COLUMBIA, Mo. – A crucial second takedown in the first period gave Austin Wadlow the luxury of protecting a broader three-point advantage while still looking to pounce on any mistake.
The junior capitalized on his aggressive start, and became the latest member of the decorated Farmington wrestling program to capture an individual state championship.
Wadlow edged Willard junior Michael Finley 4-3 in the Class 3 title bout at 113 pounds on Saturday, capping a tremendous return in his second appearance at Mizzou Arena.
An injury prevented Wadlow from competing for any postseason honors last winter, but his comeback story could not have ended more favorably – or with higher drama.
Following a narrow 3-2 win in the semifinal round, Wadlow needed only 27 seconds to collect his opening points against Finley. He built a 4-1 lead on a scoring single-leg attack.
Neither man scored during the second period as Wadlow operated from the down position. But Finley was awarded a penalty point when Wadlow was called for stalling on top in the third.
Although Finley pulled to within one by wriggling his ankle free on an escape with 30 seconds left in the bout, Wadlow blocked any threat from there to secure the victory and finish with a 36-6 record.
Central sophomore Kade Willis and Ste. Genevieve sophomore Kaylee Gross saw their aspirations for perfect seasons end in heart-breaking fashion during their respective state finals.
Willis carried the momentum of a semifinal major decision into battle with Matthew Bahl of Monett with the Class 2 crown in the 126-pound division at stake.
Willis, who placed fifth as a freshman, sought gold this time and grabbed an immediate 2-0 lead via takedown just 17 seconds in. He regained a 3-2 edge by escaping early in the third period.
Bahl seized an opportunity to strike in crunch time, however, and scored his lone takedown with 25 seconds remaining to claim the title in a 4-3 outcome.
Willis punctuated his season at 42-1 overall. The victory for Bahl only increased the dominance within Class 2 of Monett, which earned the team championship by a 36-point margin over Bolivar.
Ste. Genevieve had plenty of reasons to celebrate after producing seven individual medalists overall plus a team trophy in the inaugural year of girls wrestling sanctioned by MSHSAA.
Top-four results from Genevieve Nickelson, Maggie Myracle and Gross helped the ladies pile up enough points for third place in the team standings.
The achievement was magnified since all school sizes were grouped into a single class, due to smaller rosters and a fewer number of participating programs.
Gross was locked in a second clash of unbeaten standouts within her 152-pound division, and finished runner-up after pushing Brooke-Lynn Rush of Benton to the wire.
Rush shined with falls in her two previous bouts, and moved her record to 22-0 with a slim 6-5 triumph while Gross narrowly slipped to 19-1.
Myracle (14-3) emerged with third place for the Dragons in her bracket on Saturday, following up a 13-11 overtime victory with an emphatic fall at the 2:17 mark.
Nickelson (23-4) clinched her medal at 131 pounds with a second-period fall, and ended up fourth after being pinned by Abbey Cordia of Osage.
Ste. Genevieve placed 11th in the Class 3 boys’ chase. Dalton McNeal (113), Clayton Vaughn (285), Grant Staffen (145) and Jacob Dickens (132) reached the podium from an original crew of nine qualifiers.
McNeal finished fourth after first advancing with a 5-1 decision, while Vaughn ended his varsity career with a second-period fall during a fifth-place match.
Staffen dropped a couple of 3-1 decisions, and Dickens suffered a fall and decision to place sixth after both had eclipsed the 40-win plateau earlier in the weekend.
Wadlow was among three Farmington performers to reach their first state awards podium, including senior Dalton Berg at 220 pounds.
Berg (39-5) left no doubt Saturday while powering through two opponents for a third-place result. He pinned Justin Mowry of St. Charles at 3:00 flat before downing Evan Bargee of Fort Zumwalt South 11-2.
Claira Wampler became the first female state medalist for the Knights behind a clinching 3-2 win before losing the third-place bout 5-0.
Lebanon landed the historic girls team championship with Lafayette (Wildwood) six points off the pace.
Multiple state qualifiers from Potosi, North County and Valle Catholic were eliminated by the conclusion of Friday’s consolation action.
Saturday Match Results:
Boys Class 3
113 – Austin Wadlow (36-6); State Champion
Won by dec over Michael Finley (Willard), 4-3
220 – Dalton Berg (39-5); Third Place
Won by fall over Justin Mowry (St. Charles), 3:00
Won by maj dec over Evan Bargee (Ft. Zumwalt South), 11-2
Boys Class 2
126 – Kade Willis (42-1); Second Place
Lost by fall to Matthew Bahl (Monett), 4-3
113 – Dalton McNeal (36-12); Fourth Place
Won by dec over Canyon Cunningham (Bolivar), 5-1
Lost by maj dec to Jackson Caswell (Fulton), 8-0
132 – Jacob Dickens (42-11); Sixth Place
Lost by dec to Dalton Thompson (St. Clair), 6-1
Lost by fall to Damon Ashworth (Excelsior Springs), 0:42
145 – Grant Staffen (40-13); Sixth Place
Lost by dec to Bryce Palmer (Odessa), 3-1
Lost by dec to Blake Howard (Kirksville), 3-1
285 – Clayton Vaughn (39-17); Fifth Place
Lost by dec to Caleb Longobardi (Nevada), 4-3
Won by fall over Tristan Brown (Sullivan), 3:25
143 – Claira Wampler (14-5); Fourth place
Won by dec over Kali Butts (Smith-Cotton), 3-2
Lost by dec to Jazzmine Seely (Waynesville), 5-0
131 – Genevieve Nickelson (23-4); Fourth place
Won by fall over Kaylie Dow (Plattsburg), 3:23
Lost by fall to Abbey Cordia (Osage), 4:07
152 – Kaylee Gross (19-1); Second Place
Lost by dec to Brooke-Lynn Rush (Benton), 6-5
187 – Maggie Myracle (14-3); Third place
Won by dec over Geraldine Flores (Ritenour), 13-11 SV
Won by fall over Mickey Seely (Oak Park), 2:17