weekend at Clinton, Kearney scored the winning point on an escape.
Stock said the game plan was to wrestle Kearney on his feet. "That's been our strong point all season," Stock said. "I thought we could have been a little more aggressive in the third period but other than that I thought we wrestled a great match. I thought we were aggressive enough to earn a stall call a little quicker and maybe another one too but it just didn't end up that way."
While accumulating over 100 wins on the season, Cook said afterwards that it's definitely a career to hang your hat on.
"To wrestle all four years, letter, get over 100 career wins and qualify for state twice was just a hell of a run," commented Cook. "I gave it my all and had a fun time doing it. After last year as one of the top wrestlers at 220 and coming away with nothing I felt like there was something that I needed to do. I wanted to come out and prove myself so that's what I did this year. I came out and wrestled my hardest, got to the finals and wrestled a damn good match against a tough opponent and just gave it my all."
Cook said seeing the Boonville fans cheering him on after the match was also breathtaking.
"The way they cheered for me as if I won even though I lost it made me feel a lot better," Cook said.
As for Broyhill, the junior grappler also opened the state tournament with a win against a former opponent by beating Mexico's Samuel Fayad 7-2. Meanwhile, after losing to Odessa's Evan Young 7-3 in the quarterfinals, Broyhill came back with a major decision over Dexter's Dylan Bazarian by a score of 10-0 in the second-round wrestlebacks. Unfortunately for Broyhill, that was also his last win as Cameron's Marshall Colson won by a fall in the third-round wrestlebacks in 3:24.
Broyhill closed out the season at 36-11 overall.
"Andrew had a good run," Stock said. "I think the nerves probably had him a little bit at first and he fought through that. But he got over it and then he came back and looked flat I thought in his last match. I talked to Andrew after the match and told him that I need a lot of leadership from him next season."
Page 3 of 3 - With only two wrestlers, Boonville also finished 22nd in the final-team standings in Class 2 with 26 points.
The North Central Missouri Conference also had a good showing, with Fulton placing second in Class 2 with 113 points. Kirksville finished fifth with 94.5 points, Mexico 13th with 50 points and Moberly 14th with 48 points.
In Class 3, Hannibal placed eighth overall with 64 points.
Team champions were also crowned over the weekend, with Park Hill winning Class 4 with 156.5 points. Kearney and Neosho tied for the team title in Class 3 with 152 points. Oak Grove won going away in Class 2 with 172 points while Whitfield captured the title in Class 1 with 126 points.