MONETT, Mo. — The district tournament has been pretty good to Daryl Bradley and his Monett wrestling squad in recent years.
The trend continued on Saturday as the Cubs clinched the team title in the Class 2 District 3 tournament at Monett High School, giving Monett its fourth district championship in seven seasons and its seventh consecutive top-two finish.
Monett was positioned 6 1/2 points out of first place to start the day but ended with nine top-three finishers and two champions to best runner-up Bolivar 184-173.5.
“I thought we had chances to win more finals matches than what we did, but I think we learned some lessons that will help us out next week at the state tournament,” Bradley said. “I definitely wasn’t disappointed in the way we wrestled. It would have been nice to have more champions, but I think the big thing this week was to just punch your ticket. Our district was really tough, and you’ll see in the results next weekend that a lot of these teams will end up in the top 10.”
Returning state champion Karter Brink and returning runner-up Matthew Bahl headlined Monett’s day with individual titles at the 120- and 126-pound weight class, respectively.
Brink, improving to 47-6 on the season, defeated Ryan Schepers of Osage by a 13-8 decision in the finals while Bahl, moving to 45-7, picked up an 8-0 major decision over Riley Williams of Rogersville in his finals bout.
The Cubs had six finalists in total, with Joseph Semerad (132), Gunnar Bradley (152), Ethan Umfleet (160) and Wesley Merriman (195) each finishing runner-up. Rounding out the nine state qualifiers for Monett were third-place finishers Elias Barrientos (145), Harrison Merriman (220) and Raymond Villalta (285).
“Nine qualifiers was around the number we were thinking heading into the weekend,” Bradley said. “We had eight kids seeded in the top three, so I think we would have felt disappointed if we came away with less than that.
“The cherry on top of it all was Harrison at 220, who was seeded sixth and ended up placing third. He’s a freshman who had won a lot of matches, but he had to beat some tough kids in order to qualify for state this weekend. He really wrestled lights out.”
Monett was close to having a 10th qualifier at 182, but sophomore Dru Guinn saw his run in the consolation bracket come to an end in the bubble rounds as senior Braedon Palmer of Odessa edged him with a 7-5 decision.
“I can go up and down our lineup and tell you about how good I thought our kids wrestled,” Bradley said. “Several of these guys really have come a long way, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they all competed. I think we’re going to learn from some of these little mistakes we encountered this weekend and get better from them. But like I said, the focus for us now is on the kids who will be wrestling for us next weekend. I think we have a chance to do more good things before the season ends.”
Rounding out the top five teams were third-place Odessa (151), fourth-place Rogersville (123) and fifth-place Oak Grove (122.5).
Nevada, which took 11th with 57.5 points, had two individuals qualify for the state tournament in Lane Brooks (113) and Caleb Longobardi (285).
Brooks, who moved to 23-16 by the end of the tourney, pinned Tyler Nance of Reeds Spring in the latter stages of the second period to claim third in his bracket. Longobardi, 46-5, pinned his way to the finals before he was upended by top-seeded Tyler Curd of Oak Grove with a first-period fall.
The 2019 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships will run Thursday through Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.