Wrestlers step up to the challenges


Ally Wenberg

Senior Deric Flores attempts to turn his opponent during the Clinton tri-tournament. The tournament was held on Jan. 16.

  As the wrestling season is progressing there are many milestones being reached and goals checked off of bucket lists. This wrestling season will be remembered as the season of taking risks. This was a season of branching out of comfort zones, college signings and overcoming fears.

  Senior Autumn Long can speak on the branching out of comfort zones aspect of the sport. Being the only female on the team comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Girl’s high school wrestling set new records again in the United States, showing a growth in participation for the 29th straight year. According to USA Wrestling, there were 16,562 girl participants in 2017-2018, an increase of 1,975 athletes from the year before. This was a healthy 13.5 percent increase in participation. The number of schools reporting girls wrestling grew to 2,351, an increase of 260 schools

  This is the first season since the Missouri High School Athletic Association established girls wrestling as a sex-separate sport. Long recently stopped wrestling due to her work schedule, but she had fun learning about the sport and participating.

  She wrestled against four or five girls during the season, but did not gain any wins. She said her motivation to stick with the sport would have been stronger if she had started building the skills needed for the sport earlier in her high school career. As a senior, she did not have enough time to develop the skills necessary to be successful in the sport.

  “I would love to see more girls try it next year. I have had a great experience and it is challenging, but the challenge is well worth it, so I try my hardest to spread the word that it would be awesome to see more ladies,” Long said.      

  This season is one that senior Kolby Estes will never forget. His wrestling will take him to  Campbell University after he graduates in Spring 2019. Estes has taken an interest in wrestling since the young age of four. This interest, stemming from a young age, stayed with him during his college signing on Nov. 30.

  “I made my decision on the right school by taking college visits and weighing out the pros and cons of each school and deciding which one felt right,” Estes said.

  Another milestone reached by Estes this season included his 150th career win. This is a huge accomplishment alone, but on top of the college signing, Estes has had an outstanding last season. This occurred Dec. 20 when the team traveled to Marshall for a tournament against Marshall and Smith-Cotton. Estes received his title of the 150th win after pinning his opponent in a match against Marshall. The team earned their first dual win of the season beating Smith-Cotton 42-36 and came up short against Marshall 36-45.  

  Although the team welcomes all newcomers, it is common to have an apprehension towards taking the risk of joining peers in something that they might be better at or have more experience with. This may be intimidating, but senior Deric Flores says that he was glad he took the risk of quitting basketball – a sport he was familiar with – to join the wrestling team, and says the payoff is worth the rough first few days.

  “I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life because I think I wasn’t putting the skills that I have in the sport that I was in to good use. I’m really happy I made the decision and I’ve had a really good experience so far,” Flores said.

  The team traveled to the Butler tournament on Jan. 5. Wrestling coach Jared Steenburgen says the team wrestled very hard and have earned the top ten team finish. With the results being juniors Delmar Graves (132) and Patrick Surrell (145) both fishishing 6th place, senior Kolby Estes (152) finishing 1st place and sophomore Colby Stephens (285) taking 5th place.

  Stephens says he is proud of his placing and has improved tremendously throughout his freshman and sophomore year.

  “We do this thing at practices called ‘going live,’ which is pretty much just a real match with a lot of technique. I think things like that have helped me to get better in matches against real opponents, that and just always making sure I’m in a weights class and always participating,” Stephens said.

  “The season this far has been a roller coaster. We have had great tournaments, although some tournaments we were not able to leave feeling like we gave it our all, but, through all the highs and lows, I can confidently say that we have some promising athletes on this team and if they continue to work how they have been and take risks like they have been, they can end the season with a bang,” Steenburgen said.

  As for the rest of the season, Districts will be held in Knob Noster on on Feb. 8 with state on the following weekend, Feb. 16. State will be hosted at Mizzou.