Host Hornets claimed their 18th, 19th dual-match triumphs of 2017-18 Tuesday, Jan. 30, winning the last five bouts of their dual with Centralia before topping Marceline on CHS' "Senior Night"

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Chillicothe High School’s 2017-18 wrestling Hornets simultaneously honored their senior members, closed out their home slate, and concluded regular-season dual-matches competition in style Tuesday night.
The Hornets won eight contested bouts (out of 14 total bouts) against each opponent as they bested visiting Centralia 47-26 and Marceline 45-32 at the Chillicothe Middle School fieldhouse.
With the pair of triumphs, Chillicothe finished 19-5 in duals this season, just short of being at or above the 20-wins level a third time in four years under the tutelage of head coach Chad Smith and assistants Michael Marriott and Joey Rinehart.
The Hornets will have one more regular-season outing – this Saturday at the Oak Grove Tournament – before the 2-levels postseason competition begins with the Class 2 district tournament at Excelsior Springs Feb. 9-10. Top-4 finishers at district advance to the state tournament at Columbia the following week, Feb. 15-17.
Tuesday night, Chillicothe got its evening off and running with its victory over Centralia, one achieved with a strong finish.
After alternating wins and losses by fall through the first eight bouts to stand tied 24-24 just past the mid-point of the match, the Hornets fell behind for the first time with a close, losing decision at 220 pounds.
However, the deficit was short-lived and, once it was erased, never recurred.
Chillicothe heavyweight Keegan Valdez provided the go-ahead victory, pinning his opponent late in the first period (1:45) to give his team back the lead, 30-27.
When Sheldon Rader followed at 106 pounds with a 12-2 major decision, the Hornets’ margin effectively jumped to a victory-clinching 13 points, since Centralia’s Panthers were open at 113 pounds.
For good measure, Zack Boyles – one of the Chillicothe seniors recognized and honored before the competition – earned an 8-3 decision at 120 pounds and Colton Sewell made ita closing rush of 5-straight Hornets bout wins with a 10-1 major-decision verdict.
Putting the Hornets repeatedly ahead early with wins by pin were Lavery Jones at 132 pounds, Dawson Wheeler at 145, Donald McCracken at 160, and Kayde Burton, another senior, at 182.
McCracken’s sudden triumph might have been the pivotal one.
He and Panthers foe Luke Hunter were in a close battle with little scoring having been done as the bout neared its mid-point. However, just when it seemed like the duel was destined to be tight right down to the final seconds of the six scheduled minutes, McCracken was able to suddenly drag Hunter off his feet and to his back. The Hornets freshman quickly atop him and, after a few seconds, got Hunter’s shoulders flat on the mat simultaneously for a fall at 2:54.
Sophomore Wheeler provided the quickest end to any of the contested bouts in the CHS-CHS dual, closing out his counterpart in 1:07, nine seconds faster than Burton beat his.
In the evening’s finale, Chillicothe adjusted its lineup a bit, eaving two vacancies (138, 145 pounds), but it overcame those giveaway points by winning six times by fall and also receiving one forfeit (at 195 pounds).
Providing one of the half-dozen pins was 152-pounder Kaleb Mullikin. The sophomore middleweight beat his 152-pounds opponent in the first period after 1:44, CHS’ second-quickest triumph of the match behind senior Erek Brose’s 54-seconds victory at 220.
Valdez, Burton, and Jones each gained a second win by fall – Valdez after 2:20, Burton at 3:05 and Jones at 3:14.
Also winning by fall was Sewell in 5:17.
Chillicothe’s non-pin win against Marceline was provided by 113-pounds freshman Connor Keithley. In a great, tense battle with the Tigers’ Cooper Fisher, Keithley had his arm raised after a 1-0 decision.