Finishing fourth at the Branson Tournament, the Union wrestling Wildcats are preparing for the stretch drive.

With around a month to go before the state tournament, the Wildcats picked up valuable experience Saturday against teams it normally doesn’t face.

“I thought we wrestled a lot better on Saturday,” Union Head Coach Justin Cranmer said.

Union had wrestled Branson in a dual meet Friday night, winning by a point. That story is elsewhere in this section.

Union had one runner-up, Dalton Kuenzel (160).

Four Wildcats placed third while one placed sixth, three others were seventh. One Union wrestler ended eighth.

The Wildcats scored 176.5 points to finish fourth in the 16-team event.

Neosho won with 271 points and Nixa was second at 189. Bixby, Okla., took third with 187.5 points.

Following Union in the top 10 were Ste. Genevieve, Seneca, Branson, Monett, Bolivar and Reeds Spring.

Lee’s Summit was 11th with Sedalia Smith-Cotton, McDonald County, Rolla, Carl Junction and Webb City rounding out the event.

Kuenzel reached the championship match, losing to Mason Thompson of Bixby in the title bout, 15-7.

Kuenzel won twice by pins, once by major decision and once by a 6-5 decision over Jalen Skaggs of Seneca in the semifinals.

“Dalton Kuenzel had a great tournament,” Cranmer said. “He beat the Seneca kid, Jalen Skaggs, 6-5 in the semifinal match. Skaggs is ranked second in Class 2.”

Colton Faber (113) finished third.

“Colton Faber finished in third and wrestled tough,” Cranmer said. “He has been sick and missed a lot of matches this year so it was nice to have him back in the lineup.”

Faber won his first two matches, one by decision and one by technical fall, before getting a bye. He lost in the semifinals to Nixa’s Naseeph Al-Roubaie, 2-0, but came back to beat Monett’s Sean Jasatal on an injury default in the third-place match.

Alex Gaebe (138) placed third.

He pinned his first three opponents before losing by a 5-2 decision. In the third-place bout, he pinned McDonald County’s Christopher Dalton in 2:00.

“He pinned the Bolivar wrestler, Jacob Miles, in pool play,” Cranmer said. “Miles is ranked eighth in Class 2.”

Devon Fennessey (145) ended the tournament third.

After opening with a bye, Fennessey pinned his next two foes before losing by a pin in the semifinals. He recovered to pin Neosho’s Kyle Hostetter in the third-place bout.

Cody Pace (152) brought home third place.

“Cody Pace wrestled tough again at 152, finishing third,” Cranmer said. “He has improved a lot this year and is consistently winning tough matches.”

He pinned his first three opponents before losing in the semifinals by a pin. Pace defeated Brady Daniels of Lee’s Summit in the third-place bout, 8-2.

Jordan Nowak (126) was sixth.

Nowak won his first two matches, but then lost. He won a technical fall, but lost the fifth-place bout.

Jake Siddens (170) concluded with seventh place.

Siddens won his first match by a technical fall and moved forward with a bye, but then lost by a pin and then dropped a decision.

In the seventh-place match, he pinned Kyler Milligan of Lee’s Summit in 1:37.

Joseph Parrott (182) also took seventh place.

Parrott lost his opener, but won his next one and then took a bye. After another loss, Parrott pinned Branson’s Rowan Pepper in 2:00, a wrestler he lost to the previous night by overtime decision.

Joe Lasky (285) placed seventh.

Lasky opened with a bye, won a decision and lost. After another loss, Lasky pinned Monett’s Shawn Beeson for seventh.

Tyler Pace (120) was eighth.

Pace lost his opener but came back to win a decision and take a bye. He then lost his next two bouts.

Also wrestling for Union were Dennis Dodd (126), Nick Ciaccio (132) and Logan Meyer (160).

Each of the three went 1-2.