Competing at the GAC Tournament last Friday and Saturday at Ft. Zumwalt North, Washington sent six wrestlers to the finals, captured two crowns and earned second-place team honors.
The two-day event featured every wrestling team in the Gateway Athletic Conference except first-year school Liberty.
Timberland captured the team championship with 215.5 points.
The Blue Jays, who were in first place following the opening day, accumulated 190 points to finish second.
Holt placed third with 182.5 points followed by Francis Howell (161), Francis Howell Central (136), Ft. Zumwalt West (120.5), Ft. Zumwalt North (110), St. Charles West (86), Troy (71), Francis Howell North (59), Ft. Zumwalt South (57.5), St. Charles (37), Warrenton (19), Winfield (12) and Ft. Zumwalt East (6).
“Although we are very disappointed we did not achieve our goal of being GAC champions, we can still look back and be proud of our accomplishments,” said Washington Head Coach Josh Ohm. “We were able to put six in the finals and finish ahead of Class 4 Holt, who is ranked No. 4 in Class 4. You can never be too upset when you push Timberland, who is one of the very best in Missouri.”
Winning individual titles and remaining unbeaten on the season were seniors Cole Hamai and Kyle Summers.
Hamai won his third career GAC title, claiming the 145-pound class with a 4-0 record.
Hamai (35-0) won a 5-1 decision over Timberland’s Zack Enloe in the finals. His other three victories came on first-period pins.
“Cole continues to look dominant. He was never pushed, including his finals match against a returning Class 4 state medalist who is also ranked in Class 4 in the top 2 at his weight,” Ohm said. “Cole continues to improve with every match. It was a great honor for him to win his third GAC title.”
Summers (30-0) breezed to his second career GAC title, taking the 182-pound crown with a 4-0 record.
In the finals, Summers won a 6-2 decision over Ft. Zumwalt West’s David Horvath. He won two matches by pin and the other by major decision.
“Kyle, just like Cole, completely dominated his bracket,” Ohm said. “Kyle is wrestling with a lot of confidence right now and that makes him extremely hard to beat. We’re excited for this week when he’ll get the chance to wrestle one of the very best in Class 3 at the Union dual.”
Reaching the finals and earning second-place honors were Parker Neptune, Nicholas Solter, Jeremy Monehan and Logan Baird.
Neptune (113) had a 1-1 record after receiving byes in the first two rounds, improving to 24-7 on the season.
In the finals, Neptune lost to Holt’s Clayton Berry after a 4-3 semifinal victory.
“Parker was unhappy with his performance in the finals, but he got caught in a bad position and that happens sometimes,” Ohm said. “He just needs to stay positive and have confidence in knowing that he has not been beaten by a Class 3 opponent at 113 this year.”
Solter (126) posted a 3-1 record, improving to 31-2 on the season.
In the finals, Solter lost to Holt’s Clayton Smith after an 8-0 semifinal win.
“Nicholas had an extremely tough semifinal match against a returning state medalist. He dominated the entire match to earn the bonus,” Ohm said. “We’re extremely pleased with Nicholas so far this season and are really excited to see what the rest of the season can bring for him. His only two losses of the year are to a returning Class 4 state champion, Colby Smith.”
Monehan (160) registered a 3-1 record, improving to 18-16 on the season.
In the finals, Monehan lost to Howell Central’s Zach Litzinger after a hard-fought 12-7 semifinal win.
“Jeremy had a great match in the semifinals to beat a ranked kid who had beaten him earlier in the year,” Ohm said. “We know how good Jeremy can be. Once we get him to realize that, we will get quite a bit of production out of him.”
Baird (195) had a 3-1 record, improving to 27-4 on the campaign.
In the finals, Baird lost a 7-3 decision to Timberland’s Chance Cooper. Baird’s three other wins were by pins.
“Logan wrestled Cooper, who is a returning state finalist, and did a good job. He has really closed the gap on him from being pinned the last time they wrestled,” Ohm said. “Logan is scoring a ton of points for us and we expect big things from him.”
Josh Luck and Matt Pecka both reached the semifinals and earned fourth-place finishes.
Luck (138) had a 3-2 record, improving to 20-12. He lost the third-place match, 5-2, to Troy’s Alec Seely.
Pecka (285) posted a 2-2 record, moving to 26-6. He lost the third-place match to Francis Howell’s Cory Fleming.
Cody Hey and Jacob Kliethermes both had sixth-place finishes.
Hey (106) had a 2-3 record, moving to 19-15. He lost the fifth-place match to Timberland’s Cameron Spires.
“Cody had a great meet. He had one of the toughest brackets I’ve ever seen. There will be quite a few state medalists from that bracket come February,” Ohm said. “To see him fight back to sixth place as a freshman, we were very excited. He was down in some matches, but stayed focused and worked his way back in the match and scored some important team points.”
Kliethermes (220) registered a 2-3 record, moving to 13-14. He lost the fifth-place match to Ft. Zumwalt North’s Mason Seeger.
Also competing were Joe Omer, Austin Gaebe, Izeck Elbert and Corey Kluesner.
Omer (120) was 0-2, moving to 4-12. Gaebe (132) was 1-2, moving to 1-6. Elbert (152) was 1-2 in his first varsity action of the season. Kluesner (170) was 1-2, moving to 6-14.
“We have extremely high expectations for this team and we’ll continue to work toward them as the season draws toward the postseason,” Ohm said. “We just want to stay positive right now and really focus on improving and nothing else.”