Hornet avenges December decision loss with 2:47 pin of Moberly foe in Class 2 state tournament's 182-pounds championship semifinals Friday night. CHS' Keithley and Boyles eliminated one win shy of medal
COLUMBIA, Mo. — The goal Chillicothe High School wrestler Kayde Burton has had fixed in his mind for more than a year now is within his reach. Saturday evening, he’ll try to grasp it.
The third-place finisher at 182 pounds in the 2017 Missouri Class 2 state championships and defeated in that tourney only in the championship semifinals, Burton made clear after last year’s third-place bout that he intended to do everything he could to stand on the top step of the 2018 medals podium.
If he can conquer once-beaten Wade Hahn of Ste. Genevieve Saturday, that’s precisely where the Hornet will stand.
After focusing throughout last spring, summer, and fall on his wrestling goal – maintaining his weight in the vicinity of 190 pounds, rather than adding bulk to function in the same interior blocking role he’d had as a CHS football player in his junior year and then try to lose it through the early stages of the wrestling campaign, Burton reached the doorstep of his destination Friday by dramatically flipping the script on an opponent to whom he had lost decisively two months earlier.
Matched against fellow senior Kyler Guthrie of Moberly, who – like Hahn – entered his bout against Burton with only one setback this season, the Chillicothean suffered his semifinal bout’s first takedown about 40 seconds into the action. However, Guthrie, who had decisioned Burton 9-2 in mid-December at Moberly, could not keep him on the mat or under control for the entire remaining 1:20 of the period, according to a statistical scoring summary online. Almost exactly a minute after Guthrie got the takedown, Burton (49-4) slipped free, leaving him trailing only 2-1 going to the second segment.
The CHS standout made the choice for starting position for the second 2-minutes period. Not surprisingly, he opted to be on his knees in the defensive or “down” position. From there, he turned the bout his way.
Less than a half-minute into period No. 2, Burton escaped Guthrie’s control once more, tying the score. Very soon, the Hornet would literally and figuratively make his move.
As the two grapplers stalked each other, looking for an opening for the next takedown, over the course of the next 10 seconds, it was the Chillicothean would spied his opening and took ultimate advantage of it.
About 15 seconds after his escape, Burton lunged in and gained his first – and only – takedown of the battle, putting him ahead on the scoreboard 4-2. However, he quickly made the scoreboard irrelevant.
In taking Guthrie to the mat, Burton not only gained control, but, almost in one motion, turned the Spartan to his back and covered him. Forcing both shoulder blades to the mat simultaneously for a second, Burton drew the referee’s slap of the hand on the mat which signalled he’d done more than score “back” points for a near-fall, but had, in fact, won by fall after 2:47 and was bound for the championship bout.
In defeating Guthrie, Burton had followed the path trod by a teammate a year earlier in hopes of duplicating that ex-Hornet’s ultimate state feat.
Last year, Chase Minnick’s path through the state tourney to the 132-pounds title included avenging one of his prior three losses of the regular season. Now that Burton has done the same, he’ll try to also repeat both Minnick’s top-rung finish and season wins total of 50.
Standing in his way in Saturday evening’s approximately 6 p.m. bout in the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Mizzou Arena is Hahn, whose 1-loss mark thus far in 2017-18 comes with an asterisk.
Whether by health or other reason, the Ste. Genevieve senior has wrestled only 14 bouts this season after going 43-1 and taking third place at 195 pounds in 2016-17.
Friday night, he had a tougher time reaching the title bout than Burton, going all the way into overtime before taking down Dawson Brandt of Eldon in the first extra minute to gain a 4-2 “sudden-victory” triumph.
Hahn, his district’s champion – like Burton, opened the state tourney with a quick win by fall, but then barely decisioned a Fulton foe with a very good, but much-more-modest, record than the Hornet by a 5-3 margin in Friday morning’s quarterfinal.
By contrast, Burton now has pinned all three of his state-tourney foes in less than 7-1/2 cumulative minutes. Hahn, on the other hand, has battled for more than 13 total minutes in his three bouts.
Should Burton prevail Saturday, Chillicothe High will have state champions in consecutive years for the first time since all-time great Wyatt Pickering went back-to-back in 1998-99.
The Hornets have not had separate wrestlers win titles in consecutive years ever. The only other instance of titles being won successively was when Bryan Anderson won in both 1989-90.
While Friday night already was assured of not being Burton’s last of the season – he already was certain of advancing to Saturday’s finals, either in the first-, third-, or fifth-place bouts, the story was different for the other two CHS Hornets who still were active in the state event.
Unfortunately for both senior Zack Boyles and freshman Connor Keithley, their bids for a first-ever state medal came up tantalizingly short.
First, at 113 pounds, Keithley fell to Adam Hellebusch of Washington: St. Francis Borgia 5-3. Shortly thereafter, at 120, Boyles lost by fall to Tucker McWilliam of Oak Grove in the first minute of his consolation “wrestleback” third-round duel.
Keithley (40-12) kept his bout scoreless through the 1-minute first period, then started the scoring not quite a minute into the second by escaping from the “down” position he’d chosen to start the frame.
The 1-0 lead held until, with about 20 seconds left in the second period, Hellebusch both took him down and got him to his back long enough to earn three near-fall points and a sudden 5-1 lead.
That was all the scoring the Knight would need.
Keithley, with Hellebusch having opted to open the third with both wrestlers on their feet, finally managed his first takedown with about a half-minute remaining. Still behind by two points, he had little choice but to try to turn the Borgia foe to his back, given the short remaining time.
Although warned once for stalling, the St. Francis Borgia senior was able to “run out the clock” and move on to Saturday’s consolation semifinals.
At 120 pounds, McWilliam followed up his technical-fall win over Boyles (30-20) during the district tournament a week before by pinning the CHS senior after only 47 seconds.