The North Central Missouri Conference may have been the best conference from top to bottom in the state in Class 2 this season with five teams finishing in the top 16.
Although the Pirates finished seventh in the NCMC, they more than made up for it with two second place finishers at the state tournament in Columbia.
For their showing in the conference this past season, freshman Brant Whitaker and junior Charlie Pumel were both selected to the first team in the NCMC at the 145 and 152 pound weight classes, respectively. Senior Gabe Rumbaoa, meanwhile, was a second team selection at 220.
As for the final team standings, Mexico captured the league title at 6-0. Moberly finished second at 5-1, followed by Kirksville at 4-2, Hannibal at 3-3, Marshall at 2-4, Fulton at 1-5 and Boonville at 0-6.
Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Christian Stock said Mexico had a great season, which was capped off with not only a conference championship but also a state championship. “They had a solid team with one open in the weight classes,” Stock said. “They were solid from top to bottom.”
As for the conference as a whole, Stock said the NCMC was very strong, especially in Class 2. “All the teams finished in the top 16 of the state,” Stock said. “This is and will continue to be a very strong conference for wrestling. 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. When we came that close I thought we might catch them later in the season but never did.”
Whitaker definitely left his mark on the conference if not the state for the 2017-18 season by finishing 45-5 overall. He also led the team with 31 falls, seven tech falls, three major decisions, 66 takedowns, 29 reversals, 33 two-point nearfalls and 44 three-point nearfalls.
Stock said Whitaker put together a really solid season.
“I was very impressed with his performance this season,” Stock said. “As a freshman he really adapted well this season to the high school routine.  It is different than junior high or club wrestling.  Sometimes freshman struggle with adapting to how things are done.  You are wrestling wrestlers of the same weight but different age.  This can be a big adjustment for some wrestlers and I feel like Brant handled it well.  He leads several categories and has a bright future.”
Pumel also returns as a two-time state qualifier for the Pirates next season. Although Pumel missed part of the season due to a injury, the junior grappler still managed to put up some pretty good numbers while finishing 32-7 with 31 takedowns, 23 falls, 13 escapes, 11 reversals, eight three-point nearfalls and six two-point nearfalls.
Stock said Pumel wrestled a strong season even with a recovery from a knee injury that kept him out of practice and matches for nearly four weeks.
“Charlie was in a really tough weight class at districts and state this season,” Stock said. “This was Charlie’s second time qualifying for state.  We have to find a way to get him over the hump and get a medal next season. We have already talked about a couple of things. Next season I look for good things from him as a senior leader with state experience.”
As for Rumbaoa, he also missed some time during the season due to a knee injury but still finished second in the state with a record of 31-4 overall.
Rumbaoa also finished the season with 24 takedowns, 23 falls, nine three-point nearfalls, seven escapes, four major decisions and one reversal.
Stock said Rumbaoa suffered one loss this season in the conference and that was to Colton Gillespie of Kirksville.
“Gabe qualified for state the third time in his career and placed the highest of his career,” Stock said. “Gabe a had a really good season and also suffered a knee injury the first weekend of the season.  He did not get back in the circle until after Christmas break.  Gabe put together a great career as a three-time medalist at state and three time conference placer. He was a second team all-conference selection as a sophomore, first team as a junior and second team this season. State places were fifth as a freshman, third as a junior and second as a senior. He has really been a great leader as the sole senior.  It has been a honor to have coached him for four seasons.”