Boonville wrestling team looks to improve on last year's record
The Boonville Pirates wrestling team will find out soon enough where they stand after Tuesday night’s season opener against No. 1 ranked Odessa and the Fatima Comets.
After finishing 7-15 overall and 3-6 in the Tri-County Conference in 2019-20, Boonville second year coach Justin Hahn said he is excited about the upcoming season.
And so he should. With 25 wrestlers suited up for the 2020-21 season, the Pirates will return seven starters on the boys side and one returning starter for the girls. Boonville will also have eight returning letterwinners this season.
“I think we have a good group of returners and a good size freshmen class,” Hahn said. “Although some of the freshmen lack experience, they are athletic and have the potential to be good. We are returning three state qualifiers and one wrestler that lost in the bubble match at districts. We look to be good at the heavier weights, though. I think we can improve on our place in the conference and overall record.”
In order for the Pirates to make a move in the TCC, Hahn said Boonville will first have to go through Osage. He said the Indians are returning several state qualifiers and medalists from last year. Other teams in the running, he said, will be Blair Oaks and Versailles.
Hahn said Blair Oaks is good in every sport and wrestling is no different. As for Versailles, he said the Tigers won the conference three times out of the last five and they always bring a full lineup.
“We had good duals with all the teams in our conference last year except Osage,” Hahn said. “We lost several duals by 6-9 points and that is only a match or two. I hope we can turn that around this year and be on the winning side of those close duals. California has added wrestling and will be added to our dual schedule. They will be lacking in experience but should have some good athletes. I could see us placing anywhere from third to sixth place in the conference. The key will be winning the close duals.”
Of course it will help with seven of the 14 weight classes filled by returning starters. Hahn said the key like usual is winning the matches they are supposed to win.
Boonville’s returning starters this season will be at 126, 138, 145, 170, 195, 220 and 285.
Hahn said the Pirates will have some young starters that are going to struggle but they will gain experience.
“Our veterans need to step up and win the matches they are supposed to win this season,” Hahn said. “Our strength this season will be having 12 spots filled on our dual team. This is the most we have had in a long time. We are also returning three state qualifiers at the end of our lineup. If we can keep matches close, we should be able to pull out team wins at the end of our lineup.”
Of course that’s not saying the Pirates will have their share of shortcomings this season. Hahn said the one notable weakness will be in lower weights and the youth. He said Boonville will be open at 113 and 120 this season.
“Again, we have some good youth athletes but they we be lacking in experience,” Hahn said. “This is our weakness, but it’s also our strength. Our youth will gain experience while we will be able to keep teams from moving guys around because we have spots filled. In the past, teams could move their best guy up to beat us because we did not have someone in that weight class.”
As for the goals this season, Hahn said it’s to improve on everything from the conference finish to the amount of state qualifiers they have. Hahn said he wants to see the kids wrestle full matches and never quit.
“My goal every year is to make thee kids love the sport,” Hahn said. “When they love the sport, they will want to be great. Our motto this season is to be the nicest kids in town off the mat and the meanest kids on the mat. We want to score points and wrestle exciting matches.”
As for the Boonville Lady Pirates wrestling team, Hahn said the girl’s team will be shorthanded with only five out this season. He said the good news is that four are juniors and will be back next year.
However, without a full lineup, Hahn said Boonville will not win many duals but the girls will gain experience and hopefully they can get some to state.
“The goal for the girl’s team is to make them love it and keep them out for the team,” Hahn said. “The middle school has a good core of girls and hopefully we can start to build up the numbers for girls wrestling.”
As for the Pirates wrestling team, Hahn will look to continue the tradition of qualifying wrestlers to the state tournament.
With all three state qualifiers returning from last year, Hahn will count on seniors Dustyn Taylor (195) and Gaige Offineer (285) and junior Peyton Hahn (220) to lead the team again this season.
While finishing with a record of 19-28 last year, Hahn said Taylor will be an anchor at the end of the lineup, which should be tough.
As for Hahn, the junior grappler finished third last year at state and was first team all-conference for the Pirates. While finishing with a record of 43-5 last year, Hahn said Peyton will be a leader on the team this year and a role model for the freshman.
Offineer also returns after earning all-conference honors in 2019-20. While finishing the season at 30-18 overall, Hahn said Offineer will be a leader and the rock at the end of the lineup at heavyweight.
Seniors Eric Bundy (138) and Brayden McFarland (145), junior Travis Dell and sophomore Caleb Martin (126) also return with experience this season for Boonville.
Bundy finished 13-22 last season for the Pirates and looks to improve on that this season. Hahn said Bundy is strong enough to wrestle with anybody in the state. “I need to prepare him to be able to win the tight matches that go all three periods,” Hahn said.
McFarland will also look to improve on his record from last year after finishing 16-24 overall. Hahn said McFarland has worked hard all summer and is looking to make an impact for the team. “Brayden is one of our leaders in the room,” Hahn said. “I expect good things from him this year.”
The same could be said for Dell, who finished 26-16 last year. While earning all-conference honors last year, Hahn said he also looks for Dell to improve this season. Hahn said Dell is currently ranked fourth in the state by rank wrestler.
As for Martin, who was 13-24 last year, Hahn said Caleb has put in a lot of work over the summer and thinks people will see that on the mat this season.
Other wrestlers making their way on the mat this season for Boonville are Hayden Mendez at 106, Will Stock at 132, Chase Amos at 132, Xavier Flippin at 152, Tyson White at 160 and Ryder Comegys at 182.
Hahn said Mendez took the year off last year but will bring some experience to the weight class. “I think this will help him in a weight that is usually filled with freshman,” Hahn said.
As for Stock, Hahn said Will has the potential to be a great wrestlers. They key, he said, will be to get him experience and keep him out for the sport.
Amos is a good athlete as well that has taken the last two years off from wrestling. Hahn said Chase will be battling with Will for the starting spot. “Chase has a lot of potential, I need to get Chase varsity experience and he will be a kid you need to watch in the near future,” Hahn said.
The future is also bring for Flippin, another talented freshman wrestler. Hahn said Flippin was a state qualifier for the kids club last season. “I expect good things from Xavier the next four years,” Hahn said.
White is also no stranger to Hahn. Hahn said he coached White when he was in the youth club. “Tyson will be bumping up and filling the 160 pound weight class for us,” Hahn said. “Tyson is tough on top and I look for him to gain experience in the varsity lineup.”
As for Comegys, another experienced wrestler in the youth program, Hahn said Ryder is a hard worker and will gain experience as the season goes on in a weight class usually filled by seniors.
For the Boonville girls wrestling team, Hahn will look to Haylie Mendez in the 102 pound weight class, Tristen Offineer at 137, Jordan Birk at 143, Maddie Casey and Abby Cunningham at 174.
Hahn said Haylie is coming off an injury last year that didn’t allow her to finish the season.
Tristen was also injured last year and was unable to compete, but has worked hard this summer. As for Birk, Hahn said Jordan is a returning starter and was 4-7 last year so he looks for her to improve and be a senior leader. Maddie Casey is scrapper that just needs experience, Hahn said. Hahn said Casey has not certified her weight class yet. As for Cunningham, Hahn said Abby is a new addition to the team and is a hard worker and expects good things from her.
As for Tuesday’s triangular, Hahn said the Pirates will not have their full lineup because of quarantine and weight cuts. He said some of the best will not be in the lineup. “With that being said, I want to see the kids come out and wrestle hard,” Hahn said. “I have told the kids that these are the kind of matches you want and that they will prepare you for districts and state. I am hoping to have our full lineup against Warrensburg on December 10 for Senior Night. Most of our team will be eligible to wrestle their intended weight class that night.”