Finishes the season at 49-1 overall
After winning his first ever state title Saturday in the 152 pound weight class at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Boonville’sBrant Whitaker described the feat in one word: amazing.
As the first state champion for Boonville since Jon Carr in 2006, Whitaker had reason to be happy for his accomplishment while finishing the season at 49-1 overall-which also goes down for most wins in a single season and best overall record as a sophomore at Boonville High School.
“I was like man this is awesome,” Whitaker said after winning the title. “Everybody is really happy and I’m happy. It’s a great sense of accomplishment, especially after finishing as runner up last year. It was also cool to see all the people in the stands yelling for me.”
Of course it wasn’t easy as Whitaker won by a decision over Buffalo’s Ethan Smith 4-0.
At 97-6 in his two-year career at Boonville, Whitaker will no doubt have a bull’s-eye on his back in 2019-20. But to get to the finals on Saturday night, Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Christian Stock said Whitaker definitely had the toughest side of the bracket.
“In my opinion and not taking anything away from the Buffalo kid but I think having Bradley and Malizza on the same side was definitely was definitely tougher,” Stock said. This is my 20th year of coaching-12 as a head coach-and to have a first state champion is pretty special. Last year he left here and in our opinion we thought he had that match in the state finals and I always talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth. It gave Brant something to work for all season long and without a doubt I saw that in him this year.
“He had determination about him in every match he wrestled. Just flat out getting after it. He beat a couple of really top quality kids at the Hickman Tournament and kind of set the pace for what the end of the year I thought was going to be like. He came in and really controlled everybody that he wrestled. He didn’t have big numbers in the matches but it doesn’t matter, he dominated everybody he wrestled the last couple of days.”
With a bloody nose and scrapes and bruises all over his face, Whitaker began this so called journey Thursday morning with a first period pin against Drew Spire of Maryville in 1:36. Meanwhile, in the quarterfinals on Friday, Whitaker won by a 4-1 decision against Luke Malizza of Odessa.
Whitaker’s semifinal match would also be a decision as the sophomore grappler took down Monett’s Gunnar Bradley by a score of 6-2.
Whitaker said Bradley was good and he knew that going into the match. “I knew I had to go out there and wrestle hard,” Whitaker said.
Stock said Monett’s coaches had a good defense against Whitaker. “They came out and were prepared and did their work for us, but Brant still did a great job of riding him out and getting a shot in and scoring off of that,” Stock said. “He prepped well mentally and he never really lost his focus in any of the matches.”
Of course Whitaker would have to wait 24 hours to wrestle Buffalo’s Ethan Smith for the title at 152. Coming in at 51-2 on the season, Smith also won his first-three matches with ease with a technical fall in the first round, pin in the quarters and a 9-4 decision in the semifinals against Moberly’s Tristan Morris.
With a total of 102 wins combined by both Whitaker and Smith, it came as no surprise that the first period ended in a 0-0 tie. However, in the second period, Whitaker scored two points for a reversal with 46 seconds left to go up by a score of 2-0. Then, after several stops in the match due to a bloody nose by Whitaker, the sophomore grappler fought off several scrambles by Smith in the final minute to pick up a takedown for a 4-0 victory.
“It was an aggressive match,” Whitaker said. “I think I took most of the shots and then toward the end I knew he was going to come after me with everything he had. I knew if I wrestled tight I would win and that if it was a 4-0 match it was going to be in my favor.”
Stock said he was a little surprised after finishing the first period at 0-0 that Smith wouldn’t take down.
“I figured he would have taken down when they had the chance and they deferred,” Stock said. “We got the reverse and then in the third period they chose neutral so that told me that No. 1 they felt like they could beat us on our feet with a shot or that they were going to try and throw us to beat us. After watching what they did, they were definitely going for the throw to try to get his feet to back and get a nearfall and finish it that way.”