Split six bouts in the 2020 Class 2 state championship Thursday through Saturday with all three defeats coming against fellow 106-pounds state medal-winners.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Chillicothe HS Hornets junior lightweight Sheldon Rader earned the sixth-place medal in the 106-pounds weight division of the 2020 Class 2 Missouri Wrestling Championships today (Saturday, Feb. 22), officially joining the ranks of all-time CHS state medal-winners.
Having assured himself of a top-6 finish and state medal when he won a decision in his consolation “wrestlebacks” third-round bout Friday evening, Rader closed out his state-tournament performance Saturday morning with decision losses in his consolation semifinal and then the fifth-place bout.
In the finals, rematched with Caleb Husch – a Cameron Dragon he had faced once previously in 2019-20, Rader sustained a 4-1 loss. That left him with sixth place, but still a spot on the medals stand after splitting six bouts at Mizzou Arena Thursday through Saturday. He had gone to state as a sophomore, but lost both of his 2019 bouts there.
In his prior match Saturday, the CHS Hornet was shut out 4-0 by Ryan Meek of St. Clair.
Rader wrapped up the season with a 35-11 record, his wins total the largest on this season’s Hornets. In claiming the medal, he extended to 11-consecutive years the Chillicothe program’s current streak of having at least one state medal-winner.
He was one of four members of this year’s CHS squad to qualify for state, having finished third in the District 4 tournament the weekend before. Ironically, that quartet had stairstep showings at Columbia – Rader winning three bouts and a medal, 160-pounds senior Dawson Wheeler winning twice, but coming up one victory shy of a medal, senior 220-pounder Isaac Washburn claiming one victory in three bouts, and sophomore Christian Peniston dropping both of his 285-pounds bouts.
With only his final positioning, not qualification for a medal, to be determined by his two visits to the mat Saturday, Rader wound up matched against freshmen putting the finishing touches on exceptional seasons.
In the semifinal against Meek (44-6), Rader was taken down officially for the bout’s initial scoring about 35 seconds in.
Down 2-0 going to the second period, the Chillicothean was in the “top” position, but could not keep control of the St. Clair ninth grader. Reversed with a half-minute left in the period after a long struggle to, first, try to find a way to get Meek turned to his back and then try to stay on top, Rader went to the final period trailing 4-0.
Choosing to work from the bottom this time, Rader spent the entire last two minutes seeking in vain to get free, resulting in the 4-0 loss.
That put him against Husch again, who had bested him in essentially the title bout of the Midland Empire Conference tournament in late January.
In a near-copy of his duel with Meek, Rader was taken down in mid-first period to trail 2-0 after one.
With the wrestlers on their fee, by Husch’s choice, to open the second, the Cameron frosh used his decision to get the Hornet to the mat a second time, making it 4-0. Rader battled for more than a minute to get free, finally escaping in the final 15 seconds of the second period to get on the scoreboard.
Trailing by three points, Rader selected the “bottom” starting position for the third period, hoping to at least manage an early escape that could offer the chance for a tying takedown. However, Husch (50-4) had all of the necessary answers, staying in control of the Chillicothean for the full two minutes to finish up a 4-1 win.
While Rader’s final “balance sheet” for the state tournament literally was balanced – three wins and three losses, a deeper delve into his performance discloses it carries more lustre than that.
In the end, the CHS junior’s losses – coincidentally all against freshmen unlikely to still be at 106 pounds next year – came at the hands of top-5 finishers and state medal-winners, each of whom completed their seasons with at least 44 victories.
The first opponent to hand Rader a defeat at state this season, back on Thursday – Brady Roark of Seneca – shut out Meek 7-0 in Friday night’s championship semifinals. On Saturday afternoon, he was edged 4-3 by a Pleasant Hill frosh in the state-title duel, capping Roark’s year with a 48-3 record.
The only non-freshman 106-pounds Class 2 medal-winner besides Rader was Mexico’s Keith Ransom (44-2), who placed third with a 4-0 decision over Meek in the finals.