At 9:46 p.m. Saturday evening, Mizzou Arena was nearly empty as Maryville senior Brendan Weybrew and the rest of the 285-pound finalists made their way to their respective mats. Weybrew and Trevor White of Brookfield made their way to Mat 1 for the Class 1 championship bout, a rematch from the Class 1 District 4 final that ended in a 1-0 decision in favor of White.
With the lights to Mizzou Arena off, spotlight on Maryville’s two-time state medalist and ‘Enter Sandman’ playing through the speakers, Weybrew would need a Mariano Rivera-esque performance to win the first state championship for Maryville since 2010, including the first in the heavyweight division. The scene was fitting, as this would be the final match of Weybrew's high school career.
After a scoreless opening period, White scored two points in the second round for riding, leaving Weybrew the chance to score from an offensive position.
With 10 seconds remaining in the third period, Weybrew tipped White onto his shoulders and received two points to send the match to overtime, scored 2-2.
After one scoreless overtime period, the Class 1 championship was the lone remaining bout. With all eyes on Mat 1, White chose to go in the offensive position in the first sudden-death period.
With Weybrew unable to escape in the 30 second period, he went to an offensive position for the second sudden-death period and was unable to score a point. In the ultimate tie breaker, Weybrew got within inches of breaking the grip of White, but was unable to escape in the end, giving White the 3-2 victory in the Class 1 championship.
“You can always do better,” Weybrew said, with the emotion of a second consecutive state finals loss setting in. “You have to get better and learn from your mistakes. Just gotta work at it.”
In the overtime periods, head coach Conner Kellerstrass and former head coach Joe Drake were advising Weybrew to stand up quickly to escape White’s grip and score crucial points, as White was able to stall for much of the match.
“(White’s) tough on top and he has been all year,” Kellerstrass said. “We knew we would have to get out to win and unfortunately we just weren’t able to in the last 30 seconds.”
Unable to do so, Weybrew said what he would have changed simply.
“I should have stood up faster,” he said. “I couldn’t really hear Conner until the break happened. Right when the break happened, he (the referee) called stalemate on us.”
In comparison to his district finals bout with White, Weybrew was able to score two points and felt he improved from the defeat, despite walking away with a silver medal.
“I think I did better,” Weybrew said. “I think I worked pretty well on top, especially scoring those last two points. Instead of sitting there, doing nothing and crying about it, I did my best to keep it going.”
Being his head coach for three years, Drake made the trip throughout the postseason to watch the Spoofhounds. After Weybrew’s loss, the two friends shared a moment that summed up the bond the two made in his time at Maryville.
“I tried to give him a little encouragement,” Drake said. “He’s pretty disappointed and I told him he’s got nothing to be ashamed of. It was a tremendous match. I said ‘You never quit. You’ve accomplished alot in four years and you’ve got to be proud of what you’ve done.’
“I thought he wrestled an excellent match. He never quit out there – he kept trying. That’s all you can ask of any kid out there that’s competing.”
Looking back on his career, Weybrew amassed a record of 162-14, made four state appearances and won three medals – including two second place finishes (2014, 2015) and one fourth place finish in 2013.
Despite his career, which is among the best in program history, Weybrew summed up his four years by saying “There’s always more you can do.”
By his senior season, Weybrew was used to the pressure that came with facing the state’s best wrestlers at Mizzou Arena. As a freshman, Weybrew made it to the third round of wrestlebacks before being eliminated. As a junior, Weybrew snagged Maryville’s first heavyweight medal when he placed fourth. His junior year, he found himself in the state championship bout, where he fell, earning a second place medal – all experiences that he feels helped him to his result Saturday.
“Being here definitely is a confidence booster,” Weybrew said following his semifinals victory Feb. 20. “Freshman year, being my first match, I was pretty scared because I had a kid that was ranked ahead of me and I had no idea what was gonna happen. It was my first time here, I just started, I had a decent season.
“Just getting the courage to come out here and do it is amazing,” Weybrew continued. “Once you come here once, you won’t be nervous too much anymore.”
Following the state final loss, many of the Maryville community took to social media to encourage the wrestler who finished his senior season 39-7.
Helluva a career @BWeybrew! Crazy way to end it just wish you would've had last choice. You're one of the best brother #bear
Prior to the Class 1 championship, Weybrew began the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships Thursday with a first-round victory by fall 1:16 into his first match against Drake Higgins (35-16) of Lathrop in the 285-pound division. In Friday’s quarterfinals, Weybrew pinned Kennan Carnes (26-1) of Cleveland NJROTC 3:49 into the match, securing a spot in the semifinals. Facing Chance Cumpton (21-7) of Blair Oaks, Weybrew was able to dominate the match in the first two periods and pinned Cumpton at the 5:13 mark to secure a place in his second consecutive state final.
After his Class 1 final loss, Weybrew said he is still undecided on what his plan is for college – he has the opportunity to play football and wrestle and has not set a timetable for when he will decide.
At the 113-pound division, junior Jacob Partridge was pinned 3:12 into his first career match at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships. Partridge’s season would end in the first-round wrestlebacks on a 7-1 decision, ending his season with a record of 15-33.
Junior Trevor Zimmerman lose his opening match in the 160-pound weight class after placing third at districts to earn a state bid. Zimmerman earned a pin in just 59 seconds in his first-round wrestleback, only to be pinned in the second period the following round. Zimmerman ended his junior season with a record of 30-21.
Kellerstrass said the experience of the first time at state for his juniors will hopefully propel Maryville back to stronger showing at the 2016 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.
“Hopefully those guys will step up and be our team leaders next year and hopefully pick up some of the weight that Nathaniel and Brendan carried all year,” Kellerstrass said. “Hopefully that can bring back some of the other younger guys with them. We could bring six more again next year, hopefully a bit more than that, too. We could come down here and have a few more guys on the podium.
At the 126-pound class, senior Nathaniel Alexander, a two-time medalist,won his opening match by fall in the first period. In the quarterfinals, Alexander battled his way to an 8-2 defeat, which would be his last bout of the tournament after being forced to forfeit his second-round wrestleback due to a shoulder injury.
"I wrestled decent in my first match but, even against a very unskilled wrestler in the first round, my shoulder was hindering me," Alexander said in a text message Saturday evening. "Then when I wrestled smith from Seneca, my shoulder was too weak to defend his shots and I got dropped on (my shoulder) multiple times throughout the match, resulting in it just becoming to much pain to wrestle through."
Kellerstrass said he was upset to see Alexander's career end in such fashion.
“It’s a real unfortunate thing to happen,” Kellerstrass said. “It’s a terrible way to end your career. He had several other accomplishments and still had a great season. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t get it done down here.”
Alexander finished his senior season 39-8 and was a state medalist his sophomore and junior years.
At 132 pounds, sophomore Cayden Dunbar returned to Mizzou Arena for his second state appearance. Dunbar lost his first-round match, getting pinned in the opening period. Dunbar was eliminated from the tournament after getting pinned 54 seconds into his second match. Dunbar finished 35-17 on the season.
Sophomore Matthew Twaddle snagged his second appearance at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships after placing fourth in Class 1 District 4 at 152 pounds. Twaddle lost his opening match by major decision, 10-0, only to come back with a 11-7 victory in his first-round wrestleback. Twaddle’s season would end with a record of 23-13 after a 6-3 loss in his second-round wrestlrback.
Looking back at his first season as head coach, Kellerstrass was pleased with his team and hopes his returners step up in place of Alexander and Weybrew.
“We definitely would’ve liked to get a few more guys on the podium, get a few more wins – but for two of our guys it was their first tournament, their first time being down here,” Kellerstrass said. “It was just a learning experience and they’ll be back next year.”
“We had a really young team and we competed pretty well… Qualifying six to state was a good accomplishment. Hopefully we can build on that next year.”
Saturday evening, Brendan Weybrew will lace up his shoes, toss on his headgear and stand across his opponent in the final wrestling match of the 2015 season. Even though this is his second consecutive appearance in the finals of the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships, Weybrew almost did not give the sport a shot four years ago.
Entering the Class 1 State Finals with a record of 39-6, Weybrew has cemented his name among the best wrestlers in Maryville’s successful history. With a gold medal Saturday, Weybrew would become the 25th Spoofhound to win an individual championship and the first heavyweight title in school history.
“It feels really good,” Weybrew said. “I feel like I’ve wrestled decent this weekend and I just want to keep improving and do the best I can… It’s a great honor to be back in the state championship for heavyweights. It’s the best stage you can be on and it just feels really good.”
Weybrew quickly became a staple on the offensive and defensive lines for the Spoofhounds football program, helping the team to a 42-game winning streak and two state championships. After his freshman year of football, Weybrew was focused on getting in the weight room while Nathaniel Alexander, now a senior and two-time medalist at state, convinced him to turn from the bench press to the wrestling mat.
“Nathaniel helped me even start wrestling back when I was a freshman and I was interested in doing nothing but lift,” Weybrew said. “He pushed me and he’s always pushed me thru my whole career. He’s a really good friend.”
Four seasons later, Weybrew is in his fourth appearance at the state tournament and a state championship would give him 40 wins in each of his four seasons. In 2012, Weybrew fell in the third-round wrestlebacks, despite a 40-10 record. Weybrew was able to snag a 41-5 record and a fourth place finish in 2013, followed by a 42-2 record on the way to a second place finish in 2014.
“This whole season I’ve been working with my coaches and my teammates, and a few Northwest players came in to help me wrestle,” Weybrew said. “That’s always a great help to have anyone come and wrestle.”
Weybrew’s first state title would make him 40-6 on the season and give him a career record of 163-13. He also has the chance to become Maryville’s first state champion since 2010 when Bryce Alexander won in the 160-pound division.
“He has wrestled fantastic,” head coach Connor Kellerstrass. “He has done everything that’s asked of him. We prepared well, he’s excited and he’s motivated. His goal from the beginning of the season was to get that state title and so far he has done what he needs to… He’s wrestling the best right now.”
Regardless of his outcome, Weybrew stands as the lone heavyweight in Maryville history to place at the state tournament.
“Being here definitely is a confidence booster,” Weybrew explained. “Freshman year, being my first match, I was pretty scared because I had a kid that was ranked ahead of me and I had no idea what was gonna happen. It was my first time here, I just started, I had a decent season.
“Just getting the courage to come out here and do it is amazing. Once you come here once, you won’t be nervous too much anymore.”
Weybrew began the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships Feb. 19 with a first-round victory by fall 1:16 into his first match against Drake Higgins (35-16) of Lathrop. In Friday’s quarterfinals, Weybrew pinned Kennan Carnes (26-1) of Cleveland NJROTC 3:49 into the match, securing a spot in the semifinals. Facing Chance Cumpton (21-7) of Blair Oaks, Weybrew was able to dominate the match in the first two periods and pinned Cumpton at 5:13 mark to secure a place in his second consecutive state final.
Following his semifinal victory with nearly every match of the day completed, Weybrew took a seat next to Joe Drake, his former coach who spent 40 years at Maryville. Drake has been around the team throughout the offseason and Weybrew says he still gets tips from the Maryville legend.
“He was saying congratulations and he was proud and ‘let’s go do it tomorrow,’” Weybrew said. “Sometimes he comes and gives me tips and tries to help me wrestle and tells me what I can do better.”
His opponent is one of a familiar nature. Coleman Lawson (49-1) of Mid-Buchanan was his opposition in his 1-0 loss by decision in the Class 1 District 4 finals. That experience, Weybrew says, is one that will give him an advantage come Saturday evening.
“I’m gonna try to work on avoiding his shots, if he takes any,” Weybrew said. “I’m gonna try getting his legs in there so I can take him out.”
Despite Weybrew’s outcome Saturday, he says his mindset will be the same.
“What could I do better? There’s always something to improve on," Weybrew said. "Just the hard work that we put in at Maryville High School – that’s what they enstill in us. You can always do better, even if you do well.”
The MSHSAA Wrestling Championship bouts begin Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Chief Sports Reporter
One Spoofhounds wrestler continues to beat the odds as he heads into the state tournament this weekend.
For the second year in a row, Nathaniel Alexander will head into the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships after suffering a separated shoulder just weeks before. Alexander took first place in the 126-pound weight class in the Class 1 District 4 tournament Saturday.
Luckily, Alexander did not have to wrestle on the first day of the tournament due to a first round bye. This allowed him to get an extra day to heal up, but that does not mean the shoulder injury did not affect his wrestling.
“I was very hesitant on my feet and was really protective of my shoulder,” Alexander said. “In my finals match I think it really did show, especially when I gave up a reversal with 10 seconds left. It hindered me but not enough to stop the outcome.”
Since Alexander took first place in the district tournament, he will not have to wrestle another district winner until the semifinals.
Not only has Alexander been battling an injured shoulder, he also came down with the flu Sunday night, which caused him to miss practice Monday. The extra bed rest from the flu may have helped his shoulder to heal a little faster.
He said that he could already feel a difference in his shoulder Monday and that he thinks it is healing faster each day.
Although Alexander had more time to recuperate from his shoulder injury last year, his confidence is still sky high heading into this season’s state tournament.
“This year I definitely feel that I can wrestle with the best of them in my weight class and I think I have a good shot at going all the way,” Alexander said. “I have been put in prime position, and there is nothing left but to do it. I just have to go out there and wrestle my heart out.”
Alexander may have won the district tournament with a separated shoulder, but he still understands that there are many things he needs to improve this week before heading to the state tournament.
“I have gotten myself into trouble, because I wrestle to go out there and do crazy, exciting moves,” Alexander said. “When I wrestle safer, more strategic and smarter it helps so much, and that is what I really have to focus on.”
Head coach Connor Kellerstrass was very impressed with how Alexander wrestled in the district tournament, but hopes the shoulder does not weigh on his mind going into state.
“Hopefully, throughout the state tournament he will learn to be more confident with his shoulder,” Kellerstrass said. “It is the last tournament of his career so if he leaves it all out there on the mat, hopefully he can get a state title.”
Alexander will not be the only Maryville wrestler heading to Columbia, Missouri. The Hounds qualified six wrestlers for the state tournament which is an improvement from last year when they qualified just four, and is the most since 2008.
“I thought everyone did a great job, and we are taking six down to Columbia,” Kellerstrass said. “Even the young guys that did not make it found ways to get wins, and we got fifth as a team. It was exciting, so we will just build upon that for next year.”
Senior Brendan Weybrew took second place in the district tournament in the 285 pound weight class for his second straight state tournament appearance where he will look to improve on from last year’s second place finish.
Sophomores Cayden Dunbar and Matthew Twaddle will also make their second straight appearance in the state tournament this weekend. Dunbar and Twaddle both placed fourth in districts, Dunbar in the 132 pound weight class and Twaddle in the 152 pound weight class.
Juniors Trevor Zimmerman and Jacob Partridge will wrestle in the state tournament for their first time after qualifying at districts. Zimmerman took third in the 160 pound weight class while Partridge placed fourth in the 113 pound weight class.
Kellerstrass said that this week of practice will be key in preparation for each wrestler that qualified for state.
“We are going to break them all up individually with coaches and just work on each thing from every position,” Kellerstrass said. “There is always things they can improve on, especially not giving up points at the end of periods. They just have to keep themselves in the match and they will be fine.”
The MSHSAA Wrestling Championship begins today in Columbia, Missouri, at Mizzou Arena and ends Saturday afternoon.