The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 23, 2014

Neosho wrestlers set school records in medals, points

The four wrestlers who competed in the finals Saturday night were the last wave of Neosho’s 14-man, three-day assault on the record book at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena.

When it was over, the Wildcats emerged with their fourth Class 3 state championship in the last five years and a state record-tying 12 medals.

After Thursday’s first round, when the Wildcats won nine of 14 matches and faced several difficult matchups in the quarterfinals, their prospects didn’t look as bright.

“We knew our faith would be tested and it was,” said Neosho head coach Jeremy Phillips. “But we kept striking together and believing it all would work itself out if we controlled the factors within our control — attitude and efforts.”

The Wildcats’ prospects changed in Friday’s first session when they won eight of nine quarterfinal matches.

Four victories in the semifinals Friday night, followed by seven victories in eight matches in the consolation finals early Saturday, set up Neosho for the medal rounds.

Johnathan Williams at 113 pounds and Aaron Clardy at 285 added their names to Neosho’s list of state champions.

“We knew our commitment signified the house built on the rock,” Phillips said.

“The character and the heart of these young men is unquestionable. As a coaching staff, we knew that this family was capable of being one of the best state teams to date.... And the results speak for themselves.”

The 12 state medals broke the previous school record of nine medals, and the Wildcats set a school record for points scored.

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