Depth of Hannibal lineup shows as Pirates navigate wrestlebacks to win state medals

CS2_7285 - Creech 5th

Hannibal senior Reign Creech finished fifth at 120 pounds in the Class 3 state tournament Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. | Photo courtesy Lisa Rigdon, Cheap Seats Photography

COLUMBIA, Mo. — To win the Class 3 state championship, the Hannibal wrestling team needed more than its three individual titleists to separate itself from the field.

That’s where the depth in the Pirates’ lineup paid off.

Senior Koen Ramage finished second at 157 pounds and four others navigated the wrestlebacks to reach the podium and earn state medals, giving the Pirates the boost necessary to score 156.5 points and beat Hillsboro by more than 20 points Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

“A truly historic year for Hannibal wrestling,” Hannibal coach Jake Borgmeyer said. “We have a rich history. For them to do it and separate themselves within this program, that’s incredible.”

Ramage saved his best for last in his 8-6 semifinal victory over Carl Junction senior Dexter Merrell. Trailing 6-4 in the third period, Ramage scored a reversal with 14 seconds remaining to force sudden victory. Ramage scored a takedown 13 seconds into the extra period to earn his spot in the title match.

Facing Smithville’s Alex Hutchcraft in the championship, Ramage trailed 2-0 going to the second period when Hutchraft used an escape, a takedown and a three-point nearfall to take complete control. He finished off a 10-0 major decision with a two-point nearfall in the third period.

The other medalists included senior Ryan Ross taking fourth at 285 pounds, sophomore Drake Brinkley taking fourth at 138, Reign Creech finishing fifth at 120 and sophomore Korbin Howe ended up sixth at 126.

Ross didn’t allow semifinal heartbreak to cause a tailspin.

Tied at 1 with Capital City junior Reyce Turner in the third period, Ross was taken down with eight seconds remaining to suffer a 3-1 loss. He came back in the consolation semifinals to overwhelm Pacific senior Nathaniel Knaff, turning a takedown and a two-point nearfall into a 59-second pin.

In the third-place match, neither Ross nor McDonald County senior Jayce Hitt scored in the first two periods, with Hitt riding Ross the entire two minutes of the second period. Hitt chose the bottom position to start the third period and escaped in 11 seconds. Ross couldn’t get Hitt off his feet thereafter, suffering a 1-0 loss.

The all-state football lineman finished his senior season with a 43-13 record.

In the blood round, Brinkley held off Carl Junction senior Brenden Berry for an 8-7 lead. A reversal and a three-point nearfall at the start of the third period put Brinkley up 8-2, but Berry scored a reversal and a three-point nearfall in the final 30 seconds to narrow the gap to one point.

Facing Marshfield’s MJ Gritts in the consolation semifinals, Brinkley used a third-period takedown to earn a 4-3 victory. In the third-place match, Whitfield junior Caleb Carter scored a takedown late in the first period and never relinquished the lead. Brinkley trailed 3-0 in the third period before getting an escape from the bottom position, but he couldn’t score the final 1:45 and suffered a 3-1 loss.

He ended the season with a 39-15 record and his first state medal.

Creech fell into the fifth-place match after suffering back-to-back losses. In the semifinals, he dropped a 6-1 decision to Hillsboro sophomore Carter Wallis, allowing a takedown and a three-point nearfall in the closing 15 seconds. In the consolation semifinals, Creech lost 6-3 to North Point freshman Brody Kell, giving up a takedown and two escapes over the final two periods.

In the fifth-place match, facing Carl Junction senior Sam Melton, Creech opened the second period in the bottom position and scored a reversal to build a 2-0 lead. Melton chose to start the third period in the neutral position, and Creech took him down with seven seconds remaining to finish off a 4-0 victory.

Creech finished the season with a 45-8 record and his third state medal. He took third at 113 pounds as a junior and fourth as a sophomore at 106.

Howe won his blood round match with a 9-5 victory over Webster Groves senior Bradley Holder, scoring five second-period points and cementing the victory with a third-period takedown. In the consolation semifinals, Howe suffered a 4-2 loss to Warrenton senior Jeremiah Kassing as he was taken down with 28 seconds remaining in the third period.

In the fifth-place match, Howe trailed Fort Zumwalt South senior Zach Tihen 3-0 in the third period before scoring a takedown with nine seconds left, but he couldn’t get any back points as he suffered a 3-2 setback.

Howe finished his season with a 37-12 record.

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