The Seneca Indians are set up as well as they could be heading into the sectional round of the 2021 wrestling postseason.
The Indians will have a full team competing at the Class 2 Sectional 3 tournament, which they’ll be hosting when the event kicks off on Saturday at Seneca High School.
“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position by qualifying guys at all 14 weights, and the fact that we’ll be the host team makes it that much better,” Seneca coach Jeff Sill said. “It’s nice that we’ll be able to sleep in our own beds and get after it.”
All 14 starters for Seneca placed top-four at their respective weight classes as the Indians ran away with the team title at the Class 2 District 5 tournament at Monett High School on Feb. 13. Seneca, which placed fifth as a team at the Class 2 state tournament a year ago, had 11 finalists and six individual champions on the day.
This year’s prep postseason features a different format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wrestlers who placed top-four in the district round qualified for the sectional round, where they’ll have to place top-three in order to qualify for the state tournament in Independence in early March.
“It’s new territory,” Sill said. “We’ve never had to wrestle a sectional where the top three placers get to advance. It’s new, and this will be a tough tournament. But we’ve wrestled in tough tournaments all season long. So I think our kids will be prepared.”
And it very well could be the most difficult sectional in Class 2. The tournament will feature title-contending teams such as Seneca, defending team state champion Monett and Pleasant Hill. Pleasant Hill and Seneca are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, by MissouriWrestling.com.
“Pleasant Hill is a very strong team, as well as teams like Monett, Osage, Harrisonville, Nevada and Eldon,” Sill said. “So it’s a very tough sectional. We knew that going into it, and now we just have to go out and compete.”
Headlining Seneca’s cast of sectional qualifiers are six No. 1 seeds in Brady Roark (106-pound weight class), Kendon Pollard (126), Andrew Manley (132), Clayton Swadley (145), Gabriel Commons (170) and Zane Cotten (195).
Monett will be represented by eight wrestlers in the sectional. Five are No. 1 seeds in Karey Anderson (113), Elias Barrientos (152), Corbin McCully (160), Ethan Umfleet (182) and Harrison Merriman (285).
Nevada has seven sectional qualifiers and a pair of top seeds in Kynndrick Brooks (106) and Skylur Mashek (285).
Zach Coenen is a No. 1 seed at the 220-pound weight class and is one of six sectional qualifiers for Cassville.
CLASS 4 SECTIONAL 3
Carthage and Joplin have 11 and six wrestlers, respectively, qualified for Saturday’s Class 4 Sectional 3 tournament at Ozark High School.
Leading the way for Carthage are a pair of No. 1 seeds in Davion King (145) and Luke Gall (182). The Tigers are coming off a runner-up showing at the Class 4 District 5 tournament, where they finished 4 1/2 points behind team champion Ozark.
Sam Melton is a No. 2 seed at the 106-pound weight class for Joplin, which also has sectional qualifiers in Josiah Vaughn (132), Gunner Price (285), Rocky Walker (126), Drew VanGilder (170) and Scott Lowe (195).
CLASS 3 SECTIONAL 3
Defending Class 3 team state champion Neosho, seeking a 10th state title in 12 seasons, has 12 wrestlers qualified for Saturday’s Class 3 Sectional 3 tournament at Willard High School.
The Wildcats will boast nine top-seeded wrestlers in Raymond Hembree (106), Landon Kivett (120), Hayden Crane (132), Eli Zar (145), Trent Neece (152), three-time state champion Cayden Auch (160), Eric Holt (170), defending state champion Jeremiah Larson (195) and Jacob Fry (220).
Neosho is coming off a first-place showing at the Class 3 District 6 tournament at Carl Junction High School.
Carl Junction will also be represented by 12 wrestlers at this weekend’s sectional tournament. Defending state champion Jesse Cassatt headlines the group as a No. 1 seed at the 182-pound weight class.
McDonald County has seven sectional qualifiers as well as a pair of No. 1 seeds in Blaine Ortiz (113) and Jayce Hitt (285), while Webb City has six qualifiers.
CLASS 1 SECTIONAL 2
Headlining Diamond’s group of seven sectional qualifiers will be top seeds Cody Behler (152), Landon Clement (182) and Tyler May (220).
Diamond will compete in the Class 1 Sectional 2 tournament at Versailles High School this Saturday.
Other Sectional qualifiers for Diamond include Brandon Calentine (145), Brayden Pelt (106), Ty Douglas (195) and Cody Neal (126).