Boonville wrestlers improve two-fold during 2020-21 season

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville junior wrestler Peyton Hahn was one match away from advancing to the state championship last week in the 220 pound weight class at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence. Hahn’s only loss of the state tournament came against the eventual state champion from Cassville. Hahn finished the season with 29 wins and has already surpassed 100 wins in his career for the Pirates with another season to go.

After taking over on a full-time basis for the 2020-21 season, Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Justin Hahn knew he had some work to do to catch up with the other teams in the Tri-County Conference.

He was right. With almost all underclassmen filling out the lineup this season, the Pirates finished a disappointing 4-9 in duals and 3-4 in the TCC while the Lady Pirates closed out the 2020-21 campaign at 3-6-1 overall and 2-3 in the conference.

“The 2020-21 season was a very difficult season, but it was a blessing,” Hahn said. “This was my first year as the head coach and it was full of challenges. There were times in the summer and fall of 2020 that I didn’t think we were going to have a wrestling season. We dealt with quarantines and scheduling issues most of the season. 

“With all that against us I feel like the kids worked hard and did what we asked them to do. We had a good sized freshmen class with some promising young athletes in it. We fought injuries a lot with my upperclassmen but when they were in the lineup, they wrestled well.”

Of course it didn’t help that the Pirates were competing against some of the best teams in the area for a small conference. Nonetheless, Boonville battled night in and night out against the likes of Osage, Blair Oaks, Versailles and Hallsville.

Hahn said by beating Southern Boone, California and Eldon, the Pirates finished fifth overall in the TCC.

“I think we could have beaten Hallsville, but when we wrestled them several of our kids were injured and we did not have our full lineup,” Hahn said. “Blair Oaks, Osage and Versailles finished in a three-way tie for first in the conference. As for our girls, we had team wins against Blair Oaks and Osage but they don’t have a conference championship for the girls, yet.”

Despite the roller coaster season, the Pirates had several highlights. Hahn said the Pirates competed well in the Versailles and Marshall Tournaments, bringing home several medals in both. He said Boonville also had an exciting dual wins against Warrensburg and Eldon. “We had a sectional champ and a third place finisher at state,” Hahn said of the highlights.

As for the strengths of the team this past season. Hahn said looking back the Pirates had good leadership from the upperclassmen and also had a big freshmen class that wanted to get better. He said Boonville also had two returning senior state qualifiers in Dustyn Taylor and Gaige Offineer and one junior in Peyton Hahn, as well as junior Travis Dell and senior Brayden McFarland that were good leaders in the room. “We also had six freshmen in the starting lineup, which isn’t always a good thing, but with senior leadership I think the freshmen got better and have promising futures.”

As for the best dual of the season, Hahn said it was probably beating Warrensburg. He said it was the Pirates first dual win as a head coach and a team effort with several exciting matches all the way down to heavyweight.

“Our best tournament was probably Versailles,” Hahn said. “We didn’t have a full lineup, but still brought home several medals and had a respectable finish in the team race.”

All in all, Hahn said he felt the boys and girls wrestled well on the mat all season. He said they were able to get away from their opponents, worked hard in the top position and did a good job of scoring points in the top position. “We need to get better on our feet and score more points from the neutral position,” Hahn said. 

As for the 2021-22 season, Hahn said the Pirates  had six freshmen starters this season but looks at that as a good thing. He said if he gets them all back, they will have gained valuable experience and they will be assets to the lineup. 

“Freshman Xavier Flippin had a great freshman season and was a sectional qualifier,” Hahn said. “We have 10 returning letterwinners next year for the boys and four for the girls, which should bode well for us. With the guys and girls that we have coming back, we should win some duals, be competitive in tournaments and get some kids to state next year.”

Hahn said his goal for next season is to improve in every area from dual wins to conference place, and the number of state qualifiers. He said the team plans to work hard over the summer and will continue to recruit hard because the more kids they can get out, the better they will be.

For the season, junior wrestler Peyton Hahn led the Pirates in several categories with 29 wins, 40 takedowns, 17 falls, six decisions and two major decisions (tied with Xavier Flippin). He also had 120 team points and 131 match points. 

Hahn was also the only state placer for Boonville, finishing third in the 220 pound weight class.

Flippin also finished the season with 9 three-point nearfalls to lead the team. Eli Stock recorded 25 escapes, while Tyson White had 9 reversals and Chase Amos with 1 technical fall. 

For the Lady Pirates, Haylie Mendez had 42 team points and 8 wins, while Jordan Birk had 4 escapes and 2 decisions. Abigail Cunningham also had 13 match points and 2 falls.