Kuenzel Blazes Trail for Union Wrestlers - The Missourian: Sports

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Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 3:00 pm

It wasn’t hard to find Dalton Kuenzel at the Mizzou Arena.

Sporting a bright red trihawk, Kuenzel stood out among the many competitors at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.

“It’s the greatest feeling,” Kuenzel said following the title bout.

Kuenzel especially stood out at the top of the podium, when he accepted his medal and bracket after winning the Class 3 182-pound state championship bout over Winnetonka’s Markel Fluker by a 3:05 pin Saturday night.

The smile on Kuenzel’s face was a final acknowledgement to the crowd as his prep career came to a close during the event. An energetic and emotional wrestler in a stoic sport, Kuenzel wasn’t afraid to let his euphoria show through as he took in the scene from the arena floor.

Even with the smile on his face, it took a bit for the reality of a state championship to set in for Kuenzel.

“It really just felt like another tournament,” Kuenzel said. “It’s going to take a while for reality to set in that I actually accomplished my goal to win state.”

Union Head Coach Justin Cranmer said Kuenzel has made his mark with the Wildcats.

“He is a dynamic exciting wrestler who is really fun to watch,” Union Head Coach Justin Cranmer said.

Kuenzel hopes to inspire the next generation of wrestling Wildcats with the championship.

“I think this is going to be a confidence booster for all of the younger kids coming up,” Kuenzel said. “It shows that no matter where you start, you can always finish higher than where you began.”

Kuenzel described his emotional style as coming from hating defeat.

“Growing up, I always took losses really heavy,” Kuenzel said. “When I didn’t perform good enough, I always was hard on myself, so I got to become an emotional, physical wrestler.”

Championship Match

Called DK by his friends and teammates, Kuenzel (46-2) captured Union’s first state championship since 1992 when he pinned Winnetonka’s Markel Fluker in 3:05.

“He’s very good,” Kuenzel complimented his opponent. “He’s a very athletic kid.”

The match was pure DK. Fluid in his motion, Kuenzel got caught for a takedown in the first period and trailed 2-0 after two minutes of action.

Starting on top for the second period, he surrendered an escape before it happened.

Establishing upper body control, Kuenzel pulled Fluker off of his feet and to his back. By the time the head referee moved into position, it was over.

“It’s was a gillpin, a move I’ve practiced just in case I’ve needed it,” Kuenzel said. “I just felt I could hit it on him to win the match and it worked. He’s a great kid.”

Cranmer has seen Kuenzel record many quick pins over the last couple of seasons.

“In his finals match he was also down 3-0 to when he got the takedown against Fluker and the fall,” Cranmer said.

Kuenzel quickly sprung back to his feet and started the celebration.

DK was the first Wildcat to appear in a state championship match since Jimmy Barnhart finished second in the Class 2, 215-pound, weight division in 2009. With the pin, he became the first Union wrestler to ever win a state title by a pin.

The previous Union state champion, Mat Machelett, won the Class 3A heavyweight title by a 5-3 decision over Neosho’s Russell Lewis, 5-3.

“I tried not to look at the names on the wall in the wrestling room so I wouldn’t get so hungry and I would get it on my own,” Kuenzel said.

Senior Standard

Kuenzel was proud that this year’s senior class has been able to establish a standard for future Union wrestling teams. Union claimed two state medals with senior Joe Lasky finishing sixth at 220 pounds.

“I love my teammate, DK,” Lasky said. “He’s one of my best friends. He’s the main reason I came out for wrestling, so it’s great to medal with him.”

Dalton leaves Union with the career wins record at Union, going 141-28 as a Wildcat.

Kuenzel hopes to continue his wrestling career and will be competing in two events in March. He is scheduled to wrestle in the East-West All-Star Meet in Edwardsville, Ill., and then will travel with teammate Joe Lasky to the senior national tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., March 27-30.

Rivalries

Kuenzel’s only two losses during the season came to his longtime opponent, Pacific’s Austin Repp.

Repp, who capped the first 58-0 season in MSHSAA history and won his second consecutive Class 3, 170-pound, state crown, had moved up to grapple with Kuenzel during the two times Union met Pacific this season.

The first meeting came during the Hillsboro Tournament, an 8-3 victory for Repp. The second meeting came in the Four Rivers Conference dual meet in Pacific Feb. 6. Repp won by a pin in 4:38.

“Austin’s a great kid,” Kuenzel said. “I’ve wrestled him since we were in third grade. I’ve beaten him once. It’s always been a big rivalry between us and it’s just a head game now. He’s great. He has all the respect I can give to him.”

Another area wrestler Kuenzel has developed respect for is Washington’s Kyle Summers. The two wrestled twice this season with Kuenzel winning both matches, including the district championship bout.

“He’s a very athletic, straightforward, hard wrestling kid,” Kuenzel said. “I love wrestling with Kyle. I didn’t like how the match ended at districts because neither one of us wanted that to happen and I did not want to win like that. I wanted to see him in the state finals. I thought that would have been a great finals match here. I was happy that he came back to win his fifth-place match.”

State Meet

Heading into the postseason, Kuenzel and his Union teammates once again cut and colored their hair bright red.

“I had a mohawk last year,” Kuenzel said. “This year, I wanted a red trihawk, so that’s what my friends and I did. I guess it’s just a tradition now.”

In the state meet, Kuenzel didn’t have a match reach go the entire six minutes as he won all four of them by pins.

In the opening round Thursday, Kuenzel finished Branson’s Christian Robertson just 11 seconds into the second period.

His second match, Friday against Grain Valley’s Joe Sodano, lasted 45 seconds.

But Kuenzel hit his toughest bout of the tournament in the semifinals against Willard’s Hunter Yeargan.

“I underestimated him more than I should have,” Kuenzel said. “They tell you not to underestimate people and I did. He’s a lot stronger and better than I thought. He’s a very good kid. I expect him to win the next two years. He’s a fantastic kid.”

Facing the 49-1 sophomore, Kuenzel had his hands full. The match was touch-and-go until Kuenzel found his opening and attacked in the third period.

“In his semifinal match, he got down 3-0 but he battled back and overcame adversity to tie the score in the third period before Yeargan took his second injury timeout,” Cranmer said. “Dalton got the choice and picked down. He got the reversal to his back for the fall.”

DK jumped to his feet after winning by a pin in 5:20, knowing he had just one more match in front of the packed Mizzou Arena the next night.

Kuenzel hopes to pass his knowledge on to younger Union wrestlers.

“My dad’s a little league head coach,” Kuenzel said. “I guess after this, I’m just going to have to come back and help coach.”

(182) Dalton Kuenzel, Union (46-2) state champion

• Won 2:11 pin over Christian Robertson, Branson

• Won 0:45 pin over Joey Sodano, Grain Valley

• Won 5:20 pin over Hunter Yeargan, Willard

• Won 3:05 pin over Markel Fluker, Winnetonka

/

Area Scoreboard

Boys Basketball

Monday, Jan. 26

^Rock Bridge 79, Northwest 27

^Lutheran South 76, Hillsboro 43

Owensville 41, Hermann 40

St. James 80, Montgomery County 39

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Jackson 65, Pacific 44

^Borgia 82,  Union 61

~Warrenton 69, Chamois 24

^Washington 49, St. Clair 45 (OT)

~Wright City 51, New Haven 37

*Bethel at Crosspoint    7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

^Hillsboro 49, Northwest 34

~New Haven 35, Chamois 28

~Wright City 47, Warrenton 41

^Union 63,  St. Clair 60

~Hermann 63 vs. Montgomery Co 5

St. James 57, Owensville 35

Friday, Jan. 30

^Rock Bridge vs. Lutheran South    5:30 p.m.

^Borgia vs. Washington    7 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    7:30 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

^Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

~Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

^Consolation    4 p.m.

~Consolation    4 p.m.

^Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

~Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

^Championship    7 p.m.

~Championship    7 p.m.

^Union Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

Monday, Feb. 2

New Haven at Silex   5:30  p.m.

Fulton SA at North County Christian    7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Whitfield at Union    4 p.m.

*Crosspoint at Fulton SA    6:30 p.m.

Pacific at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

*Holt at Washington    7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5

*Fulton SA at Community Christian    6:30 p.m.

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

*Rivers of Life at Crosspoint    7 p.m.

Wellsville at New Haven     6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6

*Union at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at St. James    6 p.m.

*Borgia at St. Mary’s    6:45 p.m.

*St. Clair at Sullivan    7 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 9

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Feb. 10

*St. Clair at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

*Hermann at Union    5:30 p.m.

Rock Bridge at Borgia    7:15 p.m.

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

Owensville at New Haven   6 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Monday, Jan. 26

^Holt 60, Pacific 57

^Warrenton 42, Union 40

~Owensville 64,  Montgomery Co 32

Borgia 62, Cardinal Ritter 41

^St. Clair 64, Lutheran South 45

~Hermann 57, Wright City 26

Washington 74, Wentzville Liberty 19

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Fulton SA at Barat    4:30 p.m.

~New Haven 42, Montgomery Co 34

*Bethel at Crosspoint    6:15 p.m.

~Chamois 61, Wright City 20

Wednesday, Jan. 28

^Pacific 62, Union 59 (OT)

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    5 p.m.

^Lutheran South 54, Wentzville Liberty 40

~Owensville 54, New Haven 24

^Warrenton 51, Holt 44

~Chamois 50, Hermann 45

^Washington 54, St. Clair 31

Thursday, Jan. 29

*Notre Dame 50, Borgia 45

Friday, Jan. 30

^Seventh-place game — Union vs. Wentzville Liberty   4 p.m.

~Consolation — Montgomery Co. vs. Wright City    5 p.m.

^Consolation — Pacific vs. Lutheran South    5:30 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    6 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    6 p.m.

~Third-place game — Hermann vs. New Haven   6:30 p.m.

^Third-place game — St. Clair vs. Holt   7 p.m.

~Championship — Owensville vs. Chamois   8 p.m.

^Championship — Washington vs. Warrenton    8:30 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 2

#Borgia vs. Patriettes    4 p.m.

#Cardinal Ritter vs. Union    5:20 p.m.

De Soto at St. Clair    5:30 p.m.

Fulton SA at North County Christian    6 p.m.

#Washington vs. Parkway South    6:40 p.m.

Chamois at New Haven    7 p.m.

#Helias vs. Troy    8 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

*Crosspoint at Fulton SA    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

#Washington-Parkway South loser vs. Helias-Troy loser    4 p.m.

#Borgia-Patriettes loser vs. Cardinal Ritter-Union loser    5:20 p.m.

#Washington-Parkway South winner vs. Helias-Troy winner    6:40 p.m.

#Borgia-Patriettes winner vs. Cardinal Ritter-Union winner    8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5

*Pacific at St. James    6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6

Barat at Fulton SA    4:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

*Rivers of Life at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7

#Seventh-place game    noon

#Consolation    1:30 p.m.

#Third-place game    3 p.m.

#Championship    4:30 p.m.

New Haven at Elsberry    5 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 9

*Hermann at Union    5:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

*Owensville at New Haven    6 p.m.

*St. Dominic at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Feb. 10

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt South    5:30 p.m.

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

^Washington Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

#Borgia Tournament

Wrestling

Tuesday, Jan. 27

*Pacific 42, St. Clair 33

Borgia 36, Hallsville 30

Helias 66, Borgia 21

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Borgia at Lutheran St. Charles    5 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Summit 39, Union 34

Owensville 41, Pacific 38

Pacific 45, St. James 28

Friday, Jan. 30

St. Clair at DeSoto   5 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

Pacific at Hazelwood East Tny    9 a.m.

St. Clair at DeSoto 9 a.m.

Monday, Feb. 2

Borgia at O’Fallon Christian    5 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Washington at Pacific    6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

Borgia at AAA Tny    TBA

Thursday, Feb. 5

*Pacific at Union    6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7

Washington at Seckman Tny    9 a.m.

St. Clair at Francis Howell Central Inv    9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

Pacific at Parkway Central Tri-Meet    5 p.m.

Girls Swimming

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Timberland 140, Washington 96, Ft. Zumwalt East 87

Thursday, Jan. 22

Oakville 120, Washington 115, University City 9, Mehlville 6

Saturday, Jan. 24

Washington 91, Borgia 80

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Washington 122, St. Charles West 46

Thursday, Jan. 29

Washington at Affton/Lutheran South    4:15 p.m.

Borgia at St. Dominic    8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Washington at McCluer North    3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

Borgia at MICDS/Duchesne (Rec-Plex)    8:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6

Washington at Ft. Zumwalt South    3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

Borgia at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

Washington at GAC Meet    TBA

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Washington at GAC Meet    TBA

Thursday, Feb. 12

Borgia at AAA Meet    TBA

Washington at GAC Meet    TBA

*Conference Games

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