By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Seneca won the Class 1 district wrestling championship at Versailles with a strong showing in the finals.
Seneca, ranked No. 2 in Class 1 behind Whitfield, won the team trophy with 180 points, 8.5 more than second-place Holden. Blair Oaks was third. Seneca went into the finals trailing Holden by a point.
“We sat down and had a team meeting and wanted to concentrate and wrestle to our ability,” Seneca head coach Jeff Sill said. “We knew if we wrestled to our ability, the team championship would take care of itself.”
The Indians were led by district champion Jesse Rhoades at 132, who pinned fourth-ranked Ely Roberts of Versailles in the third period for first place. Roberts came into the match with a record of 34-5.
“Jesse wrestled really well, but we had 11 kids in the tournament and all 11 scored points. It took all 11 of them. What we achieved as a team in winning that title was amazing. Jesse stepped up and wrestled really tough.”
Rhoades qualified for the finals with a major decision against Jordan Seiz of Holden in the quarterfinals and an 8-4 decision over Michael Lopez of Adrian in the semifinals.
Jalen Skaggs at 160 and Will Roark at 120 won individual titles, while Cole Lankford at 126 dropped an 8-2 decision to Ryan Strope of Fatima in a matchup of the top two ranked wrestlers in their weight class.
“Cole gave it everything he had,” Sill said. “This is the first time we saw this kid. I think we picked up some things and some things we’ll change the next time we see him.”
Quentin Cotten at 113 was pinned in the third period of his quarterfinal match by Nathan Long of Versailles, but pinned his next two opponents and took third place with a 4-0 decision over Long.
Dylan West at 195 and Devin Madison at 220 also won their third-place matches.
“We didn’t want to have to rely on someone else winning a match. We wanted to win the tournament outright,” Sill said. “After Dylan West pinned his guy, that pretty much sealed the deal, then Devin Madison put a cherry on top of it.”
Jeff Butler qualified for the state tournament with a 2-0 decision over Derek Scott of Sherwood in the consolation semifinals. He placed fourth.
“In the 14 matches where it determines whether you go to state or not, we won 12 of those and nine of those were by fall,” Sill said. “We knew we had to make up for our lack of bodies at some weight classes with bonus points, and that’s what we did.
“Those two pins by Dakota Schick (at 285) were big. Everybody contributed. We shined together.”
Jordan Douglas of Diamond placed third with a technical fall over Brad Thomas of Blair Oaks. Douglas was pinned by Auston Gerth of Holden in the first round of his 145-pound semifinal match, but advanced to the third-place match by pinning Ryan Bond of Springfield Catholic in the second period.
Diamond’s Ethan King at 106 missed qualifying for the state tournament when he was decisioned by Dalton Schmidt of Versailles 2-1 in the consolation semifinals.
At Clinton, Monett won the district championship behind individual champions Sean Jastal at 106, Chase Brennan at 113 and Matt Wentz at 182.
The Cubs scored 166.5 points, 19 points more than second-place Pleasant Hill. Bolivar was third and Nevada was fifth.
“We did really well in the final round. We won six of seven matches,” said Monett head coach Daryl Bradley. “We had a three-point lead going into the finals. We set ourselves up really well for state next weekend.”
Monett’s other state qualifiers are Devon Overall at 195, who placed second, and Kedrick Brink at 120, Dominick Witherow at 145 and Wesley Abramovitz at 170, who placed third.
“We had 13 wrestlers out of 14 win matches,” Bradley said. “Matt Wentz really took care of business in the semifinals (a 7-1 decision over Jacob Randle of Pleasant Hill) and ended up pinning his guy (Austin Stickles of Marshall) in the finals.”
Jastal won the championship with a pin in the second period against Dayton Miller of Nevada, who is ranked No. 2 in Class 2. “He wrestled outstanding,” Bradley said. “I can’t say enough about our total team effort. We had wins up and down the lineup.”
Nevada’s Slade Stiles at 120 and Sam Ellifrits at 285 won individual championships. The Tigers also qualified Miller at 106 and Colby Smith at 220 for the state tournament.