The Smith-Cotton wrestling team picked up a pair of West Central Conference wins on Wednesday, beating KC Center 69-10 and O’Hara 49-29.
O’Hara came in ranked No. 7 in the state in Class 1 in the Missouriwrestling.com rankings, but Smith-Cotton jumped into an early lead when Kayla Semler was unopposed at 113 pounds and Logan Parham, Luke Archibeque, Tanner Proctor and Jake McFail scored victories in their matches to make it 25-0 Tigers.
“Once you get (momentum) going, it’s hard to stop it,” Archibeque said. “If it does, you’ve still got other people to pick it back up.”
Two of the Tigers’ wins in the O’Hara match, Archibeque at 126 pounds and Proctor at 132, came on decisions while two more, Parham at 120 pounds and Noah Aziere at 152, came on pins in the second and third periods.
“This match with O’Hara, we knew it was going to be close going in,” said Smith-Cotton coach Joel Sherman. “We talked about the psychological aspect of it and getting on a roll and getting the momentum going. We knew there were a couple of matches that were going to be big with Luke Archibeque’s match, we knew that could go either way and Noah’s could go either way. We won both of those.”
At 152 pounds, Smith-Cotton’s Noah Aziere faced O’Hara’s Spencer Matthews, ranked No. 4 in the state and came away with a pinfall in 5:33 after trailing in the first period.
“Noah just came back and fought back,” Sherman said. “He just wrestled a smart match, got his points back. Those types of things are critical to get points at the end of a period when the opponent can’t get them back.”
Matthews scored a take down in the first period, but Aziere countered with an escape and trailed 2-1 after the first.
“He started off strong,” Aziere said. “He came out with a little fire. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. He tried a single-leg and then I did something I shouldn’t have done, probably shouldn’t have done it, and it ended up back-firing. I got up, got my points back, but it definitely set me back.”
In the second period, Aziere started in the down position and came out of it for an early escape to tie the score, then scored a takedown moments later to take the lead.
“I knew he was coming with that shot no matter what,” Aziere said. “As soon as I got out, I went on offense. I knew that he was tired. I just went out there, took a couple shots, he got up but I took another one. It just worked out in my favor, being in better shape.”
Aziere got the pinfall in the third period. After a restart with Aziere on top, he leaned backwards, flipping Matthews over and getting his shoulders on the mat at 5:33.
“I knew he was going to stall because that’s what he had done in the (second) period,” Aziere said. “I just pulled something out that I hadn’t used in a while.”
Jake McFail won the 138 pound match by pinning O’Hara’s Tanner Warner in 1:34.
“That was another match that could go either way,” Sherman said. “It looked like he was just going to hand it to us and Jake came out and got the pin. That was a huge swing.”
Parham won against O’Hara’s Devon Maschger, getting a quick takedown followed by a near-fall late in the first period. He pinned Maschger in 2:52.
Archibeque scored a takedown in the first period and an escape early in the second to lead O’Hara’s Wyatt Franklin 5-0 after two periods. He won 6-2.
“I was trying to get my fireman’s throw in,” Archibeque said. “When I got him down, I was trying to work a half, but the kid was so flexible I got a potentially dangerous (call) so I couldn’t really work that in.”
At 170 pounds, Jacob Weeks scored a quick takedown and a pair of near-falls before pinning Jayden Hudson in 1:25.
Against Center, the Tigers won eight weight classes in which the Yellowjackets did not have a wrestler.
Aziere and Center’s Davis McDonald wrestled a scoreless opening minute and a half, both taking shots but neither gaining the upper hand until Aziere caught McDonald for a takedown late in the period. Aziere won the match on a 3-0 decision.
“He was very strong, very quick and very good defense,” Aziere said. “He was stronger than I was, I’m not going to lie about that, but I have the technique and I have the skill so I just kept my cool and kept going. I took a couple shots, they didn’t work out, but I just kept going and eventually it all fell.”
Proctor needed 1:01 to pin Center’s Max Blydenburgh. It was the first of two wins on the night for Proctor who scored a major decision over O’Hara’s Saul Jiminez after scoring a takedown and a near-fall in the first period and a reverse in the second on the way to the 13-1 win.
“Tanner has really stepped it up this year,” Sherman said. “He’s worked as hard as anybody in the room. He and Luke battle every day and they’re working hard. It’s paying off. He came into this season with a great attitude and he’s got some goals in mind. It’s going to pay off.”
At 138 pounds, McFail needed 56 seconds to pin Danzell Stone. Barry Rivera scored a pinfall at 2:49 in the 170-pound match against Malik Burton.
O’Hara beat Center 60-6.
The Tigers will face another WCC rival on Tuesday when they host Warrensburg.