Chase Brennan, Kedrick Brink, Chris Renteria, Devon Overall and Matt Wentz are headed to Columbia to represent and compete for Monett. Coach Daryl Bradley knows that Monett was close to having a lot more qualify for the event but is encouraged by this group's success.
"Injuries really hit us hard this season," said Bradley. "We had three seniors with state experience whose season was cut short because of injuries. We also had another three wrestlers who were just a match away from making the tournament."
This season, Monett had 13 wrestlers win 20 or more matches and 12 of those were underclassmen. Five Cubs won at least 30 matches.
"I really feel that we are on the right path," said Bradley. "The team has shown growth from the beginning of the season up until now. Matches we lost earlier in the season we are now winning."
The excitement is obvious in Bradley's voice as he discusses his five qualifiers for the Missouri's State Wrestling Championship Tournament.
"We have a lot of confidence as we head to Columbia that we can win," said Bradley. "In practice, we don't want to try, we want to do. We approach every match with that attitude; we will succeed."
Monett has a mixture of seasoned veterans and talented newcomers representing the program at this year's state tournament.
Brennan, a sophomore, will represent Monett in the 106-pound division in Columbia.
Brennan won a state title in the 103-pound weight class last season and is counting on his learned experiences to help him this year.
"I learned that prematch preparation was the key," said Brennan. "I have to take one match at a time and focus on my opponent. I need to take it to my competition and attack."
Brennan (42-3) is a tough draw for opponents.
"Chase is tough on his feet and makes people work to score on him," said Bradley. "He has got to be aggressive and break people down mentally at state. Being a defending champion, people are going to paint a target on his back."
"Kedrick has done a great job of adjusting to matches and wrestling situations all season," said Bradley. "He has constantly gotten better from match to match. The key at state for Kedrick is for him to believe in himself and not to be content with just qualifying for the state tournament."
Brink has compiled a 29-16 record during his freshman wrestling season. Both coach and wrestler agree on one important aspect of wrestling on this big stage.
"I have to view it as just another tournament," said Brink. "If I can focus on what I do best on the mat and listen to my coaches, I can be successful at state."
Senior Chris Renteria will make his fourth consecutive trip to Columbia and will represent Monett in the 138-pound division.
"Chris has a large gas tank," said Bradley. "He has worked extremely hard to get where he is. His ability to constantly score on takedowns is his biggest strength. What Chris lacks in talent, he has made up for in effort, drive and motivation."
Renteria (47-1) is the defending 135-pound champion and has an extremely difficult road that he must travel in order to repeat. Renteria's division consists of a three-time state champion plus the individual responsible for his lone loss this season. This difficult path doesn't phase the veteran wrestler.
"I'm excited that I qualified again," said Renteria. "I still have work left to do. I can't rush things during matches and just need to focus on things that I can control. Last season gave me a lot of confidence, and I know that I can be successful at state."
"Devon has worked hard and is extremely tough on his feet," said Bradley. "He has a big motor that goes and goes. Devon has the ability to get his opposition into the third period and wear them out to earn wins. He's a good kid."
Overall, a junior, is 30-13 in matches this season. He will represent the Cubs in the 160-pound division and is excited that his turn has come around.
"It means a lot to me that I have qualified for state," said Overall. "I've spent the last couple of seasons on the junior varsity squad and worked hard to get to this point in my career. I have to keep my feet under me and listen to my coaches to be successful."
"Matt might be the most improved wrestler on our team," said Bradley. "He has put the time and effort in outside of practice and improved every week. This season he has gone from hoping to win matches to knowing he'll win matches."
Wentz, a sophomore, is only a second-year wrestler and compiled a 22-20 record this season in the 182-pound division. While Wentz thinks it's "awesome" to have made the tournament, he is keeping everything in perspective.
"I have worked hard and tried to follow my coach's lead," said Wentz. "I have to focus on my match and can't get caught up thinking about the next step. For me, it's all about execution."
Bradley thinks winning is a combination of coaching and athletes' desire.
"I think winning starts with coaching," said Bradley. "The kids have to have the desire to succeed and the right attitude. We don't want to try to be the best. We want to be the best. We don't hope to outwork our competition on the mat. We know we'll outwork our competition."
The Monett Times will be updating Thursday's and Friday's preliminary rounds live on www.monett-times.com.
|The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) will be providing avenues to follow the 2011 State Wrestling Championships. There will be a live scoring link on MSHSAA's website through a cooperative effort with the National Wrestling Coaches Association.|
The state tournament matches will be streamlined on video that may be accessed through MSHSAA's website. The streamlined video and the live scoring links can be accessed at www.mshsaa.org.