by Michelle Nelson, 12

On February 21st, our Bulldog State Wrestling team traveled up to Columbia to compete at Mizzou Arena on the 22nd and the 23rd for the MSHSAA State Wrestling Championship. The state qualifiers that were going to be competing were seniors Blayze McCullough, 138,  Montana Hacker, 285, and Wyatt VanGordon, 157, juniors Lizzie Henderson, 135, and Matthew Esparza, 215, sophomores Kaiden Conard, 100, and Blake Esparza, 165, and freshman Aleah Conard, 105.

Our school took 8 wrestlers to State, 5 boys and 3 girls, which is the most in our wrestling programs history. This is also the most girls we’ve ever taken to state in girls wrestling history (we have already taken 5 boys to state before, so we just tied with the previous record). Throughout this entire State trip there have been so many firsts in program history.

At State, the boys team placed 23rd out of 47 teams. This is tied with our highest placing in the programs history. While at State, each of the 5 boys wrestled hard on the first day, giving it their all. Although, only three boys make it to day 2, hoping to earn medals.

The boys that made it to day 2 were Montana Hacker, Blayze McCullough, and Blake Esparza. Montana lost his first match of the day meaning that he was finished, placing in the top 8 of the state. Blayze and Blake both won their bubbles matches, meaning that they were for sure going to win a medal at state. The next matches they had to wrestle were the 4th round of wrestlebacks, which determined if they were going to wrestle for 3rd or 5th place. Both of these boys fell in their wrestle back match, meaning they were both going to wrestle for 5th place. Blake Esparza won his medal match, placing 5th in the state. Blayze McCullough didn’t quite make it in his medal match, but still placed 6th in the state and received a medal. These two boys become our programs 2nd and 3rd state medalists in history.

On the girls side, they placed 13th as a team out of 86 teams, which is the highest our girls have placed at State in program history. While at State, all three girls fought hard on day one but only two girls survived to day two.

Aleah Conard and Lizzie Henderson both move on to day two. Aleah starts her day with a bubble match, which she wins, and moves on to the 4th round of wrestlebacks to determine if she’s wrestling for 3rd or 5th places. Lizzie won her first match, making her 3-0 at State so far, putting her in the State finals. Lizzie has become the first girl in program history to make it to the Championship Match at state (which wasn’t much of a shock because she was our girls first District Champion). Aleah won her wrestleback match, meaning that she will be wrestling for 3rd or 4th place. Aleah also won her medal match, putting her at 3rd place in the State. This made Aleah only the 4th person in Bulldog Wrestling history to come home from state with a medal.

Lizzie Henderson lost her finals match, but still placed 2nd in the state. She lost to Mid-Buchanan with a score of 0-8, but wants everyone to know that she did not get pinned. In this one match, Lizzie was the first girl to wrestle in the finals match, only the second person to win a second place medal, and the 5th person to place at state from our wrestling program.

Overall, our Bulldog Wrestling brought home four medals from State, which is also the most in program history. Coach Daniel Stantorf is so insanely proud of all of these wrestlers. “If you’ve seen any of our facebook posts throughout the year you’ve seen several hashtags that probably didn’t make much senze to you, but were mottos to us. Catch Greatness, Build Your House, Process Drivem, and Battle Tested. None of these four wrestlers were expected to get on the podium this year, but they were battle tested process driven and they built their house everything they stepped on the mat, they trusted the process and they caught greatness. We couldn’t be more proud of these guys and the accomplishments they have made this year.”