A year ago Brandon Nevils was on the outside looking in.
The Knob Noster wrestler lost in a bubble match at districts, missing out on a chance to go to state.
“The next week I was in here lifting weights and running,” he said. “A lot of that is the taste in your mouth from losing.”
He said a lot of his work since then has been on conditioning, helping him keep pushing through when his opponents were getting tired later in matches. This year, as a senior, the work paid off in the form of his first trip to state.
“I want to make a little noise,” he said. “They don’t see me doing anything at state so I want put my name out there. This is my first year going so I want to beat some people that think they should be better than me.”
If an upset is what he’s looking for, the state meet is the place to find it.
“The state tourney is full of guys beating people that they haven’t before,” said Warsaw wrestling coach Billy Daleske. “We’re hoping they’ll go in there and make some noise.”
Daleske’s Wildcats are sending five wrestlers to the state meet, which starts Thursday at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Warsaw sent two wrestlers last year.
“We like to think were on the upswing, getting stronger every year,” Daleske said. “Getting five compared to two the year before just shows the work the kids have been putting in.”
Sophomore Marshall Wilson (113 pounds) will compete at state for the second year in a row.
“He’s really put in a lot of work in the offseason,” Daleske said. “Any open mat we have, he’s one of the first ones there. As far as his wrestling this season, he’s just worked on being more physical. He’s working on not giving up.”
Junior heavyweight Austyn Bair takes a 30-15 record into the state meet.
“He’s become a more patient wrestler,” Daleske said. “He gives up a lot of size at heavyweight. He takes advantage of opportunities.”
Six of David Andrade’s Knob Noster Panthers are going to state. Some, like Nevils, are going for the first time.
“I think it gets to them,” Andrade said. “Sitting down there with the stands just packed and as many seats as there are there, it’s a big atmosphere that they don’t get at regular tournaments. It can be a little intimidating. It’s up to the coaches to make sure they’re focused on what their job is. We preach that it’s just another tournament.”
One of the Panthers who has been there before is Derek Morgan at 220 pounds. Morgan went to state two years ago as a sophomore before battling a shoulder injury last year. This season he’s been on a tear, going 43-2 and claiming the top spot in the missouriwrestling.com rankings.
“He came back very strong and worked hard in the offseason,” Andrade said. “He’s looking very tough this year. His senior year he’s just dominated everybody. He’s pinned everybody but three guys and two of those guys are ranked No. 1 in their respective classes.”
Knob Noster is also sending Troy Kyser (138 pounds) and Nick Vansell (182) to state for the second year in a row. Vansell took sixth at 170 pounds last year while Kyser was second at 126.
“Last year I think (Kyser) had a great tournament,” Andrade said. “He was on the good side of the bracket. This year it’s a lot different. He’s going to have to beat two former state champions.”
Vansell enters the state meet ranked No. 4 in the state according to missouriwrestling.com.
“He really stepped it up last year right before districts and he’s done the same thing this year,” Andrade said. “With him, it’s a little bit tougher. He is ranked high right now. Trying to show him the way to not overlook people because at state, crazy things happen, people get beat that shouldn’t get beat. With him we need to stay focused.”
First-round matches in Class 1 begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Day 1 of state meet
10 a.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia