The St. James wrestling team had a very busy weekend with a dual against North County on Thursday, Nov. 30, before taking part in the Steve Leslie Invitational at Pleasant Hill on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2. The Tigers kicked things off by winning their dual against North County 42-33, before earning a fourth place team finish at Pleasant Hill thanks to two first place finishes, three second place finishes and a third place finish.
St. James got their weekend started with a very interesting dual against North County. After a couple of easy pins from Nick Wilson (182) and Cole Petty (195), the Tigers traded pins with North County at 220 and 285. Cort Petty wrestled his first match of the season at 220 and after escaping a pin and nearly getting a pin of his own on the reversal, was pinning in the second period by Mike Allison. Drake Ortiz then stepped in at heavyweight at got a pin over Briley Dickerson, despite having a little bit early trouble getting the heavier North County wrestler onto his back. Ortiz needed most of the second period, but he got the pin in 3:45.
Once things flipped over to the lightweights, St. James and North County again traded pins, as Kaylynn Crocker was pinned by Cody White at 106 with just 31 seconds left in the match. Tyler Dover came back and got the Tigers back in the win column with a pin of Mikayla Whatley at 113. After St. James was open at 120, Ty Lewis won a 10-5 decision over Chris Singleton, leading to a wild match at 132.
Logan Saxbury and Amos Littrell had a fantastic battle at 132, as both players just refused to take a pin. While both Littrell and Saxbury managed to get each other on their backs, both players managed to get reversal after reversal to keep the match alive, which led to a tie at 14 going into the third period. There was a bit of confusion after the second period though. Right off the bat, their was an issue determining who's turn it was to select the opening positions. While trying to settle that debate, teams realized there was a scoring issue, as the scoreboard had Saxbury leading 15-14. After a long discussion, the match was tied at 14 and the pair finally settled in for the final round. The third period was worth the wait, as Saxbury had his back against the all, down 17-16 as the clock was inching towards zero, but the sophomore wrestler was able to pull out one final reversal in the final seconds to win the match 18-17.
After a fantastic battle, Mikey Crocker seemed a little frustrated he had to sit and wait longer for his match and came out with a mean streak. He shoved North County's Ethan Thomas around like a rag doll before getting a pin in 1:32. Thomas Henderson followed him with a second period pin before another St. James open at 152. North County won the final two matches with Anthony Wilson beating Sage Gibson 13-11 and Cole Cresswell pinning Zach Woodson, but it wasn't enough for a comeback and the Tigers finished off a 42-33 win.
After a great night of wrestling on Thursday to get the juices flowing, St. James put on a show at Pleasant Hill. Lewis and Henderson both won their weight classes, with Crocker, Cole Petty and Ortiz earning second place finishes to help propel the Tigers to a fourth place finish as a team.
The first champion of the weekend was Lewis at 126. After two pins, a 9-4 win and a victory by forfeit from teammate Heather Pankey in pool play, Lewis was the top seed in the bracket. He started bracket play with a quick 41 second pin over South Callaway's Cooper Rieb, the senior got a third period pin on Kirksville's Gavin Robertson to earn a spot in the championship. Lewis wasn't able to keep the pin streak alive, but he did earn a 10-6 win over Parkview's Brayden Dame to take the top spot at 126.
After wrestling at 145 against North County, Henderson was able to make weight at his regular 138 for the tournament at Pleasant Hill. Henderson had to fight through a ton of matches in pool play, going undefeated with five pins and two wins by decision to earn the top seed in his pool. The senior went on to beat Cassville's Keaton Artherton to earn a spot in the championship at 138. He faced off against Chillicothe's Lavery Jones, who he'd defeated 8-2 in pool play, for the top spot, winning the match on a pin with just 18 seconds to spare.
Crocker was also able to make weight and slide down to his usual weight class of 132 after wrestling at 138 on Thursday. The senior pinned his way through pool play with none of his opponents making it out of the first round. His longest pool play match was 1:36, with the quickest ending in just 18 seconds. He then opened bracket play with a 47 second pin of Chillicothe's Colton Sewell, before being pinned by Shawnee Mission Northwest's Jerad Habben in the championship to finish in second place.
Cole Petty also swept his way through pool play, getting two pins, who major decisions and a win by medical forfeit to cruise through to bracket play. The senior then opened bracket play with a 47 second pin over William Chrisman's Elijah McFall, before beating Prairie View's Sam Chambers on a pin at the end of the second period in the semi-final. Petty faced off against Trenton Holloway from Summit Christian Academy in the championship, where he was pinned in the third period.
Ortiz had a similar road through pool play after shaving the last half of a pound he needed to wrestle at 220. The senior had four pins in pool play, but took a 6-4 loss to South Callaway's Brett Campbell. The two would face off again in the championship after Ortiz beat Kirksville's Colton Gillespie 2-1. Unfortunately for Ortiz, the rematch had the same result of losing by two points, this time 8-6, but he took home a second place finish.
Rounding out the top three finishes for St. James was Wilson at 182. Wilson went 4-1 in pool play with two pins and two wins by decision to earn the second seed in his pool. After losing to the eventual runner up, Kayde Burton from Chillicothe, Wilson beat Pleasant Hill's Ryan Edenbum by major decision 12-0 to claim third place.
Other finishes for St. James included a sixth place finish from Dover at 113, a sixth place finish from Heather Pankey at 126, a seventh place finish from Kaylynn Crocker at 106, a ninth place finish from Woodson at 170, 13th place finish by Zach Achterberg at 145 and a 15th place finish from Sage Gibson at 160.
St. James finished in fourth place as a team with 472 team points over the two day tournament. Kirksville took home the top spot with 530.5 team points. Chillicothe finished in second, Pleasant Hill took third and Prairie View rounded out the top five.
St. James will be off for a week before taking part in the Staley Duals on Saturday, Dec. 9.