TOWN AND COUNTRY — If defense wins championships, then the Whitfield boys wrestling team may be primed to win its fourth consecutive Missouri Class 1 title.
Led by senior captains Matt Schueddig and Connor McAteer, the Warriors surrendered just three opponent points in their first four matches en route to a 38-33 victory over back-to-back defending Class 4 state champion CBC on Friday in the final dual meet before the postseason for both teams.
Schueddig had to overcome more than just his CBC opponent Jeffrey Morgan at 152. A cut on his forehead and a bloody nose forced him to wrestle the final two periods with enough wrap and gauze to be confused for a mummy.
But he managed an escape, then held on for a 1-0 victory.
“Defense is a building base, and you can’t have a good offense if someone keeps shooting on you and you can’t defend yourself,” Schueddig said. “Defense is the first step, and only after that do you start working your offense.”
At 138, McAteer broke a tie with Jacob Fryer of CBC with an escape late in the second period followed by a takedown to begin the third to notch a 5-2 victory.
“Defense has always been an issue for me in the neutral position,” McAteer said. “This year, I’ve really been focusing on defending my legs and the coaches have really given me some great tips.”
McAteer finished third at state as freshman, won a state title as a sophomore, then sat in the stands with a knee injury watching his teammates capture a third successive state crown last season.
“It was sad to watch my teammates compete and I was stuck sitting in the stands, but I helped the younger kids as much as I could and helped them evolve at practice,” McAteer said.
Some of those younger teammates excelled on Friday.
Kobe Raeman was a master technician in a 5-1 decision at 145, junior Logan Ferrero showed a dominant combination of quickness and strength to earn a technical fall at 132 and sophomore KJ Miley produced a first period pin at 285.
“We have a couple new guys and it’s hard for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so our job as leaders is to let them know that we’ve been there and encourage them to keep going,” Schueddig said.
CBC trailed 32-0 at one stage of the match, but pins by Jack Darrah at 220 and by defending state champion Vinny Zerban at 160 narrowed the score.
The most intense match of the night occurred between Lucas White of CBC and Chase Brock of Whitfield at 182.
The contest was scoreless in the third period before Brock slid in for a takedown with 1:09 remaining. White returned the favor 25 seconds later, sending the match to overtime where White earned an escape in the second overtime period for a 3-2 victory.
“Once he got the takedown I was nervous, but once it was tied and going to overtime, I thought my ground game was better than his,” White said.
White, who placed fourth at state as a sophomore last season, feels confident in the Cadets’ chance for a three-peat as the postseason approaches.
“Last year we weren’t picked to win it and we still won it, so we’re used to being the underdogs,” White said.
CBC coach Cornell Robinson enjoyed the competitiveness as the two power programs faced off in a final tuneup.
“It was a good dual meet and we definitely made it interesting,” Robinson said.
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