"When we won the state wrestling title in 2008 we only had five of our seven wrestlers score points," said Bradley, Monett High School Athletic Director and head wrestling coach. "The five gentlemen we are taking this year all have the potential to score big points."
Monett has a mixture of seasoned veterans and talented newcomers representing the program at this year's tournament.
Freshman Chase Brennan, will represent Monett in the 103-pound division in Columbia.
"Chase is a physically gifted, hardnosed kid," said Bradley. "Being able to step onto the high school level and compete and earn your way to the state tournament really validates our youth program and what they are trying to accomplish."
Both coach and wrestler agree on one important aspect of this big stage.
"I have to view it as just another tournament," said Brennan. "I don't want to get caught up in the glamour of the tournament. If I can focus on what I do best on the mat, I can be successful at state."
Chris Renteria, a junior, will make his third consecutive trip to Columbia and will represent Monett in the 135-pound division.
"Chris is wrestling as good as anyone in the state right now," added Bradley. "He really stepped up his game at the district competition and beat the top-ranked wrestler in his class. Chris has only been wrestling for four or five years, which is a short career, but his thirst for knowledge and his work ethic have really helped him close the gap."
Renteria expects big thing out of himself when he travels north today.
"I'm excited that I qualified again," said Renteria. "I still have work left to do. I have to be mentally prepared before each match and do the right things. There is nothing any better than when you take a guy down and pick up a win."
For Monett senior Ethan Davis, the pursuit of a third state title in his magnificent wrestling career begins on Thursday. Davis wrestles in the 145-pound division.
"I expect Ethan to dominate," said Bradley. "He doesn't hope to win; he expects to. He's as mentally tough and prepared as a wrestler as I have ever had. I can't find any weakness in his skill set. He sets the tone for our program."
Davis says he's still hungry.
|"Winning districts and qualifying for state was nice," said Davis, "but I still have some unfinished business. I will not be happy until I get that championship. It's more muscle memory when I take the mat. I know what I have to do to win."|
Monett junior Carter Huffmaster is making his second trip to the state tourney. after qualifying his freshman year. Huffmaster will compete in the 152-pound division.
"Carter is a good example of a kid who was determined to qualify for state," said Bradley. "He wants to medal, not just compete. He is a very stubborn wrestler who makes an opponent work extremely hard. Carter has a lot of close matches because of his wrestling style. We have high hopes for him at state."
Huffmaster is glad his hard work is paying off.
"I'm glad to get to state again," said Huffmaster. "Not qualifying last year really focused me in the off-season. I had to work extremely hard to get back to this point. At state I have to focus on one match at a time and approach each match with the mindset that it might be my last. My goal is to have my name added to the Monett Wrestling Wall of Champions."
Senior Clayton Patton punched his ticket to Columbia in the 160-pound division and is making his first trip to state for the Cubs.
"For the last eight years I have coached here I have had a Patton wrestling for me," said Bradley. "Clayton has won a lot of matches for Monett wrestling. He has to be smart and use his speed at state. If he can keep the matches close and capitalize on his opponents' mistakes, he'll have a great tournament."
While it took Patton three years to qualify for state, he is no stranger to big tournaments.
"I qualified for the youth state tournament when I was younger," said Patton. "I had to fight through a tough district to qualify for state and I want to make the most of my opportunity."
While Bradley is focused on this year's team, he offered some practical advice for parents who want to get their children involved in wrestling.
"Your child doesn't need to be a great athlete to be a good wrestler," said Bradley. "They have to be able to listen and work hard. Get your child involved early in wrestling, make it fun for them and don't burn them out. Finally, for a good wrestler, the sport can't be a seasonal item. You have to work year round to get results."
Monett will leave today at 1 p.m. for Columbia. Fans and well wishers are encouraged to attend and send the team off.
The Monett Times will be updating Thursday's and Friday's preliminary rounds live on www.monett-times.com.
|Also the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) will be providing avenues to follow the 2011 State Wrestling Championships.|
|The state tournament matches will be streamlined on video that may be accessed through MSHSAA's website.||There will be a live scoring link on MSHSAA's website through a cooperative effort with the National Wrestling Coaches Association.|
The streamline video link and the live scoring link can be accessed at www.mshsaa.org.