A wrestler’s fate at the MSHSAA Championships often depends on which first-round opponent they draw.
Typically, going in as a district runner-up is a favorable sign, meaning a third-seeded competitor awaits. But for Ryan Sherry, the luck of the draw wasn’t on his side, as he faced off against the eventual state champion.
Fortunately, the Warrenton senior has become accustomed to overcoming adversity to achieve his goals.
He proved his ability to battle through the losers’ bracket again last weekend, finishing fifth in Class 3 among 120-pound competitors.
“That takes a special kid to wrestle through on the backside,” said Coach Kevin Fowler. “If you lose, your dream is over.”
It was Sherry's third state medal, after placing sixth as a junior and fourth during his sophomore season. He became just the second wrestler in program history to earn All-State honors three consecutive years.
“It’s pretty cool, because a lot of people don’t get three medals in their whole high school career,” said Sherry.
He finished the season 36-8 and amassed a career record of 129-34.
“He had a heck of career,” said Fowler. “He accomplished a lot for our program.”
Last winter Sherry entered the state tournament seeded third and had to triumph through three wrestleback rounds after losing in the opening round. He faced that same grueling task last weekend, once again persevering.
“I really wanted to get to the third place match,” said Sherry.
His first-round foe was Noah Teaney, three-time state champion, who had been upset during the district semifinals.
“When those draws come out, you definitely don’t want to see the No. 1 ranked kid as a first-round match,” said Fowler.
It was a tall order for the four-time varsity competitor, who lost 11-0 despite wrestling to his coach’s content.
“We actually went out and wrestled him pretty tough,” acknowledged Fowler. “I honestly thought it gave Ryan some confidence to go out and wrestle well the rest of the way.
Teaney easily overcame his low seed, defending his title against Malacai Collins of Warrensbury.
“He’s one of the toughest kids in the nation, but I held my own against him,” said Sherry.
The next three opponents presented a much easier challenge for Sherry, who escaped a trio of elimination matches.
"The 120 class is one of the toughest weights at the state tournament,” said Fowler. “But Ryan didn’t let that interfere with his goals.”
He pinned Camdenton’s Trevor Casady in just 56 seconds, before ousted Gage Cartner of Carthage with an 8-0 major decision. On Friday night he won by fall in the second period against Trenton Jaco of Zumwalt North.
The victory over Jaco secured Sherry’s position on the medal stand, but he still awaited a deciding match on Saturday morning. A 3-1 loss to River Buttram of Neosho, who had also been bounced by Teaney, shuffled Sherry into the fifth-place bout.
“Against Buttram, it was two good wrestlers going at it and anything could have happened,” said Sherry. “He wrestled a hard match, and I’ve just got to accept it.”
During the final match of his prep career, Sherry dispatched Platte County’s Ethan Karsten.
“He had beaten me earlier in the year, so I was pretty excited about winning the fifth-place match,” said Sherry.
Ironically, Karsten was the giant-killer who had upset Teaney during districts. He was prepared to give Sherry a taxing match as well, going ahead early in the periods.
Ultimately, Sherry executed the moves necessary to escape with a 4-3 win during the final moments.
“I believe if you really want it, you’ll go get it,” said Sherry. “You don’t have to look back with regret, and I made sure I didn’t.”