The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 13, 2013

District champ Indians have only three state veterans

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

SENECA, Mo. — Seneca’s wrestlers went through their usual drills at practice Tuesday in preparation for this week’s MSHSAA Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena.

The Indians, who won the Class 1 district tournament at Versailles, have three returning state medalists among their nine qualifiers.

Cole Lankford, a senior at 126 pounds, is a three-time state qualifier who placed fifth at 120 in Class 2 last season. Jalen Skaggs, a senior at 152, is a two-time state qualifier who placed fourth at 152 in Class 2 a year ago.

Lankford and Skaggs are the only seniors in Seneca’s lineup. “We only have three kids in the room who have state tournament experience,” said head coach Jeff Sill. “They’re going to have to shake off the butterflies. We compete in big tournaments all year long.”

Will Roark, who was runner-up at 113 in Class 2 last year as a freshman, enters the tournament with a career record of 105-4.

Seneca’s first-time state qualifiers are Quentin Cotten, a freshman at 113; Jesse Rhoades, a freshman at 132; Ryker Skelton, a junior at 170; Jeff Butler, a junior at 182; Dylan West, a sophomore at 195, and Devin Madison, a junior at 220.

The Indians, ranked No. 2 in Class 1, face difficult assignments in the first round. Cotten is up against Caleb Osborn of Lathrop, a junior who was ranked fourth at 120 before he moved down a weight class.

Skelton drew top-ranked Whitfield’s Andrew McLaughlin, who is ranked No. 2 at 170. West will face Justin Hicks of Polo, ranked No. 1 at 195, and Madison will face Josh Riggs of Maysville, ranked No. 2 at 220.

“What we told our kids is everybody is 0-0,” Sill said. “You’re in a 16-man bracket. You’re going to have to beat them somewhere, whether it’s the first round or the second round.

“We talked about keeping the right frame of mind,” he said. “If something unexpected happens, we need to regroup and keep a positive frame of mind. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You have to finish as high as you can from that point.

“We’re not going to score points just because we have nine guys. We’re going to have to win matches.”