Abigail Jastal isn’t the same wide-eyed wrestler she was last season when she competed at the MSHSAA state tournament for the first time.
This year, the Monett senior means business.
“She’ll be a scary draw for anyone,” Monett coach Justin Semerad said. “She’s been here before and knows what it takes to be successful on this stage. There’s a mental hurdle that comes with competing at the state tournament for the first time. She struggled a bit with that last year, but this year has been a different story. She’s as steady as ever.”
And “steady” might even be putting it lightly.
Jastal is in the midst of a breakout senior campaign with a 38-3 record and a No. 1 seed heading into the third-ever Missouri girls state wrestling tournament, which is slated for March 9 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, Mo. With a first-round bye, she can become Monett’s first state placer in girls program history with just one win.
“If she wrestles at her ability and her mentality is sharp like it’s been, I really believe she’ll be our first state placer,” Semerad said. “How high that goes? It’s hard to tell. I think our goal is always going in and winning the weekend, whether we’re talking about winning a tournament in December or winning the state tournament in March.”
The younger sibling of former Monett boys state placer Sean Jastal, Abigail has yet to lose a match this season since dropping to the 107-pound weight class. All three of her losses came at the 112- and 117-pound weights when she was giving up anywhere from five to eight pounds to her opponents.
Jastal’s most recent outing saw her go 3-0 with three pins at the MSHSAA Girls Sectional 3 Tournament at Harrisonville High School. She claimed her sectional title with a second-period fall over Blue Springs South sophomore Gabby Hampton.
“She had a smile on her face all day,” Semerad said. “”Last year when she was trying to qualify for state, you could tell by the look on her face how nervous she was. But I think nerves are a thing of the past for her. Now, she’s chasing down her goals and having fun while doing it.”
Here’s a look at a few other girls state qualifiers in the area:
Josey Crisp, Diamond 112-pound junior
The past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for the Diamond standout.
Just days after the passing of her mother, Crisp took to the mat at the Sectional 3 tournament and shocked many with a feat that won’t soon be forgotten. Despite entering the weekend as a 4-seed out of District 5, she went on to upset a 1-seed and a 2-seed to make the finals and clinch a top-two finish, making her the first girls wrestling state qualifier in Diamond history.
Her first win came against Harrisonville junior Alana Lopez, who was 36-3 at the time. Crisp jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first period and later picked up a third-period fall to advance to the semifinals.
“You could see she was physically upset in her match,” Diamond coach Bill Gray said. “In the first period against Lopez, she was run off the mat and you could see in her face she was trying to fight off tears.
“After the match, she was excited that she had won. But by the time she got to me ... the emotions just overcame her again. So it was definitely an emotional day with several highs and lows, but she battled through something that many people wouldn’t even want to imagine. It took amazing strength to do what she did.”
Crisp later logged a first-period fall over Marshfield’s Rozalyn Richerson in the semifinals and ended up finishing runner-up behind Cassville standout Annie Moore. She’ll be a 2-seed at the state tournament.
Annie Moore, Cassville 112-pound sophomore
Perhaps one of the top title contenders in the area, Moore is a two-time state qualifier after going 3-0 with three falls at the sectional tournament. Two of her falls came in the first period before she recorded a third-period pin over Crisp in the finals.
Moore has 31 wins in 32 matches this season. She’s one of four state qualifiers for Cassville, which is also sending two-time qualifier Kailey Artherton (122), Hailey Roark (132) and Faith James (137) to this year’s state meet.
Isabella Renfro, Seneca 174-pound freshman
The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
The daughter of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M head wrestling coach Joe Renfro, Isabella has put together a standout freshman campaign at Seneca after clinching a No. 1 state seed at this past weekend’s sectional tournament.
Isabella entered the sectional tourney as a 3-seed but managed to go 3-0, earning a first-period fall over Bolton’s Reina Morton in the quarterfinals, edging Marshfield’s Kiana Massie 8-7 in the semifinals and then pinning Raymore-Peculiar’s Cayley Maynard in the finals.
Isabella takes a 32-8 record into the state tournament.
Claire Pritchett, Nevada 235-pound junior
After becoming the first girls wrestling state placer in Nevada history a season ago, Pritchett is within striking distance of becoming the school’s first two-time placer.
Pritchett is 31-2 on the year after claiming third place at the sectional tournament over the weekend. She’s a 3-seed heading into the state meet, but don’t worry, because she was a 4-seed last year when she went 3-3 at state to clinch her first podium finish.