With Dustin Conner leading the way, St. Clair had four wrestlers qualify for this week’s state meet during the Class 2 District 1 Tournament last Friday and Saturday at Ste. Genevieve High School.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state competition, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
The Bulldogs finished fourth in the 14-team field.
Ste. Genevieve claimed the district title with 255 points. Dexter finished second with 198 points followed by Park Hills Central with 148, St. Clair with 113, Affton with 101.5, Sumner with 81 and Sullivan with 78 to round out the top seven.
“As a whole, finishing fourth out of 14 was not bad considering how young we are. We lose only two seniors,” said St. Clair Head Coach Bryan Watkins. “I thought we could get two more through, but the breaks did not fall our way in those matches. I’m very proud of the team and how they competed all year. We got better throughout the year.”
Conner, a senior, claimed the 170-pound title with a 4-0 record, improving to 25-3 on the season.
Winning all four matches by pin, Conner defeated Affton’s Luke Inman in 44 seconds in the finals.
“We expected this all year from Dustin,” Watkins said. “He’s been consistent all year for us and has been waiting for this moment for four years.”
Skyler Hutchison, a senior, also reached the finals and settled for a second-place finish at 195 pounds with a 2-1 record, improving to 25-6 on the season.
Winning his first two matches by pin, Hutchison lost a 7-4 decision to Ste. Genevieve’s Ethan Vaeth in the finals.
“I know Skyler is disappointed he did not win the district title, but I expect him to rebound and challenge for a state medal,” Watkins said. “He’s a very good wrestler and like Dustin, has been looking forward to this for four years.”
Also qualifying for state were Chris Algiere and Thomas Maple.
Algiere, a junior, took third place at 132 pounds with a 4-1 record, improving to 25-21 on the season.
He lost in the semifinals to Ste. Genevieve’s Tanner Jones, but bounced back with a pair of wins, including a 14-0 major decision over Sullivan’s Ryan Eastman in the third-place match.
“Chris has wrestled great over the last month. He’s peaking at the right time,” Watkins said. “He fought through a tough back injury during the first half of the year.”
Maple, a sophomore, took fourth place at 106 pounds with a 2-2 record, moving to 22-16 on the season.
Maple rebounded from a semifinal loss to pin Park Hills Central’s Todd Boyer in the consolation semifinals. He then lost a 6-2 decision to Sullivan’s Jacob Dixon in the third-place match.
“Thomas has wrestled well all year, but has wrestled exceptional over the last month,” Watkins said. “I was not surprised he got through.”
St. Clair’s Colton Huddleston reached the 285-pound semifinals, but lost his next two matches. He had a 2-2 record and ended the season with a 21-14 mark.
Also competing for St. Clair and not qualifying were:
• Lucas Davis (113) was 1-2, finishing with a 15-16 record;
• Ethan Koenig (120) was 2-2, ending with a 13-19 record;
• Zach Long (126) was 1-2, finishing with a 3-15 record;
• Chase Cohen (138) was 2-2, ending with a 16-24 record;
• Austin Nappier (145) was 1-2, finishing with a 5-27 record;
• Cody Stroup (152) was 0-2, ending with a 17-24 record; and
• Jarred Dingley (220) was 1-2, finishing with a 7-22 record.
Sullivan also had four wrestlers qualify for the state meet.
Moving on for the Eagles were Alex Crooks (second at 160), Jacob Dixon (third at 106), Travis Mogab (third at 145) and Ryan Eastman (fourth at 132).