For five Union wrestling Wildcats, the season will continue in Columbia later this week.
Union qualified five of its wrestlers for the MSHSAA Class 3 Championships. The three-day event starts Thursday at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Advancing to Columbia are:
• Senior Alex Gaebe (138), who finished second;
• Senior Devon Fennessey (145), who finished second;
• Senior Cody Pace (152), who finished third;
• Junior Dalton Kuenzel (160), who finished third; and
• Junior Joe Lasky (220), who finished third.
“We qualified the five kids who were seeded in the top four at the district,” said Union Head Coach Justin Cranmer. “It would have been nice to get another kid or two to the state tournament. I thought that overall they wrestled well.”
As a team, the Wildcats finished sixth in the final team standings with 107.5 points.
Washington won the team title with 205.5 points.
Farmington took second at 177.5 points while Webster Groves was third at 127.5. Pacific was fourth at 117.5 points, De Soto ended fifth at 112.5 and Union followed in sixth.
After Union were Rockwood Summit (83.5), Sikeston (83.5), Hillsboro (74), Windsor (56), Poplar Bluff (54), Festus (45), Cape Central (39), St. Mary’s (34) and North County (18).
“We have come a long way in the last two years but I still expect a lot more from them,” Cranmer said. “I don’t want to be too hard on them now but I want to be competing for district championships and top four finishes at state now, not five years from now. I know that it will come with time. The program is moving in the right direction. Our schedule keeps improving and the better competition will help us to prepare for those tough district and state matches. We will continue to improve our offseason schedule and training to get better too.”
Gaebe (44-5) advanced to the title bout with two wins. He pinned Devin Somers of Pacific in 3:48 and then earned an 8-4 decision over Farmington’s William Seibert.
In the title match, Gaebe dropped a 13-5 major decision to Washington’s Cole Hamai.
Gaebe will open the Class 3 state tournament against Neosho sophomore Jason Box (33-19).
“Alex Gaebe took care of business and wrestled to his seed, finishing second to Cole Hamai from Washington,” Cranmer said. “Cole is a great wrestler. We are trying to get to that level as a team and wrestle with that type of intensity in every match. Alex wrestled him well and kept it close until the third period when Cole decided to cut him and take him down a few times.”
Fennessey (47-5) picked up two quick wins to reach the finals. He pinned Grant Feldt of Rockwood Summit in 1:01 and Lucas Ambrecht of Windsor in 15 seconds.
In the title bout, Fennessey lost by a 15-9 decision to Farmington’s Collin Huitt.
Fennessey will open the state tournament against Carthage freshman Tommy Bradshaw (31-11).
“Devon Fennessey made it to the finals but did not wrestle well against Huitt and took second,” said Cranmer. “He needs to stay aggressive at the state tournament. If he does he has a good shot at placing.”
Pace (48-7) won his first two matches before losing in the semifinals.
In the opening round, Pace pinned Austin Marler of Windsor in 1:14 and followed that with a 1:47 pin of Rockwood Summit’s Mike Marlow.
In the semifinals, Dalton Voyles of Pacific took a 5-2 decision over Pace. In the consolation semifinals, Pace secured a state berth with a 2:33 pin of Antwuan Dorsey of Sikeston.
In the third-place bout, Pace earned a 9-3 decision over Reed Dietiker of Webster Groves.
Pace will open the state tournament against Oak Park senior Dominic Cervantes (23-7).
“Cody Pace lost a close match to Dalton Voyles in the semifinals,” Cranmer said. “Those two have battled three times this year and every time has been a good match. Cody wrestled back to take third.”
Kuenzel (38-7) won his first match before being knocked into the wrestlebacks.
Kuenzel opened with a second-round win over Eric Decker of Poplar Bluff with a 5:11 pin.
In the semifinals Rockwood Summit’s Ian McIntosh took a 9-0 major decision over Kuenzel.
Kuenzel secured his Columbia trip by pinning Farmington’s Joseph Roberts in 1:58. He improved his draw with a 13-3 major decision against Windsor’s Tyler Warren in the third-place bout.
Kuenzel will open the state tournament against Neosho sophomore Chance Branstetter (33-18).
“Dalton Kuenzel wrestled well the whole weekend,” Cranmer said. “He lost to McIntosh, who is the top-ranked kid in the state, in the semifinals.”
Lasky (38-15), who wrestled most of the season at 285, followed the same path as his teammates.
In the second round, Lasky pinned Sikeston’s Tarrington Marks with one second left in the match. The pin went at 5:59.
Hillsboro’s undefeated Jarad Sheppard pinned Lasky in 3:11 during the semifinals.
Lasky came back to pin Rockwood Summit’s Tim Larrigan in 50 seconds. In the third-place bout, Lasky pinned Marks in 26 seconds to improve his state pairing.
Lasky will begin the state meet against McDonald County senior Jordan Moffett (42-1).
“Joe Lasky has really turned it on at the end of the year,” Cranmer said. “He has improved tremendously this year. He has become a good wrestler in just a few months.”
For Union’s other wrestlers, the season ended in the district tournament.
Three Union wrestlers reached the consolation semifinals, concluding one win short of making the state tournament.
Freshman Colton Faber (113) ended the season with a 33-9 record. He came within one win of reaching the state tournament after recording a 20-4 technical fall over Farmington’s Brady Rowl and a 7-2 decision against Sikeston’s Garrick Madison.
Washington’s Parker Neptune knocked Faber out of the meet.
Freshman Tyler Pace (120) ended his season at 32-19 and was beaten in the consolation semifinals.
After a quarterfinal loss to Washington’s Cody Gardner by a pin in 3:57, Pace rallied with a bye and a sudden victory win over Sikeston’s Javeon Bonner before losing to Pacific’s Joseph Rind.
Senior Joe Parrott (182) came within a win of making it to the state meet.
After a first-round loss, Parrott came back to defeat Pacific’s Andrew Cooper by a 3:57 pin and Rockwood Summit’s Tony Turner by a 7-6 decision before losing to Hillsboro’s Jeffrey Johnson.
Junior Jake Siddens (170) won his opener by pinning Poplar Bluff’s Steven Haley in 1:26, but lost his next two bouts to end the season at 31-22.
Senior Jordan Nowak (126) lost both of his matches to finish at 34-17.
Senior Dennis Dodd (132) lost his two matches to end at 9-8.
Senior Jimmy Lewis (195) lost his first two matches to end the season with a 5-8 record.