By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
COLUMBIA — Chillicothe High School Hornets wrestlers Kyler Sewell and Aaron Baker began their competition in the 2013 Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) Class 2 State Championships on a positive note late this morning, as did Ethan Crowe of Class 1 Southwest Livingston.
Each gained a victory by decision – Baker's a major one and Crowe's by pin – to advance to tomorrow (Friday) morning's championship quarterfinals. Should either or both be triumphant there, they would move on to Friday night's championship semifinals and be assured of state medals. A loss Friday morning would send either one to the consolation wrestlebacks where they would have to win twice to clinch a medal.
Sewell, last year's fifth-place finisher at 113 pounds, debuted in this year's 120-pounds class with an 8-4 conquest of Reid Hanmore of St. Charles. The Chillicothean trailed briefly in the first minute of the second period, but tied it 15 seconds later with a reversal and took the lead for good 12 seconds into the third period when he escaped. A takedown and 3-points near-fall within the first minute of the third and last segment put Sewell in command.
In his quarterfinals bout Friday, Sewell (37-10) will go against senior Slade Stiles of Nevada (45-2), who finished two slots ahead of him among last year's 113-pounds medalists, but they never met on the mat.
Stiles won his opening bout today by a pin in 28 seconds.
Baker also fell behind in his 132-pounds opener against Michael Clark of Park Hills: Central, but took the lead at mid-match with an escape that snapped a 5-5 tie and went on to score the last nine points of the bout to earn a 14-5 major decision.
The Hornets freshman got behind 2-0 25 seconds in, but came back to lead 3-2 after a minute. The bout was knotted 3-3 after one period.
A Baker reverse 20 seconds into the second period restored him to the lead, but Clark quickly returned the favor to tie it again. A half-minute later, the CHS grappler escaped and, at about 3:10, took Clark down for the second time to boost his lead to 8-5.
Late in the second stanza, Baker got Clark to his back long enough for a 3-points near-fall and an 11-5 advantage headed to the last frame.
The third period was scoreless for the first 90 seconds with Baker working from on top. With about 15-20 seconds left in the bout, he again put the Park Hills: Central man on his back again for another three points to boost him to the major-decision margin.
Baker (34-7) will go against Levi Hopkins (37-8), a Bolivar sophomore, in Friday morning's quarterfinal. Hopkins won by an 8-2 decision in the first round today.
Page 2 of 2 - Southwest Livingston's outstanding junior Ethan Crowe also prevailed in his Class 1 opening-round bout Thursday morning, defeating Steven Sandler of Brentwood by fall in 1:23.
The unbeaten Crowe (31-0), last year's 170-pounds fourth-place finisher, will go against John Melton of Adrian, who pinned his opening opponent at 4:57.