Inexperience has a way of sometimes working against a young team.
Such was the case this past season for the Boonville Pirates wrestling team who had only one senior on a team of 14.
Although the Pirate wrestlers struggled to fill out a full lineup night in and night out for the 2017-18 season, they still managed to finish 4-18 overall. However in the NCMC, Boonville struggled in what turned out to be one of the best conferences in the state in Class 2 by finishing 0-6.
The good news is that 10 wrestlers return with varsity experience for the Pirates in 2018-19.
“We started the season with what I thought was a lineup with maybe two opens at the most,” said Boonville wrestling coach Christian Stock. “With people not finishing the season for various reasons and some people not moving down in weight classes, it just never happened. The focus of our season had to become individual accomplishments. I know this sounds like a broken record from some of the past seasons but I have to find a way to keep the guys I have interested in what we are doing and this is the only way to accomplish that. We were really young or inexperienced at many of the weights this season as well. Each of these wrestlers got better this season.”
Although the Pirate wrestlers fell short of finishing in the middle of the conference, they did produce three all-conference performers in Brant Whitaker at 145, Charlie Pumel at 152 and Gabe Rumbaoa at 220.
Those same three wrestlers, plus junior Dalton Williams also qualified for the state tournament with Whitaker and Rumbaoa both placing second in their respective weight classes.
Stock said qualifying four wrestlers to the state tournament was a first for him.
“I felt like we had a solid chance of three qualifying and anything over that would be a bonus,” Stock said. “Dalton Williams was our bonus. He had been getting better and better every week and he proved that at districts. Secondly, having two finalists as a head coach was another highlight. This was a personal best for me as well. I give the credit to Brant and Gabe, they wrestled the matches. I am just honored to have had two finalists as head coach.”
As for the conference season, Stock said the NCMC was very strong, especially in Class 2.
Mexico captured the league title at 6-0 while Moberly finished second at 5-1, Kirksville third at 4-2, Hannibal fourth at 3-3, Marshall fifth at 2-4, Fulton sixth at 1-5 and Boonville seventh at 0-6.
The NCMC also had five teams in the top 16 in Class 2, with Mexico winning the title. Fulton finished eighth overall, followed by Moberly in 10th place, Boonville 14th place and Kirksville in 16th place. Meanwhile, in Class 3, Hannibal finished 29th overall while Marshall placed 33rd.
“This is and will continue to be a very strong conference for wrestling,” Stock said. “I was disappointed by not winning a single dual in the conference, but we really struggled with opens and injuries all season long and could not put it together. The closest we came was in the triangular with Fulton and Fatima to begin the season.”
Stock said last place is not a place anyone wants to be but he thought the team competed well. He said the dual score did not show it but again the team was focused on head to head.
“I think individually I was pleased for the most part,” Stock said. “We had two first team all-conference wrestlers and one second team wrestler so that’s not bad for a team that wrestled with 9-10 wrestlers in most of the duals.”
While the wins were few and in between this season, Stock said the match at Southern Boone was probably the best match of the season for the Pirates. After losing to Southern Boone 60-17 in the Spartan Dual in Moberly, Stock said the score was tied at 36-all at their place but the Pirates won the match on a tiebreaker because they had more falls than Southern Boone.
Stock also commented on the four wrestlers qualifying for state. He said it was a good weekend to be a Pirate.
“I knew that both finalists had good draws for the weekend,” Stock said. “Brant’s first match was key to his success for the weekend. He had to win that match and I felt we had a good road to the finals. Gabe had a great draw from the start. I know that neither one of them wanted to end the season with a loss but there are only three wrestlers in the state that don’t: first place, third place and sixth place. Charlie and Dalton both had tough draws. Again, that goes back to coming out in third or fourth from districts.”
While the Pirate wrestlers were more of a tournament team than dual team this past season, Stock said again it goes back to lack of numbers on top of youth and inexperience. He said he never felt the Pirates had setbacks except for the Moberly Dual Tournament.
“Again for the same reasons that duals were not good for us,” Stock said. “I felt like even with our small numbers we competed very well in the tournaments. We always had multiple place finishers. Honestly, I can’t pinpoint why our numbers are down. I do know that the sport of wrestling is down 30,000 wrestlers nationwide at the high school level. The struggles we are having are starting to show in other schools as well. I know there were fewer wrestlers at the district tournament than I have ever seen in my 18 years of coaching. It was a topic of discussion at every tournament this season. I think it takes a special type of person to walk out on that mat, go toe to tie with another, and know that only one walks off a winner. I have said that for years. It is hard to say but our numbers were down at the junior high level as well.”
With 11 wrestlers returning next season, Stock said the Pirates will be young again but the guys are gaining experience with every match.
“I will be returning three state qualifiers, one state finalist, two first team all-conference wrestlers in this group as well,” Stock said.
As for the move from the NCMC to the Tri-County Conference next season, Stock said there will still be a conference title and honors. He said California is the only school that currently does not have wrestling.
“They are starting a junior high program next season,” Stock said. “We are supposed to meet in the near future to decide how we will decide conference champions and all-conference honors. We will wrestle every school in the conference that has wrestling. Our schedule will see some changes but what that is I am not sure yet because I am not sure what the conference current schedule is already.”
As for individual leaders this past season, freshman Brant Whitaker led the Pirates with most wins with 47, most falls with 31, most tech falls with seven, most major decisions with three, most takedowns with 66, most reversals with 29, most two-point nearfalls with 33 and most three-point nearfalls with 44.
Whitaker also broke the record for wins in a season with 47, which was previously held by Jon Carr in 2006, Kyle Cook in 2013 and Gabe Rumbaoa in 2017 with 43; best record for a ninth grader at 47-5, which was previously held by Turner in 1999 at 29-5; and most two-point nearfalls with 33, which was previously held by Ryan Pomajzl with 29.
Gabe Rumbaoa, meanwhile, led the team with decisions with four while Dalton Williams had the most escapes with 28. Rumbaoa also broke the career falls record with 90, which was held by Brett Morris with 82, and finished with 122 career wins.