The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

December 19, 2012

Neosho coming off fifth-place finish in KC

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.

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