By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Neosho made its annual trek to a regional wrestling tournament in Kansas City last weekend and returned with a familiar prize.
The Wildcats brought home the fifth-place team trophy from the Kansas City Stampede, a tournament known for attracting some of the nation’s most highly regarded high school programs.
“My assistants and I took notes for two days, and honestly that’s what we train off of most of the season,” said Neosho head coach Jeremy Phillips. “They’ve noted it before as being one of the top five tournaments in the country.
“The first time we won the state tournament (2010), we were fifth at Kansas City, so our guys know we’re on the right track,” he said. “Sometimes, too much success can allow a team to be complacent. There’s work to be done.”
The Wildcats, ranked No. 1 in Class 3 by MissouriWrestling.com, saw some of the competitors they might see again at the state tournament, including wrestlers from No. 2 Kearney, No. 5 Farmington and No. 6 Platte County.
Neosho travels to Collinsville (Okla.) for a dual Thursday against the team that won the Kansas City Stampede.
“Collinsville is ranked 13th in the country,” Phillips said. “We finished ahead of five teams ranked in the top 50. It’s not first, but we were several places ahead of teams that are ranked nationally.”
The tournament field included 36 teams from 10 states and featured 111 state medalists, 29 state champions and 26 All-Americans.
Neosho’s Nate Rodriguez, ranked No. 1 in Missouri Class 3, won the championship at 132 pounds. Kyler Rea at 106 and Christian Lopez at 220 were runners-up, Jacob Brock was fifth at 182, River Buttram was seventh at 120 and Aaron Clardy was eighth at 285.
One casualty for the Wildcats was Sam Williams at 152, who will not require surgery but will be out of the lineup indefinitely after he was injured in the quarterfinals, Phillips said.
Neosho travels to Granite City, Ill. for the 52nd William “Red” Schmitt Holiday tournament Dec. 28-29. The 25-team field includes Staley of Kansas City North, which is ranked No. 4 in Missouri Class 3.
Injury bug bites Seneca
Injuries forced three Seneca wrestlers to an early exit last weekend from the Harrisonville Christmas Tournament.
Seneca, which placed seventh in the team standings, finished without Jesse Rhoades at 132, Rodney Kohler at 138 and Jake Truelove at 170.
“The injury bug hit us pretty hard,” said Seneca head coach Jeff Sill. All three likely will be out of the lineup at least through the Kinloch Classic Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27 and 28 in Springfield, he said.
Carthage, McDonald County and Monett also are entered in the 23-team tournament.
Will Roark at 120 and Jalen Skaggs at 160 won individual championships at Harrisonville, while Logan Grady was runner-up at 145. Cole Lankford, ranked No. 1 in Class 1 at 126 pounds, placed seventh.