Collinville’s varsity dual team rolled out their home mats for one of their most challenging duals. For years, the Cardinals have faced the Neosho Wildcats. Collinsville, taking State several years in Oklahoma, either host or visit the Wildcats, who have taken State several times in Missouri. The dual of champions, held every year and is one of the Cardinals’ fiercest matches. But lately, both teams have been seemingly experiencing a reloading season. The Cardinals had several wrestlers injured over winter break and were not yet back to their full strength. Neosho had let go of several seniors and were dealing with wrestlers fresh off of injury as well. Nevertheless, these two State contending teams were about to throw down in some of their toughest matches of the year.
At 106lbs, Garrett Strickland was wrestling his first varsity dual against the Wildcats. The freshman wrestler was caught in a tactical match against a strong opponent. Strickland lost by a minor decision score of 2-4, giving Neosho an early team lead of 3-0. The Wildcat lead pushed to 9-0 when Collinsville had to forfeit at 113lbs due to lack of wrestlers. Then, at 120lbs, was Eli Benham. Facing a much older opponent, Benham had his work cut out for him, but he proved himself the better wrestler as he claimed victory with a last second takedown. Benham was awarded the two points for the takedown, giving him the win by minor decision with a 3-2 score. Collinsville trailed Neosho 3-9.
The home team needed the next weight to be a win and it was almost guaranteed as Caleb Tanner took the mats for weight 126lbs. The Wildcat opponent was no match for the sophomore Collinsville wrestler. Tanner shut out his opponent with an 11-0 score and claimed victory by major decision. Connor Henson then gave Collinsville the lead. A tedious and tactical match at 132lbs, Henson claimed the early takedown, holding a small lead of 2-1. Henson was able to ride his opponent until the very end of the clock, giving the Junior a major decision victory and Collinsville the lead at 10-9.
At 138lbs, Xavear Cullors was a needed victory for Collinsville. The Cards held a small need, but needed Cullors to pull through. Though the Senior wrestler is one of Collinsville’s best, his opponent was one of Neosho’s best. The Neosho Senior was the reigning State Champ at 138lbs in Missouri and was eagerly looking towards another State Championship. Expecting to walk all over Cullors, the visitor quickly stepped on the matts. Xavear Cullors gave the Missouri champion the match of his life. Several tosses, rolls, and slams kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Cullors held the led until the last two seconds when the Neosho wrestler completed the final takedown, stealing away the victory. A tough match, but Cullors just barely fell short at 4-5.
Kolten Allphen reclaimed the lead for Collinsville at 145lbs. Allphen took an early lead and held it the entire match which gave him the victory with a score of 8-5. Blake Nation, senior at 152lbs, claimed victory in his first home varsity dual. Nation took complete control over his opponent throughout the entire match. The Wildcat opponent only scored by escaping whenever Nation allowed him to get up and then quickly return him to the ground with another takedown. The Cardinals wrestler put the home crowd on their feet as he won by major decision with a score of 13-3. Tony Connor, 160lbs Senior, extended collinsville’s lead quickly. The Neosho wrestler was no match for Connor. The 160lb Cardinal pinned his opponent after an immediate takedown in the first period.
Collinsville then experienced a series of losses to end the night. Logan Sieminskie lossed by pin fall at 170lbs and then Collinsville gave up two more forfeits at 182lbs and 195lbs due to lack of wrestlers. Zach Morris followed after losing by pin fall at 220lbs. Then at HWT, Kaden Jones, a freshman wrestler for Collinsville, was facing against a Senior, two-time Missouri State Champion. The Wildcat pinned the Cardinal HWT and took a quick victory. The series of Losses pushed Neosho’s score well above Collinsville’s. The Wildcats claimed team victory with a final score of 42-23.
The Cardinal varsity dual team is experiencing major challenges in duals with their many holes in the line-up, but victories are still being produced in many tournaments. The Cardinal wrestlers are a powerful tournament team, but are struggling in duals in the early season. But looking at the coaching record of Coach Wes Harding, this team could easily be at the top of the State podium a the end of the season.