Pirates’ pursuit of state wrestling championship off to solid start with eight grapplers still alive

Hannibal Pirates

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The title pursuit is in full swing.

The Hannibal wrestling team had six grapplers each win twice Thursday and reach the semifinal round of the Class 3 state tournament, while two others rebounded from losses to remain alive in the wrestlebacks to give the Pirates a shot at the team title.

Hannibal finished the first day in first place with 70 points, while Carl Junction is in second with 61.5 points. Carl Junction has five wrestlers alive in the semifinals.

The Pirates’ four returning state medalists — sophomore Austin Brown at 113 pounds, senior Reign Creech at 120, senior Tristan Essig at 132 and senior Cody Culp at 144 — led the brigade to the semifinals.

Brown opened by sticking Capital City’s Austin Feely, scoring a takedown and a pair of two-point nearfalls in the first period and turning an escape to start the second period into a takedown and a pin in 3:19. In the quarterfinals, Brown used a first-period takedown to pin McDonald County’s Eberson Perez in 1:36.

Brown (46-3) will face Winnetonka sophomore Tyrre Broom in the semifinals.

Creech needed extra time to earn his semifinal spot. After pinning Vianney’s Logan Loporto in 2:42 in the opening round, Creech and Platte County’s Caden Hulett struggled for control in the quarterfinals. Creech used a reversal to start the second period to take the lead, but Hulett escaped to make it 2-1 and then escaped from the bottom position to start the third period.

Tied at 2 going to overtime, Creech scored a takedown and pin in 6:33 to advance. Creech (44-6) will face Hillsboro sophomore Carter Wallis (36-5) in the semifinals.

Essig opened with a first-period pin of Platte County’s Grant Fadler, turning a takedown 11 seconds into the match into a pin in 1:35. In the quarterfinals, Essig pinned Farmington senior Zach Dennis in 1:38, using a takedown 18 seconds into the match to take control.

Essig (47-1) will face Fort Zumwalt South senior Cameron Clark (41-9) in the semifinals.

One of only five undefeated wrestlers in the statewide Class 3A field, Culp navigated the first two rounds while giving up just one point. He led Capital City junior Levi Casey 9-0 before recording a pin in 2:56 in the opening round. Then, Culp scored a 16-1 technical fall over Jefferson City’s Deegan Mitchell. Culp recorded four nearfalls in the match.

Culp (31-0) will face Marshfield junior Tanner Davidson (46-7) in the semifinals.

Two other seniors — Koen Ramage at 157 pounds and Ryan Ross at 285 — also reached the semifinals.

Ramage finished off an 11-1 major decision over Farmington’s Lane Weiss in the opening round with two takedowns and a three-point nearfall as part of a seven-point third period. In the quarterfinals, he beat Platte County’s Shane Leary 3-1, riding Leary the entire third period and getting a two-point nearfall.

Ramage (26-4) will face Carl Junction senior Dexter Merrell (37-9) in the semifinals.

Ross scored a pair of pins to earn his semifinal spot. In the opening round, Ross led Raytown South’s Clevon Woodard 2-1 going to the second period with Woodard choosing to start on the bottom. Ross got him to his back and finished the pin in 3:17.

In the quarterfinals, Ross and Hillsboro sophomore Griffin Morris went to the third period scoreless. Ross started the period on the bottom, escaped, scored a takedown and pinned Morris with 18 seconds remaining in the match.

Ross (42-11) will face Capital City junior Reyce Turner (46-4) in the semifinals. 

Two Pirates suffered losses but remained alive in the consolation bracket.

Sophomore Korbin Howe opened with an 8-6 victory over Washington’s Couper Deckard at 126 pounds, scoring a takedown and a three-point nearfall in the second period to build an insurmountable lead. In the quarterfinals, Farmington junior Presley Johnson beat Howe 8-3, scoring a takedown in each period.

Howe (36-10) rebounded with a 4-3 victory over Pacific junior Timothy Link. He will face Webster Groves’ Bradley Holder (37-12) in Saturday morning’s blood round.

Sophomore Drake Brinkley responded to an opening-round loss with a vengeance. After losing 5-2 to DeSoto senior Drake Peeler at 138 pounds, Brinkley scored a 15-0 technical fall over Capital City’s Jeremiah Austin, starting off with a takedown and a pair of three-point nearfalls in the first period. He then scored an 11-3 major decision over Rolla’s Jack Mrozowicz.

Brinkley (37-14) will face Carl Junction senior Brenden Berry (32-14) in the blood round.

Hannibal had two wrestlers eliminated Friday.

At 106 pounds, sophomore Chase Youngwirth lost his first two matches, getting pinned by Branson’s Rysen Isringhausen in 37 seconds and Kearney’s Phoenix Shelton in 3:36.

At 150 pounds, senior Peyton Elliot suffered a pair of losses to end his season with a 25-12 record. He was pinned in 50 seconds by Farmington’s Kyeler Aders and lost a 4-3 decision to Platte County’s Evan MacCuish.

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