The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 14, 2014

Wrestling postseason begins

Neosho will be out to defend its championship when it wrestles in the Class 3, District 3 tournament today and Saturday at Branson.

The Wildcats, who won the Central Ozark Conference Large Division tournament two weeks ago at Willard, could face several of the same opponents in district competition.

The field will not include five COC Large Division champions — four from Nixa and one from Ozark — who compete in Class 4. That gives five Neosho wrestlers who were defeated in the finals of the conference tournament a second chance for individual titles.

“We train for wrestling our best when it matters most,” said Neosho coach Jeremy Phillips. “Not just technique, but conditioning and our mental frame of mind.

“You don’t want doubt to creep in. You can’t just focus on one aspect,” he said.

Teams outside the conference who will compete in the district tournament are Camdenton, Carl Junction, Glendale, Hillcrest, Lebanon, Marshfield, McDonald County, Parkview and Rolla.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the state tournament Feb. 20-22 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Where the Wildcats could go head-to-head against conference opponents again at the district meet, Neosho would have a chance to avenge losses in the finals at 106 pounds (Dalton Kivett) and at 132 (Isaac Townsend).

At the same time, Neosho’s opponents will attempt to avenge five close losses in the finals, including two from Webb City. Chance Branstetter at 152 edged the Cardinals’ Hunter Vanlue 2-1, and Austin Hailey at 195 slipped past Brandon Musselman 3-0.

“We have a tough district,” Phillips said. “I don’t worry about the other teams too much. I worry about the 14 guys I have in this tournament. If we go in, wrestle well and come up short, so be it.”

Joplin will wrestle in Class 4, District 3 at Waynesville. Nevada and Monett will wrestle in Class 2, District 3 at Bolivar, while Diamond and Seneca are assigned to Class 1, District 2 at Blair Oaks in Jefferson City.

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