Clements makes own CHS history as its first MEC girls’ wrestling champ

Junior takes 112-pounds crown in Wednesday’s league tournament; Hornets lost twice Tuesday

As reported to C-T

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Five days after classmate/teammate Karyna Ireland made Chillicothe High School wrestling history with a regular-season tournament weight-class title, Abigail Clements wrote her own name into the CHS wrestling history book Wednesday.

Competing in the 112-pounds weight division of the 2020-21 league tournament (held early in the season, due to COVID-19 concerns about the length of the season), Clements split her bouts against the other two entrants – who did likewise, but because her win was by fall and her loss by decision, the Chillicothean emerged as Midland Empire Conference champion for her weight division.

She thus is the first Lady Hornet wrestler ever to earn that distinction. Ireland and a third CHS junior, Haliey Fahling, both became MEC runnersup Wednesday, Fahling by also winning one of her two 174-pounds bouts and Ireland while actually having the best showing of the four Chillicothe entries. Ireland won twice by fall and lost once that way at 137.

The fourth Chillicothe competitor, sophomore 132-pounder Addison Lewis, finished second among the mere two entrants.

Clements (2-2) wasn’t in a great position to ultimately emerge on top when she dropped her opening bout at Lafayette High School to St. Joseph: Benton’s Lexi Petersen 9-4.

However, she bounced back to pin Cameron’s Kierstin Manley, who entered the tourney with an 8-4 record, after only 74 seconds.

Having kept her hopes alive, Clements then needed Manley to beat Petersen in the final round-robin bout to give each one a 1-1 record and bring a tiebreaker into play. That need was fulfilled when the Lady Dragon stuck the Benton girl at 2:36.

With each of her opponents having lost once by fall and Clements having suffered only a decision defeat, the tiebreaker scales shifted her way, giving her the conference crown in the third year of girls’ wrestling being its own entity in Missouri.

While Clements was claiming her title, Ireland was winning by fall over a Savannah opponent in 2:38, losing by fall in 1:14 to eventual champion Tatum Levendahl of Benton, and then pinning a Cameron entry at 3:17 to be runnerup.

Fahling opened with a 2:24 pin of a Maryville foe before being defeated by Cameron’s undefeated MEC champ Hollie Hedgpeth in 43 seconds.

Lewis lost virtually identically to a Savannah wrestler twice in the 2-persons 132-pounds category. The first bout ended in a fall at 1:41 and the second last two seconds longer.

Wednesday’s MEC girls’ tournament – the boys’ event still will be in January, pandemic permitting – followed a pair of qualified losses by the Hornets the night before.

The young Chillicothe boys’ squad travelled to Odessa Tuesday to duel in duals with two of the strongest small- to mid-sized-school mat programs in the state – host Odessa and fellow MEC member Cameron.

Not only is Chillicothe’s 2020-21 roster light on seniors and varsity veterans, particularly compared to OHS and Cameron, but the Hornets went into Tuesday’s action with a reduced lineup with no less than five “open” weights (113, 125, 138, 182, 195). Those 30-points giveaways effectively meant team defeat even before the action began.

In the actual wrestling, aside from freshman Lane McCoy, things went poorly for Chillicothe.

McCoy, at the lightest weight (106 pounds), earned the only two Hornets victories in contested bouts on the night, earning an 11-3 major decision over Cameron and pinning Odessa’s Landon Scarborough in 54 seconds.

While all of the other bouts against Cameron went to the Dragons by forfeit, fall, or decision, Odessa was without a participant at 285 and 152 pounds. That meant forfeit wins to Chillicothe’s James Griffin and Cayden Larson, respectively.

With the Hornets’ originally-planned season opener at Marshall, which had been postponed to this Thursday (Dec. 17), postponed yet again, due to COVID-19 rates at Marshall, the Chillicothe boys’ team will move on to the Spartan Duals tournament at Moberly.

The Moberly event began Friday evening, but, as a concession to COVID-19 concerns, Chillicothe opted to participate only today. Its five duals will be against Mexico, Bolivar, Jefferson City: Helias, and the host school.

“All of these schools are very good at wrestling and have great dual teams,” CHS head coach Chad Smith tells the C-T. “I am very excited for our team to get to wrestle great competition.”