Having spent most of this season competing at 152 lbs, Centralia's Grafton Litrell (36-8) moved up to 160 for his squads initial venture into Class 2 districts at Marshall on Saturday, and the way he was going he probably could have picked any weight he wanted to and still come out on top.
In order to claim his district title, the junior pinned Winfield's Clark Rogers in 1:11, but Litrell's toughest match may have been the 6-4 victory he posted just prior to that against Boonville's Charlie Pumel. This all came after he started the day by downing Southern Boone's David Hayden at 1:47 and Fulton's David Gibson in :52.
Anthony Stevens (25-20) of Centralia at 145 didn't have a typical day. That's because, even though he stood on the podium and was announced as finishing fourth in his weight class, what actually happened was he began this event with a bye before dominating Southern Boone's Austin Skagg's 16-1. After that technical fall Stevens lost to eventual champ Dillon Nichols of Mexico in 2:40, only to then come back and defeat James Lovell of St. Charles West for the right to be in the third place match.
"My third/fourth place match will be determined on Monday. I was on the podium, but we don't know who finished third and fourth because Skaggs ended up in the finals and he's already wrestled five matches, so we'll see," said Stevens. "(Against Mexico's Dillon Nichols) it was very frustrating in the beginning. Once I got my cool things were a little better. He's a tough kid, but a good guy. My main goal was to qualify for the state meet because I feel short last year. I don't want to feel that ever again."
Another Centralia champion, Trevor Bodine (40-4) at 195, began his district run with wins by fall over Kirksville's Bryce Kertz in 2:22 and Marshall's Kyle Gann at 1:37. That's when things got interesting for Bodine starting with a 16-0 technical fall against Boonville's Peyton Hahn to earn a spot in the title match against Lutheran St. Charles' Anthony Heard, which resulted in a victory by injury suffered by Heard in an earlier match that would not allow him to compete any further.
At 126 Duke Newsted (33-8) may have had the hardest road to a title of all the Panthers, and he's the only one who had a first-round bye, and that's because all of his matches went to a decision. This includes his 8-5 championship bout against Mexico's Dylan Mosely, as well as the 12-6 win he posted against Kirksville's Donovan Gaines and the 10-7 decision he edged out verses Cole Gramling of St. Charles West.
Taking third at 182 for Centralia was Quentin Foster (30-13), but it wasn't easy. He had to earn it with a 5-1 victory in the third place match against Kirksville's Trenton Gillespie. Despite starting out with a bye, that really was the kind of day had, though, and it also included a 5-2 decision over Orchard Farms' Cross Mollerus, a 6-0 defeat to Tristan Hatchel of St. Charles West and a tight 4-3 victory against Southern Boone's Dawson Paul.
Because the top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the state meet, Austin Dawson (27-15) just reached that mark by coming in fourth for Centralia at 138 by charting victories against Boonville's Eric Bundy in 5:06 and Moberly's Dakotah Courtney 6-2. Dawson's day had its flip side, though, which included major decision losses to Southern Boone's Blake Schmidt 13-1 and Trent Busby of St. Charles West in the third place match 8-0.
Hunter Phillips (30-9) at 170 got off to a good start at districts for the Panthers when he won 5-1 against Kirksville's Morgan Wilcox after drawing a round one bye. When he then just couldn't get past Owensville's Blaine Schoenfeld and instead fell 6-4, that set Phillips up for a win in 1:59 over Priory's Will Todt. That just left the match for third place, where the sophomore was pinned in 2:39 by Trevor Hatchel of St. Charles West to finish fourth.
The state meet is Feb. 14-16 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.