(UPDATED 1:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, with CHS coach Chad Smith comments) Hornets senior took opening bout by late first-period pin. Classmate Washburn, junior Rader follow round-1 losses with first-period consolation wins by fall Thursday (Feb. 20, 2020). Peniston ousted
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Three Chillicothe High School wrestling Hornets – senior 160-pounder Dawson Wheeler, senior 220-pounder Isaac Washburn, and junior 106-pounder Sheldon Rader – reached the second day of competition in the 2020 Missouri State Championships for Class 2 by posting a win on Thursday’s (Feb. 20) opening day.
Wheeler (26-5) advanced to the championship side of the bracket by pinning Bret Bieser of Ste. Genevieve late in the first period of their opening bout.
He’ll face Chase Cordia (36-1) of Osage in Friday morning’s championship quarterfinals. If he wins that clearly-difficult assignment, he’d be assured of a state medal. A loss would push him to the consolation “wrestlebacks,” where a medal (top-6 finish) would still be a possibility.
Rader and Washburn bounced back from opening-round defeats to win by first-period falls in their consolation-side openers. Each will continue on as long as they continue to win.
Rader’s and Washburn’s second-round consolation bout won’t be known until Friday morning’s championship quarterfinals are completed.
A win by any or all three Friday morning/early-afternoon would advance them to Friday evening’s third session.
“That would be exciting, if we’re wrestling Friday night,” CHS head coach Chad Smith told the C-T in a chat just off the floor of Mizzou Arena after the Hornets’ Thursday competition wrapped up. “Hopefully a couple or three matches, that would be great. And then some Saturday would be good.”
While those state-tournament veterans each captured their first-ever state-level triumphs, first-time qualifier Christian Peniston, a sophomore, was pinned in both of his Thursday bouts to be denied his.
“I thought Sheldon, Isaac, and Dawson wrestled really well and Christian (opposed) two really tough kids,” the Chillicothe coach summarized the first day’s CHS showing. “I thought he gave really great effort, but just couldn’t quite get it done.”
After shrugging out of an early lockup, Wheeler produced the first points and takedown just over a half-minute into his opening-round bout against Bieser, a junior who entered with a 22-20 record.
The CHS middleweight pressed his advantage and turned the Ste. Genevieve grappler far enough to his back to get three near-fall points. Bieser momentarily got off his back, but was quickly returned to it.
With the possibility of Wheeler pinning him at any moment, the lead official had to keep his focus on Bieser’s position, delaying his official signaling of the near-fall points.
Another short spell of having his opponent partially on his back qualified the Chillicothean for a 2-points near-fall on top of the earlier 3-pointer, but again there was no free time to get those reported before Wheeler, for a third time, had his opponent in imminent danger of being pinned.
With time starting to wind down in the 2-minutes first period; but the action in the middle of the circle, Wheeler, lying across Bieser’s left shoulder with his torso, finally got both of his opponent’s shoulder blades on the mat simultaneously. That meant a win by pin after 1:46, making the five pending “back” points moot.
“It was exciting to see him come out and go, because when he will come out and start wrestling early (in a bout) and get on his offense, he’s exciting to watch,” Smith said of Wheeler’s energetic approach and attacking mentality Thursday.
“He can wrestle with anybody when he does those things. He’ll beat a lot of good kids (at state), if he’ll get on his offense and score like he did there. It’s fun to coach him when he’s doing that.”
While Wheeler, after two winless prior journeys to state, seized his first opportunity in 2020 to get his first win, classmate Washburn (32-6) was forced to wait a bit, but got his taste of sweet victory at last.
After dropping his opening-round bout by a mid-final-period fall while trailing 8-2, the Chillicothe light-heavyweight came back with a vengeance in his initial “wrestleback” bout.
He earned a takedown of Potosi freshman Caleb Land (18-23) just over 20 seconds into their 220-pounds elimination bout and polished him off at 43 seconds.
“It was exciting to see him do that and get a pin kind of in front of (where) our crowd (was seated),” commented Smith.
In the opening round, Washburn led Boonville sophomore Peyton Hahn (39-4) 2-0 after one period after getting a takedown inside the final 10 seconds.
However, working from the top position at the start of the second, the Hornet was reversed just over 10 seconds in to tie it. Late in the period, Hahn earned three near-fall points to leave Washburn needing to rally from a 5-2 deficit in the third.
With the combatants starting from the neutral position in the last segment, Washburn was penalized a point for stalling about 30 seconds in, making it 6-2, Hahn. About 20 seconds later, any chance of a comeback virtually vanished when the Boonville Pirate got his first takedown of the bout for an 8-2 lead.
About 15 seconds later, Washburn was twisted to his back and sustained a 4:57 loss by fall.
As a Class 2 106-pounder and being in the top half of that weight division’s bracket, Rader had the distinction of being on the mat when 2020 state tournament action began.
Matched against a 2-losses freshman from traditionally-strong Seneca in deep southwest Missouri, the Hornets lightweight took his bout the full 6-minutes distance in sustaining a 14-5 major-decision defeat.
Rader (32-9), CHS’ top winner for the season entering state by one over Washburn, never was able to score any offensive points, but also avoided yielding any near-fall points to Brady Roark.
Roark produced a half-dozen takedowns, usually quickly whenever the combatants were in the neutral position. Because of his superiority on his feet, Roark voluntarily released Rader four times in order to take him down again for another two points. Roark’s other points came from a reversal seconds after Rader began the third period in the “top” position. Rader did squirm free from his opponent for one of his five escapes.
However, in his second chance, the junior was a whirling dervish, completing his bout and extending his stay to a second day in less than a minute.
Rader (33-9) took down Diego McCormick of Potosi in the first five seconds and never let him up, winning by fall at 32 seconds.
“That kid from Seneca he had in the first round, I thought he wrestled him really tough,” Smith favorably assessed Rader’s performance.
“…Second match, he came out on his offense, same thing (as Wheeler). Shot (lunged in for a legs takedown) right away, got a lead, didn’t mess around, and took care of business. It was good to see him do that.”
Peniston, the “baby” of Chillicothe’s 2020 state contingent – both in age and state experience, even if not in size – was taken down about 10 seconds into his opening bout against Harrison Merriman of Monett, another perennially-tough southwest Missouri program, and stopped at exactly one minute.
In his consolation outing, after suffering a takedown 45 seconds into the 1-minute opening period, he started the second from the “top” position and nearly had Luis Ortiz (37-9) of Potosi turned to his back about midway through it. However, when the Hornet could not quite finish up that effort, he went to the third and final period still behind 2-0.
With Ortiz taking the “top” position to begin the third, Peniston tried to get loose to at least get an “escape” point and create the potential for a go-ahead takedown, but was unsuccessful.
Showing some signs of fatigue and disappointment from that unsuccessful extended effort, the Chillicothean got wedged over onto his back at mid-period and succumbed by pin with 20 seconds remaining.
The second loss of the day ended his participation in the state tourney and his season with a still-impressive 28-14 record.
Class 2 competition will resume Friday at 8:30 a.m. with a session including both the championship quarterfinals and consolation second-round bouts. An evening session Friday, beginning at about 6:30, will feature the championship semifinals and consolation “wrestlebacks” third-round action.
Saturday will bring the consolation semifinals and then the third- and fifth-round finals during a 9 a.m. session that extends into the early afternoon. The tourney’s final session – featuring all state-title bouts and medal ceremonies – will begin with pre-match ceremonies at 4 p.m.
The tourney is taking place at Mizzou Arena on the campus of the University of Missouri.