St. Clair’s four state qualifiers combined to win three wrestling matches in the Class 2 ranks at the MSHSAA championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Representing the Bulldogs were seniors Dustin Conner and Skyler Hutchison, junior Chris Algiere and sophomore Thomas Maple.
“They all wrestled well and left everything on the mat. That’s all I can ask for. All of the loses by Maple, Conner and Hutchison were to medalists,” said St. Clair Head Coach Bryan Watkins. “If you make a small mistake at state, it’s magnified due to the competition.”
Competing at 170 pounds, Conner was a win away from reaching the medal round. He posted a 2-2 record, finishing the season with a 30-5 mark.
Conner opened the state meet with a 10-5 win over Savannah’s Jeremiah Glise.
In the quarterfinals, Conner was pinned by Boonville’s Andrew Broyhill in 1:34.
Conner bounced back to win by technical fall over Ste. Genevieve’s A.J. Gonz, 16-1, in 4:44. He was eliminated by Owensville’s Christopher Dolles by a 6-0 decision.
“Dustin was the district champion who got his first career wins at state after qualifying three other times,” Watkins said. “He lost to the third- and sixth-place finishers. I’m very pleased with the effort and approach he showed at state.”
Hutchison had a 1-2 state record at 195 pounds, ending with a 34-8 record.
In the first round, Hutchison lost a 3-1 decision to Fulton’s John Kingsley. He rebounded in the wrestlebacks by pinning Benton’s Tage McNutt in 2:20. He was eliminated by Pleasant Hill’s Cole Reeves in sudden victory, 5-3.
“Skyler lost to the sixth-place finisher 3-1 and to the fifth-place finisher in overtime,” Watkins said. “He was only a few seconds away from a medal.”
Algiere went 0-2 at 132 pounds, ending with a 25-23 record. He lost a 7-2 decision to Kirksville’s Tanner Sparks and lost by technical fall, 16-0, to Pleasant Hill’s Cole Sullivan.
“Chris faced a loaded weight class with seven previous state medalists,” Watkins said.
Maple went 0-2 at 106 pounds to finish with a 30-18 record. He was pinned by Harrisonville’s Austin Schaub in 2:36 and lost a 10-4 decision to Fulton’s Devan Hudson.
“Thomas is only a sophomore. He lost to the fifth- and sixth-place finishers,” Watkins said. “He improved the most from the beginning of the year until the end.”
Watkins reflected on St. Clair’s wrestling season.
“I’m very pleased with what we accomplished as a team. The kids competed all year. We have a long way to go as far as reaching goals I have for the program, but we took a small step in that direction,” Watkins said. “We need to commit to the weight room this offseason and make sure we are doing everything possible to improve individually and as a program. We finished 2-3 in conference and were 11-19 in duals. We were fourth at districts and won 48 percent of our matches.”