With the state tournament all but in the rearview mirror, the Boonville Pirates wrestling team can now look back to the 2016-17 season and wonder what if.
Had the Pirate wrestlers been able to field a complete team this past season, could they have been a threat in the North Central Missouri Conference or dual meets for that matter.
The same question could be applied to tournaments with the Pirates fielding six maybe seven wrestlers out of 14 weight classes.
Nonetheless, the Pirate wrestlers closed out the season with a record of 3-10 overall and 0-6 in the NCMC under head coach Christian Stock.
Stock said if you look at it from a dual perspective the answer would have to be no if he felt like the Pirates had a good season. However, he said if you look at it from an individual standpoint the answer would have to be yes.
“We went to most of the varsity tournaments with six or less wrestlers for most of them,” Stock said. “The majority of them were 16 team tournaments and with only six or less scoring wrestlers, we placed in the top half of the team scores. Many of the other schools had 10 or more wrestlers on their teams. In those tournaments we rarely had a wrestler finish below fifth place.”
With the all-conference team just released last week, the Pirate wrestlers had one first team selections at 220 and three second team picks at 152, 182 and 285.
Stock said the NCMC was tough again this season. He said there was a little bit of a shakeup at the top with Mexico taking the top spot.
“I am not sure Fulton fell off that much,” Stock said. “I just think that Mexico was just that much better than everyone else. Kirksville is going through a rebounding period with their head coach in his third season. I was disappointed with our finish. The lineup just did not pan out the way I thought it might. We had more opens than I thought we would have and this was the reason for our struggle in the dual format. Our youth, inexperience, and lack of wrestlers at the lighter weight classes caused us to struggle in duals. Once we reached 152 in the dual we really took control of the match usually. In fact, the upper weights were where our strength was at.”
Stock said there is no rhyme or reason why the Pirates have been more experienced in the heavier weight classes versus the lighter weight classes. He said it’s just where the number of kids are right not.
“I am not real sure how we can fix this,” Stock said. “It is something I have discussed with the entire coaching staff. I guess we really need to recruit really tiny kids from the kid’s club and hope they continue to wrestle. Wrestling has become one of those sports that knowledge before high school is really needed. It is something we are trying to work on all the time. It is just one of those things that I am not sure you have a ton of control of.”
It could tougher next year for the Pirates in 2017-18. With only 19 wrestlers finishing out the roster this season, Stock will have to replace five graduating seniors in the lineup.
Stock, however, said he feels like there are some good kids in development returning.
“We do also have two returning state medalists against next season,” Stock said. “I think we have several young wrestlers coming up that will help us out as well in the future. The young wrestlers will be filling some big shoes, where the five seniors have left.”
Stock said the district assignment also plays a huge role in how the program stacks up. He said the districts on the west side of the state are without a doubt tougher than those in the east.
“If we headed back east again we might qualify more wrestlers but may not place any more than one or two,” Stock said. “The number of qualifiers is no representation of how good your wrestlers are. Moberly qualified nine wrestlers and only had one placer and one wrestler that went 2-2. Everyone else was 0-2 or 1-2. It is all about how you finish not just qualifying. I think our summer programs are good. Our off-season program is also good and getting better with the addition of a room that can be open year round at David Barton. Our kids program and junior high programs are solid so I am very happy with how we do at both of those levels.”
The good news is that of the three state qualifiers for Boonville, two return for the 2017-18 season. Charlie Pumel finished 2-2 at state in the 152 pound weight class while Gabe Rumbaoa returns after placing third at 220.
Stock said qualifying three for the state tournament was the highlight of the season. “This is the most that we have qualified in 5-6 years,” Stock said, “and the most that I have ever qualified as a head coach. Having a medalist and qualifier returning to the room to lead by example is also huge. They know the dedication and work needed to get there. I think the future looks bright. We had great leaders this year and they passed on that hard work ethic we need for the future.”
Stock said the match against Kirksville was also the one match that stood out this season in duals. He said not only was it Senior Night, each senior that had a match won.
“I thought it was a good way to send that group of hard workers off,” Stock said. “Even though we came up short on the scoreboard, I thought we wrestled solid matches all night.”
Pumel definitely showed his prowess on the mat for the Pirates while leading the team in five categories for tech falls with three, takedowns with 43, reversals with 33, two-point nearfalls with 19 and three-point nearfalls with 20. Pumel also tied for the team-high with Lucas Gerke with eight decisions while finishing second on the team behind Rumbaoa with 41 wins.
Rumbaoa, meanwhile, ranked first with 43 wins and falls with 34. Stock said Rumbaoa also broke two records and tied another. The 43 wins in a season tied former Boonville wrestlers Jon Carr and Kyle Cook. As for the two broken records, Rumbaoa finished the season with 34 pins in a season and 13 consecutive pins.
Keandre Anderson led the team with most escapes on the season with 38 while Wyatt Grizzle had the team-high in major decisions with three.