Four Fewer Wrestlers Will Get Their Shot This Year

With new state wrestling rules, the postseason will be exceedingly competitive.


Mike Rohlfing

Ben VanZee in a tie-up in his senior night match.

For the returning wrestlers, this year’s postseason is looking a little different. In years past, everything during the year led up to a sixteen-man district tournament. Each class would have four districts of sixteen teams. In order to clinch your ticket to the dance, you had to be in the top four in your District.

Due to COVID, however, the state has changed the postseason in an effort to reduce the number of people together at the same time.

Consequently, MSHSAA added a sectional round in between districts and state to reduce the number of wrestlers in the state tournament from sixteen to twelve, meaning four less wrestlers will qualify for the state tournament; this allows the tournament to be completed in one day rather than two.

The team had a strong showing at the district tournament on Saturday, February 13th, The team qualified eight of the ten wrestlers they had competing including one champ, two runner ups, two third place finishers, and three fourth place finishers.

Nolan Jones, junior, had nothing to lose Saturday. Because of a weird year with COVID and possibly other reasons, Jones simply had to manage not getting thrown out of a match in order to move on to sectionals, as he only had four wrestlers in his 138 pound bracket. Jones won both of his matches, making him the champ and putting him in a good spot for the sectionals tournament.

All five seniors hit the medal stand that Saturday. Brett St. John, senior and returning state qualifier wrestling at 152 pounds, came up short in a one point match against Sullivan’s Ty Shetley for the championship.

Kirk Briden had a tough one as well in the championship match, taking second in the 160 pound weight class. Both will see the third place finisher in their weight class from district one in their first match at sectionals.

Ben Van Zee, senior, grabbed third place with a last second take down in overtime in the 145 pound weight class. Mark Stump, senior, also took third in a nine to zero victory over his opponent from Sullivan.

Lincoln Chimento, senior, Roger Jinkins, sophomore, and Jack Maher, sophomore, all took fourth place at their weights; 182,195, and 220, respectively. These three will be fighting an uphill battle at sectionals, having to face off with the winner from district one, in their first match.

Going into districts, the wrestlers were seeded for the tournament based on their season. Similarly, for sectionals, the wrestlers will be seeded based on their finishes in the district tournament.

The Cats are in class two district two this year, and this year, two districts feed into a sectional. Therefore, the four qualifiers from Westminster’s district will go into an eight man tournament with the four qualifiers from district one.

The Cats look to qualify more than their lone qualifier last year. The eight sectional qualifiers have two weeks to prepare to fight for their opportunity to travel to Independence Missouri and compete for a state title.