The St. James wrestling team traveled to St. Genevieve for Districts on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9-10. The Tigers finished in second place as a team, while sending seven of their wrestlers to the State Tournament.
The Tigers came away with one individual District Champion over the weekend and that was Mikey Crocker at 132. Crocker cruised through the first tree rounds of the tournament with a pair of first period pins and a 15-0 tech fall. He faced St. Clair's Jason Landing for the District Championship, coming away with a 4-3 win.
"That was the best match that I've seen Mikey Crocker wrestle in the three years that I've been coaching here," said head coach Beau Moreland. "Jason Landing is a tough kid and he beat us earlier this year...We knew Mikey could beat him, Mikey knew Mikey could beat him and it was just whether or not when he walked out there in the District Championship if he got the job done and he wrestled his match and he did. He did a great job."
St. James was also in two other championship matches, the next being Cole Petty at 170. After a first round bye, Petty had a pair of pins, the second of which came in just 22 seconds. The Tiger senior wrestled Sullivan's Evan Shetley in the championship and three periods weren't enough to decide the winner. Shetley was able to get two points in the first overtime to come away with a 7-5 win, but Petty is still headed to State with a second place finish.
"(Cole) was up the whole time and that kid fought back and Cole let him come back," said coach Moreland of Petty's championship match. "It was tough one and I know it was tough for Cole. That's the one that hopefully we can grow from in this short amount of time we have this week going into State."
The final championship match came from Drake Ortiz at 220. Ortiz cruised through the first three rounds with three straight first period pins. That set up a championship against Tyler Hale from St. Genevieve, who was fresh off an upset of St. Clair's previously undefeated Josh Richards. The match came down to one point and Hale was able to finish another upset by beating Ortiz 6-5.
"You've got that outlier, this St. Genevieve kid and he wants to be a District Champion. He wants to go out and and beat Richards, he wants go go out and beat Drake Ortiz and he did," said coach Moreland. "That's what it came down to."
Ty Lewis also qualified for St. James with a fourth place finish at 126. After a first round bye, Lewis pulled out an 8-7 win, before falling to Dexter's Travis Waldner 8-0 on a major decision. He bounced back in the wrestlebacks with a pin to face off against Potosi's Noah Juliette for third place. Lewis had a one point lead down the homestretch, but Juliette was able to get a two-point reversal to take a 5-4 lead. Lewis didn't hear the points being awarded in the loud gym and couldn't hear the coaches telling him to get an escape to tie the match, as the clock ticked away for a loss. Despite falling in his final match, he still qualified with a fourth place finish.
"They gave the two to Noah and with all the noise and commotion there at the last few seconds, Ty thought he was still winning," said coach Moreland. "Me and coach Pogue are sitting over there screaming 'get off, get your one!' He couldn't hear us. After the match he raised his hands, he thought he won the match. He didn't realize they gave the two to Juliette...he controlled that entire match and ended up coming up short by one."
Thomas Henderson also wrestled for third at 138. Henderson won his first two matched with a pin and a 16-0 tech fall. Henderson took a tough 8-3 loss to Dylan Hellebusch from St. Francis Borgia. He rebounded from the loss to get two straight pins on his way to a third place finish.
"It was nice (to see him bounce back from the loss)," said coach Moreland. "He ended up losing that match, but he didn't let it get to him. He came back out and he put on a great show again and did well. He wrestled really well."
The lone underclassman to qualify for State was freshman Zach Woodson at 160. After a pin in his first match, Woodson got caught by William Mayberry from Central Park Hills to head to the consolation bracket. He earned pins in his first two wrestlebacks and needed to get past Afton's Michael Moran to qualify for State. The first three periods ended in a tie, but Woodson got a takedown in overtime to secure a trip to State. He then got his revenge against Mayberry with a pin in the first period to take third. Coach Moreland was excited the Woodson was able to pull out the overtime win to qualify, but he wasn't surprised.
"That's Zach. He's the kind of kid that goes out there and he never quits," said the St. James head coach. "He will never quit on you and that's what a love about that kid, he's a go-getter."
The final qualifier was Nick Wilson at 182. After a first round bye, Wilson beat Christopher Greene from Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau) on an 8-2 decision. After taking a tough 6-4 loss in the semifinal, Wilson needed to beat Devonte Flakes from Kennett to advance to State. Wilson was able to come away with a 7-5 win to qualify, before losing his third place match 6-4 to Dexter's Jett Featherson.
"He went out there and got that loss, but he didn't let it get to him," said Moreland.
As a team, the Tigers racked up 129 team points to take second. Outside of their qualifiers, they got a big three points from Kaylynn Crocker, who had a pin for her only win. That was a difference maker, as they beat Sullivan by three points. St. Genevieve won the District with 225 team points. One big downside was missing out on points at 195, because Cort Petty was ruled ineligible due to a rash that ended up being from an ingrown hair.
While St. James had a great weekend, coach Moreland wants to see his wrestlers hit an extra gear when they head to State on Thursday, Feb. 15.
"I just hope that a lot of these guys, when they head into State, that we're gonna have to turn it up a notch now," said Moreland. "They all performed well, but not as well as coach Pogue and I know they can wrestle...going into State, they've gotta do better and they should, because they can."