COLUMBIA, Mo. – Dayton Boyd executed the biggest reversal of his high school career Friday to earn the dream opportunity of wrestling for a state championship.
Once the Farmington senior returned to compete for the ultimate prize, he promptly went on the attack and etched his name among the elite within a decorated program.
Boyd scored a 9-4 decision against Sam Melton of Carl Junction to stand atop the Class 3 podium at 113 pounds Saturday night during the MSHSAA state meet at Mizzou Arena.
The victory gave the Knights their first individual champion since current Maryville University wrestler Austin Wadlow in 2019, and solidified a sixth-place team result.
Boyd (47-2) nearly sealed the title early on, thanks to a pivotal initial takedown and three-point near fall that created 5-0 lead before the first period concluded.
He gained further separation with a reversal after choosing the down position, and added two escapes to thwart a reversal and third-period takedown by Melton.
Boyd capped his final varsity season on a 28-match win streak since sustaining his only losses this season to out-of-state opponents at the prestigious Kansas City Stampede two months ago.
His tournament began smoothly with consecutive first-period falls, followed by the dramatic 3-2 triumph in the semifinal round after reversing Nate Martin of Clayton with only three seconds to spare.
Valle Catholic senior Josh Bieser equaled his runner-up showing from last year in Class 1 boys action, while North County standout Brooke Bennett notched third place in girls competition.
The Ste. Genevieve boys hauled away three medals and stacked up 10th among teams in Class 2 behind strong performances from Gavin Gross, Ryan Schmelzle and Ethan Ogden.
Farmington was bolstered in the team chase by five total state medalists. Senior Drew Felker and freshman Presley Johnson each placed fourth while Blake Cook and Trace Dunlap landed fifth.
Cook (132) likewise reached the podium for a second straight year after earning state runner-up status as a junior. He bounced back from a 5-1 loss to Kyshin Isringhausen of Branson earlier Saturday to shut out final opponent Warren Fielder of Pacific in a 16-0 technical fall. Cook finished with a 45-7 record.
Another member of the talented Farmington senior class, Felker (152) ended with a loss by fall to Trent Reece of Neosho, but not before reaching the third-place match with a 7-4 win over Daryn Langford of Kearney.
Johnson (120) served notice for the future during his debut varsity season, posting a 42-12 record that ended in a 4-2 loss to Tristen Essig of Hannibal after rolling past Tanner Davidson of Marshfield 9-1.
Dunlap (145) also experienced a breakthrough season at 31-8, and finished strong with a fall just eight seconds into the third period after dropping an earlier 9-1 major decision.
Bieser proved himself as the current standard bearer for a fairly young Valle Catholic program after drawing within one step of conquering the Class 1 state bracket yet again at 152 pounds.
The final roadblock to a potential title came from Brendin Patrick of Butler, who completed his perfect 30-0 campaign with a 7-0 shutout. Bieser (47-3) carried momentum into championship night following his convincing 10-2 major against Andon Allen of Gallatin in the semifinals.
Bennett established herself as the dominant female wrestler from the region throughout the winter, and turned her second consecutive state medal into a substantial upgrade.
Bounced from the 194-pound semifinals by undefeated returning state champion Catherine Dutton of Springfield Central, Bennett still improved from sixth last year to third this time.
She began Saturday with an eventual and hard-fought 11-9 decision over Mariyah Brumley of Lebanon, then pinned Abigail Chandler of Northwest in their finale at exactly three minutes to finish 26-2 overall.
Gross (132) narrowly missed the podium last year for the Ste. Genevieve boys, but delivered their best result of the weekend by taking third after overcoming an early-season injury.
He advanced through the consolation bracket with a 12-5 decision following a 11-4 semifinal defeat, and edged Grant VanHorn of Mexico 1-0 for a 23-6 final mark.
Schmelzle (285) salvaged fifth among Class 2 heavyweights, and bumped his record to 35-7 after pinning Jasper DeGraffenreid of Eldon at 2:49.
Ogden wound up sixth for the Dragons at 170 pounds following losses by fall and technical fall on the final day. He previously reached the semifinal round via back-to-back falls.
Ste. Genevieve arrived at the tournament with 12 state qualifiers on the boys side, three of whom fell one victory shy of achieving a medal result.
Evan Winters (138) halted a 39-9 season with a 9-2 loss on Friday. Bryant Schwent (113) was pinned in his third match of the day, and Levi Wiegand (152) was eliminated 4-2 by overtime takedown.
Farmington carried seven wrestlers into the second day of competition. Nate Schnur (138) won a pair of consolation matches before bowing out, while Ethan Turner (160) closed with a 3-0 loss.
Joseph Flieg and Kaden Gegg of Valle Catholic, Austin Hassell of Central, Mason Lay of North County and Potosi teammates Aden Martinez and Levi Courtney lost their final bouts by fall on Friday.
Martinez lacked one victory to ascend the podium. Courtney and Flieg each wrapped 39-win seasons for their respective schools.
Bennett was among six girls to qualify from the Parkland, but the only one to place. Sophomore teammate Belle White, Central senior Karlee LaChance and Potosi sophomore Allison Missey ended their runs on Thursday.
Ste. Genevieve standout Izzy Basler (125) avoided elimination with a 6-4 decision before being pinned by Halea Bartel of Lebanon later on Friday.
Central sophomore and first-year wrestler Madison Young (105) dropped a couple of falls after winning her opening-round contest.