Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Christian Stock said at this point in the season there are no big words to use anymore for the four wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament.
After finishing in the top four in their respective weight classes last week at the Class 2 District 2 Tournament in Marshall, Stock was ecstatic for the wrestlers who qualified but also disappointed for the five who had their seasons cut short.
Nonetheless, the Boonville Pirates wrestling team will send four wrestlers on to the state tournament on Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia starting at 9 a.m.
“This is the second time in my career as head coach that we have qualified that many,” Stock said. “I love to see the guys get the rewards at the end of the year, but I also want them to keep wrestling. I don’t want them to be happy with just qualifying. They have to want more.”
The Pirate wrestlers were definitely well rounded on Saturday with one first, one second, one third and one fourth place finisher. Three of the four wrestlers also return to the state tournament from last year, with the only exception being freshman Peyton Hahn in the 195 pound weight class.
Hahn wound up finishing fourth in his weight class last weekend at districts. Brant Whitaker, a sophomore, placed first in the 152 pound weight class while Dalton Williams, a senior, finished second at 285. Senior Charlie Pumel, meanwhile, finished third overall in the 160 pound weight class.
Stock said it always helps to have been there before. “There is some emotions that you are going to have the first time you are there that just can’t be equaled by anything else they have experienced,” Stock said. “Having been there before allows you to focus on what you have to do.”
Along with focusing on the task at hand, Stock said the weather hasn’t exactly been favorable for practicing the last couple of weeks. However, he said practices have been changing all season long in preparation for this week.
“I prep each wrestler for state competition,” Stock said. “We don’t go as long for practice, and the focus of practice is different than the first day of practice. The hay is in the barn. I can’t do much to change how they wrestle or teach anything new in this time, so we wrestle the same way we have all season.”
Whitaker, who was runner up last year in the 145 pound weight class as a freshman, will face Maryville’s Drew Spire (28-16) in the first round on Thursday. At 45-1 on the season, Whitaker is also the team leader in wins currently with 45, falls at 32, major decisions with two, takedowns with 43 and three point nearfalls with 14. He also ranks second in decisions with three and two point nearfalls with two, and third in reversals with eight.
“Brant has had a great year and I am looking for him to continue that at state,” Stock said. “He is hungry for the No. 1 spot after being the runner up last season.”
Pumel is also returning to the state tournament. A three-time state qualifier, Pumel (36-10) will face Miller Academy’s Isaiah Strong, 20-10, in the opening round. Like Whitaker, Pumel leads in several categories currently for Boonville with 26 escapes and 10 two point nearfalls. He also ranks second in wins with 36, second in falls with 26, second in decisions with three, second in reversals with 10 and second in three point nearfalls with eight.
“Charlie is hungry for a medal as well,” Stock said. “He has had a good season and I want him to finish with hardware.”
For Hahn, it’s all about living in the moment as a freshman making his first trip to the state tournament. Although Hahn is no stranger to the state tournament in the kids club, Stock said he knows Peyton will wrestle well no matter what. “Peyton is wrestling very well right now,” Stock said. “He is a pretty even keel guy and doesn’t let the stress get to him.”
At 32-15 on the season, Hahn will wrestle Dexter’s Jett Featherston, 22-5, in the first round on Thursday.
For the season, Hahn currently ranks first in decisions with five and reversals with 11. He is also second on the team in major decisions with one, takedowns with 32 and escapes with 18.
As for Williams, he was that close to winning a district title last weekend against Moberly’s Tyler Nickerson while leading 1-0 going into the final period. Williams wound up losing 2-1 against Nickerson but may have pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament in the semifinal round after knocking off the No. 1 seed from Mexico.
Williams, at 29-16 on the season, will wrestle Ste. Genevieve’s Clayton Vaughn, 35-15, in the opening round on Thursday.
“Dalton is really turning it on again at the end of the season,” Stock said. “He did this last season as well. It would be awesome to see him as a senior medal.”
For the season, Williams is currently second on the team in major decisions with one, third in falls with 18 and reversals with eight and fourth in wins with 29, takedowns with 29 and escapes with 16.