The Holden girls wrestling team established a new milestone for the Lady Eagles wrestling program, as well as for the entire Holden High School wrestling program by winning the Class 1, District 3 Girls Wrestling Tournament at Clinton High School held on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 – 11.
Seven of Holden’s nine Lady Eagle wrestlers ended the two-day tournament with top-four finishes to qualify for the Class 1 State Championships.
The list of Lady Eagles state qualifiers includes seniors Tasia Lee, Aubree Castaneda, and Alex VanHooser; junior Charlie Gregg, and freshmen Haley Brooks, Macey Greene, and Adasyn Yoder. Though not qualifying for the state meet, senior Jordan Sylvester, and junior MaReya May each recorded two wins to contribute team points to the first-ever district title for the Eagles and Lady Eagles wrestling programs.
The Lady Eagles recorded a total of 141.5 team points. Cassville collected 137 points in second place. Marshfield scored 108 team points in third place in the 32-team tournament.
“The only way we could win the district was with a complete team effort,” said Holden girls wrestling coach Ron Franklin. “We did not have the favored finalists that Cassville had, so our backside scorers really were able to lock it up. Adasyn, Tasia, Jordan, and MaReya wrestling through the backside scoring points, and getting to the wrestleback semifinals…the number you get through the bubble round wrestleback semifinals helps keep other teams from scoring against you. We were able to continue scoring in the final round with Haley, Tasia, and Charlie. They were enough to keep Cassville from catching us. With Charlie’s fall, and third-place points, it was locked up for us.”
For Lee and Gregg, this year’s all-district finishes set up the second state championships appearance for the two wrestlers.
Lee qualifies for the state championship after becoming Holden’s first-ever state qualifier during her sophomore season. Last year, Lee returned from an offseason knee surgery to record a district win before being knocked out of the district tournament.
Lee earned her opportunity at the state meet this year by placing third in the 130-pound weight class after entering the tournament as the No. 5 seed. A loss in Lee’s first match of the tournament in the quarterfinals put her on the backside of the bracket where she recorded three wins by pin, including a key win by pin over familiar foe Knob Noster wrestler Kylie Miller.
In the third-place match, Lee won by pin over Buffalo wrestler Makayla Altic.
“I was stressing a lot,” said Lee of her first-round loss, and her route back to a top-four finish that was secured with the win over Miller. “I went out and I got her pinned. It really changed my mindset going into my last match. It just got me a big push.
“My freshman year, I kind of went through the same thing,” described Lee. “I lost my first match, and then, I went to the bubble match. I didn’t make it to state, but I feel like I like the pressure. I really do like the pressure. I handle it very well, somehow.”
“Tasia might have been abducted by aliens because Friday she did not wrestle well at all,” said coach Franklin. “She squeaked out a win on Friday to stay alive. When we talked, she said that she wrestled better under pressure. Day two, she was a girl possessed, and cleaned house with three straight pins, forcing her way back to state once again. Along that path, she beat the No. 2 seed, Kylie Miller from Knob Noster, who she lost to earlier in the season, and Makayla Altic from Buffalo who beat her on day one, and sent her to the backside.”
Gregg matched her district third-place finish from last season by taking third-place at this year’s district tournament to qualify for the state championships for the second time.
Gregg entered this year’s tournament with 98 career wins. Following a win by pin in her first match, she sealed her 100th career victory with a win by pin in the quarterfinals on Friday.
“I was a little bit nervous at first, but then once I got that first match, I kind of just let the nerves go away and just wrestled,” said Gregg who competes in the 140-pound weight class.
A setback to Cassville wrestler Hailey Roark in the championship semifinals put Gregg in the consolation semifinals where she won by pin to move into the third-place match.
“I was expecting to win that semifinal match, but that didn’t go my way,” said Gregg. “Then, I came back in the third-place match, and got the win.”
Coach Franklin acknowledged Gregg’s milestone victory, and her return to the state meet.
“Charlie got her 100th win in the quarterfinals on day one,” confirmed coach Franklin. “It’s a big accomplishment that she wanted to get out of the way before state. She then ran into a girl from Cassville. If Charlie runs across her at state, I would put my money on Charlie. She then made sure she was going to keep up with Tasia, and get back to state for a second time.”
Lee and Gregg both dropped two matches during their state meet appearances. Gregg has her eyes on a different outcome this time around.
“I was a little bit nervous there in that bubble match, but it’s very exciting and I’m hoping to get some wins at state this year, instead of two-and-out,” said Gregg.
Freshman Haley Brooks marked this year’s district tournament by winning the individual title in the 105-pound weight class. Brooks swept through her first three matches with two wins by pin and a win by decision. She picked up her 50th win on the season in the first-place match by pinning El Dorado Springs wrestler Aleah Conar.
“I went into the tournament looking to win every period, and it worked for most of them,” said Brooks. “I also got some pins which I was really proud about, especially the last match. I hadn’t been able to get her turned at all this year. I finally was able to, and just a rush of joy went through my head, through my body.”
“Haley has been Miss Consistency, and she has had to do it against good girls over, and over again,” said coach Franklin of Brooks who holds a season record of 50-3. “The girl in the finals from El Dorado Springs beat Haley on Dec. 28, which is Haley’s last loss. Haley has beat her three times since then. She has never been able to turn her. She turned her twice at districts, and pinned her the second time.”
Greene advanced to the first-place match in the 115-pound weight class with wins in her first three matches. She avenged a recent loss to Seneca wrestler Louzella Graham by defeating Graham in the semifinals by decision. Greene fell in the title match to finish with the silver medal.
“Macey had a huge win in the semifinals against Graham from Seneca that really helped to set the tone for the whole team,” said coach Franklin. “She wrestled a very smart match, and found herself in the district finals.”
Castaneda went 2-1 in the 190-pound weight class at the district tournament in a runner-up finish. Castaneda’s two wins came by pin with her win in the semifinals advancing her to the title bout. In the first-place match, she fell to Seneca wrestler Isabella Renfro who holds a record of 43-0 on the season.
“It was very much an experience, but I try to think of it as another tournament,” said Castaneda. “It really is another tournament, and I came out with a second-place finish. It felt really good.”
Last season, Castaneda went 1-2 in the district tournament for her first district experience. During Castaneda’s first season on the team two years ago in her sophomore year, she, Gregg , and former teammates Sam VanHooser and Faith Brown were quarantined prior to the postseason as Lee was the lone Lady Eagle wrestler able to compete.
Castaneda stated that her experience at the district meet from last season aided her this year.
“It really prepared me for what I was going to see,” said Castaneda. “This experience was fantastic, and I’m so thankful of my coaches that came, my three coaches.
“Honestly, I’m so glad it’s growing,” added Castaneda in regard to the growth of the Lady Eagles team, and the sport of girls wrestling. “It’s a great sport, and I think everybody should be in a family-led kind of sport like this. You have to be responsible in this sport, and it’s just a great sport.”
“Aubree finally had as much confidence in herself as I have had in her for two seasons,” said coach Franklin. “She had a goal to qualify this year, and she knew how it needed to be done. She set her mind to it, and when given the opportunity, she kicked the door in. Her semifinal match was her best match of the entire season. She developed a plan of attack, and punched her ticket. I was so proud of her at that moment because I saw that goal materialize in two minutes, and 31 seconds.”
Senior Alex VanHooser will compete at the state meet after placing fourth in the 235-pound weight class.
Following a loss in the quarterfinals, VanHooser recorded a win in sudden victory when she maneuvered for a reversal in the extra period. A win by pin in the consolation semifinals put her in the third-place match where she suffered a loss, yet secured a top-four finish to qualify for the state meet.
“I was super nervous, and I got knocked out the first time I wrestled,” said VanHooser. “I went on the backside. I got through. I tried to remember that it’s just another tournament, and I just have to work my stuff.”
“Alex’s matches through the entire tournament were slow and methodical, and always kept you on the edge of your seat,” said coach Franklin. “The bubble round was exciting. The best thing was to see how happy she was.”
Freshman Adasyn Yoder in a fourth-place finish had the longest district road to the state tournament as she posted a record of 4-2 in her six matches. A win by pin in the consolation semifinals put Yoder in the 120-pound third-place match where she suffered a loss, but gained a fourth-place medal to pay her admission to the state meet.
“Adasyn showed true grit coming back through the backside after losing a close match to a girl she beat the weekend before districts,” said coach Franklin. “She got herself back to the bubble, allowed herself to be coached, and went out and executed the plan perfectly. She knocked out the No. 2 seeded wrestler, making Adasyn the third freshman state qualifier for the Lady Eagles.”
For senior Jordan Sylvester, and junior MaReya May, the season came to a close at the district meet.
Sylvester recorded a first-round win by pin, suffered a quarterfinal loss, and rebounded with two wins by pin in the 190-pound bracket. A loss by pin in the consolation semifinals ended Sylvester’s tournament run in her second season on the Lady Eagles wrestling team.
May rebounded from a loss in the quarterfinals by recording two wins by pin. In the consolation semifinals, May suffered a loss to end her tournament run.
“MaReya wrestled her tail off, and gave the district champion her roughest match of the tournament,” said coach Franklin. “She then went backside, and did what she does best which is pin girls. She got herself in position to have the opportunity to qualify, but fell short. She had an outstanding last half of the season.
“Jordan, like MaReya wrestled her tail off and helped the team secure a district championship, but was unable to qualify,” said coach Franklin. “She got to the bubble round. She is by far the most improved wrestler this season, and became a consistent contributor in both duals and tournaments.”
Though not competing at the district tournament, senior Lilly Guinn, and freshman Jessica Felder contributed to the team during the season, and completed the team roster of 11 wrestlers. The team has grown every year since Lee’s freshman season when she competed as the lone Lady Eagle wrestler.
“Overall, the support that we have received from the parents, and the fans is tremendous,” continued coach Franklin. “The respect and compliments that I receive from other coaches and fans about how we compete reinforces to me that we are doing it the right way. When you decide to grow and develop a program, you have to have the right seeds. Tasia is the original seed that was planted, and has grown into what we are currently growing today. The influx of Charlie as a freshman added good growth. The success these girls had when qualifying for state opened the door to new possibilities at Holden. One girl grows to five girls, grows to seven girls, grows to 11 girls. The new seeds flourish. Three freshman state qualifiers, seven total state qualifiers, a district championship, and there is still with more to come. Success breeds success.”
The seven state qualifiers from the Lady Eagles wrestling team now move onto the state meet in Columbia.
“I’m blown away of how many girls we’re taking,” said Lee. “We took one girl each year, and now that we’re taking seven out of nine. We’re doing amazing as a team. It’s amazing watching people grow as a wrestler, and as a person. It just blows my mind.”
The Class 1 Girls Wrestling Championships are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 22-23, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. A schedule for Class 1 Wrestling Championships events is available on the Missouri State High School Activities Association website at www.mshsaa.org.