If you look at the final product, the Boonville Pirates wrestling team may have exceeded its expectations for the 2018-19 season.
While finishing 10-13 overall and 2-4 in the Tri-County Conference this past season, the Pirate wrestlers also had four state qualifiers and two state medalists under head coach Christian Stock.
“Honestly, this was my best season as a head coach,” Stock said. “We were competitive as a team in duals, which is something that we have not been in past years. Part of that was because we had 12 wrestlers in the varsity lineup. I qualified four to state for the second year in a row as head coach, which is the most I have ever qualified as a head coach. I also got my first state champion. I’ve had several runners up as a head coach and as an assistant. I think we came become more competitive in the conference as time goes on. We had a large number of young wrestlers in the lineup who will get better with time.”
Although the Pirate wrestlers finished in a three-way tie for fourth place with Southern Boone and Eldon in the Tri-County Conference, Stock said he felt like the TCC is a very competitive conference.
Versailles won the league title this season at 6-0 while Blair Oaks finished second at 5-1, Osage third at 4-2, Boonville, Southern Boone and Eldon at 2-4 and Hallsville seventh at 0-6.
The Boonville Pirates wrestling team also had three members recently selected to the all-conference team in Brant Whitaker at 152,  Travis Dell at 170 and Dalton Williams at 285. Whitaker was a first team selection while Dell and Williams were both second team picks.
“You see a mix of Class 1 and 2 teams in the conference, which I think is good,” Stock said. “It is hard to compare a Class 2-3 conference to a Class 1-2. Again, I think that the conference is competitive and that is represented by the state placements of teams and wrestlers by the conference teams in the state tournament. I think we can become more competitive in the conference as time goes on. We had a large number of young wrestlers in the lineup who will get better with time.”
In all, the Tri-County Conference had 26 state qualifiers, 14 state medalists and three state champions. Six of the seven teams that qualified wrestlers to state also placed in the top 20 in either Class 1 of Class 2. California currently does not field a wrestling team.
Stock said this season was a season of first in many ways.
“It was a great ride,” Stock said. “I think it’s also a chance for the team to continue the upward swing. We have a solid group of wrestlers returning next year. We had a ton of success this season at state and had all of the kids in the bubble round or semifinals on Friday night. That is a first for me as well. If we get one more win, we place in the top 15 at state. That has been a long time for that as well.”
Having only three open weight classes this past season was also advantageous for the Pirates. Instead of giving up 30-36 points per match, Boonville only surrendered 18 or fewer points this season.
Stock said that was a big difference and advantage for the Pirates.
“It allowed us to have some success at duals where we have not in past seasons,” Stock said. “I think it allows the team to have more confidence going into the dual setting and be more successful. I also think the numbers we have returning for next season will allow us to be a strong team next year.”
With the Pirates stacked in the heavier weight classes this season from 152-285, Boonville could see mixture of experience returning in the lighter weight classes as well in 2019-20.
Stock said he is not sure that the lighter weight classes will be better than the heavier weight classes next year.
“We will have another year of experience at those lower weight classes,” Stock said. “We will also return some good wrestlers at the top with Travis Dell, Peyton Hahn and Dakota Rapp on the upper end so it will be good next season as well. With every year, those guys gain a ton of experience. I think we are on an uphill climb and will continue to get better. Our numbers have come up and I think that will continue and help the program as well. I see a bright future for Pirate wrestling.
“I see us having a stronger year next year than this year to be honest. That is not taking anything away from the four seniors but I feel like the guys that pushed them this entire season will step in and have success as well. We really have some good potential for a great season next year.”
Of course in order to have a great season in 2019-20, Stock said the wrestlers need to keep pushing like they have the last couple of years. He said he is not sure what changes he will make other than wanting to add another assistant coach so that the younger guys would get a chance to wrestle more at JV and Rookie Tournaments.
“We will miss five opportunities where we don’t have the staff to cover another tournament for the younger guys,” Stock said.
As for the plans for the team this season, Stock said he will host open mats at least once a week and will also post camp information for the individual wrestlers so they know what they can attend.
“I encourage the wrestlers to pick up other sports,” Stock said. “It is important to be well rounded and do some other things.”
For the season, Whitaker led the Boonville Pirate wrestlers in about every category with 49 wins, 33 falls, two major decisions, six decisions (tie with Peyton Hahn), 48 takedowns, 12 reversals (tie with Hahn) and 14 three-point nearfalls. Charlie Pumel0o had a team-leading 31 escapes and 11 two-point nearfalls while Dell finished with one tech fall to lead the team.
Whitaker and Pumel also broke three records during the season. Whitaker’s 49 wins for the season goes down as a record for most wins in a single season and best overall record as a sophomore at Boonville High School.  Pumel, meanwhile, broke a record held for 18 years by Morgan Oswald for most wins in a career. Oswald had 138 wins in his career, which he set in 2000, while Pumel finished his career with 141 wins.