Looking back on the path the Mexico wrestling team bulldozed this season to get to the class 2 state championship, it's not surprising the fact it won the North Central Missouri Conference got caught up in all the ensuing mayhem.
That's at least partly because the Bulldogs didn't exactly employ a subtle style on their way to the top in 2017-18. Instead, the squad would start off with speed victories from wrestlers like Carter Maxwell amd Kevin Duong, transition into the technical stylings of grapplers like Dylan Patton and Dillon Nichols and then dominate with the natural talent of Kellen Ekern. Then, if that wasn't enough, Mexico would come at teams with big men like Hale Fuemmeler, Wyatt Turner and Terrese Aaron.
"The best part is winning the State Title I had a lot of sleepless nights for many years. Winning the title isn’t just for us it’s for everyone that has wrestled in Mexico," said head coach Gayle Adams. "Many guys laid the foundation for this team. Winning the State title means a lot to the school, community and the team because it shows if you work hard and put the time in good things happen and it paid off for the guys the sacrificed for that trophy."
Even though the upside is tremendous for accomplishments such as this, there's also a down side. That's because when you put in the time and effort it takes to help guys like Ekern, Aaron and 2016-17 grad Brit Wilson earn Div. 1 scholarships, that loss is felt by more than just the program itself. This year the seniors the Bulldogs will be losing are Patton, a four-time state qualifier, Vinny Vitale, Three-time state champion Ekern, two-time state champion Aaron, Jaedan Pottebaum, Fuemmeler and three-time state qualifier Turner.
"Worst part is like every year you lose your seniors because they mean a lot to the team and to me but that’s high school sports we try are best to make great young men out of them. But what is great you have young men hungry to get back at it to win another title," Gayle Adams said. "It’s been a great year. I’m honored to coach these fine young men and coach Mexico Wrestling it’s pretty rewarding to give back to the community and to my school."
With all this team success also csme plenty of individual accolades. This includes Gayle Adams earning Head Coach of the Year for Class 2, as well as Head Coach of the year for Class 2, District 2 for the fifth year in-a-row. Assistant Coach Sinjin Adams was named Class 2 State Assistant Coach of the Year and Class 2 District 2 Assisitant Coach of the Year, as well.
"We brought home a lot of hardware this year. We had six All North Central Missouri Conference Wrestlers, Five State medalists and Three State Champs," Gayle Adams said. "We also had our team State Title, two Academic All State Wrestlers, Dillon Nichols and Kellen Ekern, Class 2 District 2 Wrestler of the year Terrese Aaron and Class 2 Wrestler of the year Kellen Ekern."
Among those First-Team All-League wrestlers for Mexico were Patton at 132, Nichols at 138, Ekern at 170, Aaron at 285, Juarez at 113 and Fuemeller at 195. For the season the Bulldogs were 18-2 overall, 6-0 NCMC.
"Winning the NCMC for the second year in the row is big for the program. Winning the conference is tough," said Gayle Adams. "We have a lot of State placers in our conference and they come ready to wrestle every night, especially against us. We return five State Qualifiers, including state champ Dillon Nichols. Blayne Wieberg, Brayan Juarez and Kevin Duong are all two-time state qualifiers. Now they have to step up and get on the podium. They'll put in the time and get what they deserve next winter."
With freshman Carter Maxwell being the other returning state qualifier for Mexico, if this summer is going to be like last summer, and Gayle Adams has already said it will be, then whoever is available will have the opportunity to stay busy. Aaron and Ekern have also said they plan to once again hit the road with Adams one more time to compete against anyone and everyone just like they did in 2017, and just like it was for Wilson a summer ago, this will be their final time wrestling with these guys.
"We had a great preseason. We got in great shape and got the weight down and worked on set ups to our finishes and little things we need to work on down the mat," Gayle Adams said. "I felt if we stayed healthy through the preseason we would make a great run at the title."
Next up for this team is to get back to the business of winning. Until then these guys just want to try and find a way to enjoy this moment because it only lasts for so long.
"In the postseason we peaked at the right time. I wasn’t worried about winning a District title. I wanted my guys to be ready for State, so we kinda underperformed at Districts, but we still broke the school record by taking 11 State Qualifiers to State," said Gayle Adams. "When the guys got to the state tournament we were focused and ready to perform and it showed. They wrestled a great tournament. The coaches had the guys ready to wrestle."