Some of the Centralia varsity wrestling team was more experienced than others when it came to the Missouri State High School Athletic Association season-ending championship tournament, and just like always, the initial place that started to show for Centralia was the Class 1 District 3, meet at Marceline.
One individual who was looking forward to going back to the state meet for the Panthers was Grafton Littrel, and even though the sophomore will be making his second trip to Mizzou Arena in as many years, that's only because he pinned Brookfield's Khalil Walker in 5:33 in the first place match. Litrell also earned an 11-3 major decision at 152 over Lexington's Tristin Scheiber in the semifinals, in the quarterfinals he won by fall against Trenton's Noah Lewis in 1:01 and in round one he drew a bye.
Coming in second for Centralia was Trevor Bodine by way of downing Hallsville's Ian Hayden in 3:04 and a pair of opening round byes. He then ended this event by ending up on the wrong end of a 10-3 decision at 195 to Trenton's Jadan Whitney.
Nicky O'Toole also placed for the Panthers by finishing third at 106 after besting Lafayette County's Quentin Reickard in 4:28 and Macon's Trace Brown in :45 in the consolation semifinals. O'Toole also was given a bye for round one and topped Richmond's Tristyen Nibarger in 1:20, only to find himself losing to Marceline's Cooper Fisher in the semifinals in :28.
Centralia's AJ Hombs' path at 120 didn't end the way it started because, even though he did get a bye for rounds one and three, he also lost by major decision in round two to Gallatin's Ayden White and Penney's Radley Reed by technical fall 20-4 in the consolation semifinals. He did have one highlight, though, and that was winning by fall in :31 against Marceline's Alias Dauber in consolation round three.
As for Austin Dawson at 126 for Centralia, he started with a bye and a win against Tina-Avalon's Joe Johnson 7-5, which led to a 17-2 technical fall to Richmond's Rance Waigand in 5:0 in the semifinals. When Dawson then lost in the consolation semifinals to Hallsville's Lucas Pemberton 6-0, that was the end of his postseason.
Duke Newsted at 132, on the other hand, was somebody the Panthers secretly hoped would rise above his age, but because that included defeating Hallsville's Andrew Huddleston, he instead ended up falling in 1:55. In the consolation rounds Newsted did down Lexington's Jack Breid and draw two byes, but in between those byes was a loss in 5:07 to Lafayette County's Joey Livigne, which was death in this double elimination event.
At 138 for Centralia Carson Sanders began his day with a bye and then lost by technical fall 15-0 to Marceline's Clayton Stallo before finding a way to pin Penney's Anthony Prater in 2:32. When Sanders continued riding that momentum to a 7-6 victory over Carrolton's Xavier Yoakum, things really began to look up, until he fell to Hallsville's Trent Rowland 4-3, that is.
Anthony Stevens at 145 got off to a good start for the Panthers at this event by pinning Lexington's Gabe Hager in 1:30 but when he lost to Lafayette County's Trenton Rankin in the quarterfinals in 1:26 and received a bye for consolation round two, the handwriting was on the wall. Unfortunately, that really was an indicator of things to come because in his next bout Stevens lost to Penney's Derek Aiken in :50.
Things were even rougher for at districts Hunter Phillips at 160 for Centralia as he lost to Polo's Joseph Hilburn 5-1 in consolation round two after getting defeated by Marceline's Rylan Chrisman in exactly 1:00. He drew a bye for round one, as well
Lakota Phillips also began this event with a bye at 170 for Centralia and then worked like crazy to get past Marceline's Hunter Teeter, only to end up getting stuck in a heartbreaking 6:40. That led to a win by fall over Trenton's Nick Wattenbarger in 2:35 and yet another close loss in consolation round three at the hands of Hallsville's Cooper Crane 3-2.
One wrestler who didn't make it easy for the opposition was the Panthers Quentin Foster at 182, which included getting the better of Macon's Tucker Gresham in 2:00, Richmond's Ryker Plymell 4-2 and he got a bye for consolation round three. Foster also just barely fell to Brookfield's Carson Wilkerson 4-3 and got pinned in the quarterfinals by Mark Trump in 5:47.
At 220 for the Panthers Sam Lynn had the good fortune to be issued two byes and he also defeated Mecon's Maximus Cook in 2:05. On the flip side Lynn was also downed by Lexington's Kane Dobson in 2:19 in the consolation semi-finals and Penney's Kenneth Pulley in the quarterfinals.
Heavyweight Xaden Lockett somehow got a pair of byes, as well, in addition to topping Trenton's Jarvis Collis 6-0 for the Panthers and losing in :38 in the consolation semifinals to Macon's Jeffery Smoot. This was in addition to falling in :56 to Brookfield's Brooks Baker.
The top four in each weight class advanced to the state meet in Columbia this weekend.