By Michael Davison
Globe Sports Writer
NEOSHO, Mo. - Bumping up a weight class didn't hamper Seneca's Brad Hatfield on Saturday.
The junior qualified for the state tournament at 171 pounds last season and weighed in at 174 for the Neosho Tournament.
When senior 189-pounder Jonathan Papp went down with a knee injury in the football season, his wrestling season was put on hold.
So Hatfield, 26-14 last year, went up to the 189 class. He pinned three opponents and won a technical fall against the other in winning the weight division.
"It was a little different coming in this year," he said. "But when people get hurt, a lot of people need to step up.
"Not having Papp is bad because he's my best bud. I'm looking forward to having him back some time this year, but that's iffy right now.
"The guys at 189 are bigger and a little stronger. I know (Joplin's Jeff) Sadler's tough."
Hatfield pinned the Eagle sophomore in the championship bout.
"After state last year, he realized he could win some matches," said Seneca coach Dale Naden. "He went up to the (University of Missouri-Columbia) camp this summer and beat some good wrestlers, so his confidence is up."
Hatfield was one of four Indians to win their respective weight class as Seneca cruised to the team title. Juniors Kolby Lankford (125), Weldon Patton (130) and Cody Davis (160) picked up titles. Sophomores Joe Yust (140) and Nathan Brown (160) were second.
Daniel Curtis, the lone senior wrestling for Seneca, took third place.
"It feels weird to be a junior and not having those seniors to beat me around a bit in the wrestling room," said Hatfield, son of Willie Hatfield and Vickie Ratliff who's wrestled for 11 years.
"It's not the same without Jamie (Williams), Austin (Eidson), Dusty (Webb) and Kyle. I've been wrestling with them since I was a kid. They were the heart of last year's team, but we have a lot of young kids who have stepped up and done well."
Working out last season with Papp and Brown has helped Hatfield.
"They've helped me with my takedowns, which is still a weakness," Hatfield said.
One of the new faces for Seneca is Davis, who moved from New Mexico after a 16-2 season as a sophomore.
"He's a good hard worker," Naden said. "He's pretty fundamentally sound and he's starting to pick up the little things."
Brown is a hard worker who was stuck behind Webb and Eidson last season, Naden said.
"He learned a lot at camp and his confidence is better," Naden said. "He's a straight-A student and good kid. He's still learning what he can and can't do in matches."
Yust lost 4-3 to Neosho's Dane Espinosa, runner-up at 125 as a sophomore last year, in the championship.
"He wrestled a smart match," Naden said. "Dane is a fine wrestler and has a year up on Joe in experience. We're very pleased with Joe's performance."
The Indians join Parsons, Kan., in a double dual at Neosho on Thursday then take part in the Carl Junction Invitational on Saturday.
By Michael Davison