Chillicothe Sophomore Wrestler Miller Dazzles, Wins Title in Season Opener

Pins way to 182-pounds laurels in tournament at Pleasant Hill Saturday

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Sophomore Brock Miller of the Chillicothe High School wrestling Hornets has early control of Eldon’s Sam Coppock on his way to a 31-seconds win by fall in the 182-pounds first-place bout of Saturday’s Steve Leslie Invitational tournament at Pleasant Hill.

PLEASANT HILL, Mo. — Led by sophomore Brock Miller’s tremendous, title-claiming showing in the 182-pounds weight division, Chillicothe High School’s wrestling Hornets commenced their 2020-21 season Saturday by posting the third-most team points in the Steve Leslie Invitational tournament at Pleasant Hill.

With Miller pinning all five of his foes in 66 seconds or less, freshman lightweight Lane McCoy taking second place at 106 pounds, and senior 2020 state medalist Sheldon Rader securing third at 120, the CHS varsity accumulated 190 team points, fifth-most among varsity squads.

However, when the 18 points earned by two Chillicothe junior-varsity participants posted as they mixed in the brackets among the varsity wrestlers, CHS’ 208 total points eased them past Nevada (198 with no JV points) and Harrisonville (194 varsity, 5 JV) in total points earned.

Host Pleasant Hill ran away with the varsity team championship with 381-1/2 points (its backups posted another 31-1/2), far, far ahead of runnerup Kirksville’s 255.

Chillicothe had its team success despite not having a full varsity lineup.CHS was open in two weight classes – 126 and 220 pounds.

“I am very excited about how this group of 10 freshmen and sophomores came into a really-tough tournament and performed the way they did,” Chad Smith, veteran Hornets head coach, praised. “The five freshmen all scored (team) points.”

Making their high school debuts were Joel Edwards (113), Justin Pyle (138), Brody Cairns (160),  Cayden Larson (152), and McCoy (106). Sophomores in action included Miller, Dawson Sutton (170), Lucas Reynolds (195),  Dylan Ulmer (JV 285), and Gavin Funk (JV 132).

The coach also was satisfied with the showings of the new team’s most-veteran members.

“We had some good performances from several upperclassmen,” Smith commented, citing juniors Christian Peniston’s (285) and Aiden Zimmerman’s (132) fourth-place finishes in addition to Rader’s third in what the Hornets coach labeled a “loaded” 120-pounds division.

While those CHS wrestlers’ efforts and performances drew Smith’s attention, it was Miller’s which captured his imagination and admiration.

The 10th grader, who fought through a couple of injuries and health situations during the football season to play extensively and show bright promise, seized the limelight in Saturday’s mat action, even though he didn’t stay on the mat long. In fact, in winning five times in five tries, Miller competed for only a cumulative 201 seconds – a mere 3:21 of a possible 30 minutes.

“It was as dominant of any regular-season tournament performance I have seen in a while!” his head coach gushed. “It was fun to see Brock wrestle at that level.”

Miller’s opening bout was his longest – and it lasted only 66 ticks of the clock as he handled an Eldon opponent.

He followed that with a 26-seconds pin of Kirksville’s entry and a 27-seconds finish of a St. James jayvee.

That put Miller in the championship semifinals, in which he topped a Nevada foe in 51 seconds, before he repeated his conquest of Eldon’s Sam Coppock in less than half the time this time – 31 seconds.

Promising frosh McCoy started his high school career with four wins by fall – three in the opening period and one in the second – before Nevada’s unbeaten Kynndrick Brooks bested him in 1:03 in the 106-pounds final.

At 120, a division heavier than Smith expects him to compete in come the postseason, Rader opened with a victory by decision and one by fall before losing by fall and then a 2-points decision. He wrapped up his day with additional team points and third place individually by nipping Kirksville’s Chance McKim 7-6.

Among the other, mostly-younger Hornets, Zimmerman (2-3 at 132 pounds), Cairns (3-2 at 160), Reynolds (2-2 at 195), and Peniston (3-2 at 285) each placed fourth. Edwards (1-4 at 113) took fifth, Pyle (2-3 at 138), Larson (2-3 at 152), and Sutton (2-3 at 170) each were seventh, and senior Cesar Mares (1-4 at 145) was eighth.

Of the pair of Chillicothe junior-varsity entries, Ulmer was 2-3 and Funk 1-4.

Chillicothe’s wrestlers will be in action next weekend – the varsity boys in a duals tournament hosted by Carrollton, while the varsity girls and other freshmen and sophomore boys in a tournament at Excelsior Springs.