It won’t be the first time St. Clair has sent female wrestlers to the state tournament, but it will be the first time they won’t be competing against the boys.
St. Clair qualified three individuals for the state tournament Friday and Saturday at the Class 1 District 1 Tournament in Hillsboro. Makayla Johnson (135 pounds), Elexis Wohlgemuth (142) and Makenzie Turner (235) all ended on the medal stand at the district tournament to earn their way to the state event.
Missouri introduced girls wrestling as a separate sport from boys wrestling last season. St. Clair alumna Randi Beltz won two state medals wrestling against the boys in 2005 and 2007.
St. Clair earned 84.5 team points in the district tournament to finish fifth in the standings.
“It is a rare feat for a team to attend any tournament and come away from it with every team member winning at least one match and many two or more,” St. Clair Head Coach Mel Hughes said. “Our girls trained hard for the District Tournament and that work paid off with a fifth-place finish of more than 40 teams and three individual state qualifiers.”
Northwest won the team title with 154 points. Lafayette (124.5), Ste. Genevieve (100) and Mehlville (86) also finished in the top five teams.
Other area schools competing in that district included St. James (tied for 21st, 21 points), Union (tied for 23rd, 20 points), Pacific (31st, nine points) and Sullivan (36th, three points).
Johnson was St. Clair’s top finisher at the event, taking second place in her weight class.
“Makayla’s final appearance was even more impressive as she has been dealing with a shoulder injury most of the season,” Hughes said. “She has worked hard on rehab for it and we expect her to feel much better for the state championships. Regardless of the injury though, Makayla was not going to be denied qualifying for state.”
Johnson won each of her first three matches, pinning Maeve Wissingter (Notre Dame, 1:34) and Lindsey Stelzer (Marquette, 0:44) and earning a 16-0 technical fall against Pacific’s Lana Todahl.
In the championship round, Northwest’s Taylor Murphey was able to pin Johnson in the third period.
“Makayla is a first-year wrestler, which means she stepped on the mat for the first time in November, and now is one of the top 16 135-pound wrestlers in the state,” Hughes said. “Her incredible balance, speed, power and determination have contributed much to her success. She is a student of the sport and is learning as fast as any wrestler I have coached in over 35 years.”
Wohlgemuth and Tuner both placed third.
Wohlgemuth started with a win by pin in 33 seconds against Jasmine Alley (Park Hills Central) before taking her only loss by a 3-1 decision to Mehlville’s Naida Abdijanovic in the quarterfinals.
From that point on, Wohlgemuth won four consecutive matches. She pinned Abby Love (Notre Dame, 1:39), Riley Coleman (De Soto, 2:44) and Jaime Lee (Northwest, 2:14). In the third-place match, she won a 10-6 decision against Scarlette Maier (Ladue).
“Elexis has been one of our most consistent performers this season,” Hughes said. “She has many strengths but her most impressive skill is her ability to turn opponents for near falls and pins. Elexis is always willing to do the extra work it takes to experience the kind of success she has.”
Turner suffered her only loss in the first round where she was pinned by Marquette’s Alyssa Washington. She then won four straight matches, all by pin in the first round.
Turner pinned, in order, Cara Foster (Northwest, 1:12), Marissa Hudman (Hillsboro, 0:15), Grace Kearby (Poplar Bluff, 0:56) and Mari Lopez (Eureka, 1:49).
“Makenzie showed her mettle after being upset in her first round match and bounced back with four consecutive wins by fall to place third,” Hughes said. “We are highly confident in Makenzie heading into state. She is highly motivated and wants to end her senior season on the state podium.”
Emma Davis (120) and Kaitlyn Janson (130) each ended their tournament in the consolation semifinals.
Davis won two matches, pinning Julia Datus (Lindbergh, 0:32) and scoring an 11-2 major decision against Taji Israel-Czembe (Lafayette).
Janson went 3-2. She won once by pin against Gloria Kuebee (Rockwood Summit, 3:49) and won twice by decision against Faith Rouff (Eureka, 3-0) and Hunter Bullock (De Soto, 7-3).
Hannah Thacker (125) went 2-2. She scored a win by pin against Alexis Rowland (Poplar Bluff, 3:44) and won by medical forfeit against Gabriel Powers (Brentwood).
Cassidy Shoemate (110), Lili Vernon (115) and Berlyn Wohlgemuth (187) each recorded one win.
Shoemate defeated Lauren Macmiller (Northwest) by pin in 2:27.
Vernon won a 5-4 decision against Union’s Lillie Zimmermann.
Berlyn Wohlgemuth pinned Mae Stewart (Kirkwood) in 2:39.
The state tournament is scheduled for Feb. 20-22 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.