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Area wrestlers prepare for district competition

Feb. 14—With a Central Ozark Conference championship already in its pocket, the Carl Junction Bulldog boys wrestling team will look to add another district title to its resume when it hosts the Class 3 District 3 tournament this weekend.

Carl Junction will be defending the district title it won last year — the first one in 25 years.

CJ Junior Carter Foglesong will help lead a dominant group of wrestlers at the lower weights for the Bulldogs. Foglesong (39-1), at 113 pounds, was one of four Carl Junction COC champions that included senior Sam Melton (24-3) at 120 pounds, senior Max Matthews (26-12) at 126 pounds, and junior Tony Stewart (41-3) at 175 pounds, and last year's state runner-up at 165 pounds.

Melton also claimed a district title last year and was a state runner-up in 2022 at 113 pounds and last year at 120 pounds. Foglesong was a district champion and fourth-place finisher at the state championships last year at 106 pounds.

In total, the Bulldogs return six of their nine state qualifiers from last year, including Marcus Lopez-Durman and Dexter Merrell. Lopez-Durman (29-6) was a district runner-up last year at 150 pounds and finished second this year at the COC championships. Merrell (32-8) also qualified for state last year with a third-place district finish at 157 pounds. He finished third at the COC meet this year.

Carl Junction is currently ranked seventh in the state.

McDonald County

McDonald County finished fifth last year at the state tournament and Carl Junction was sixth. The Mustangs have two returning state champions in Jayce Hitt (35-3) at 215 pounds and Sam Murphy (40-3) at 285 pounds.

McDonald County and Webb City both will compete at the Carl Junction district tournament.

McDonald County's Hitt and Murphy both won Big 8 titles this year.

Joplin, Neosho, Carthage

Joplin, Neosho and Carthage will all compete at the Class 4 District 3 tournament at Raymore-Peculiar on Friday and Saturday..

Joplin features junior Josiah Hazelwood (24-9), who was COC runner-up at 285 pounds, and freshman Lucas Allen (18-9), who finished fourth in the COC at 106 pounds.

Neosho includes sophomore Carter Howard (35-4), who was state runner-up last year as a freshman at 138 pounds, and COC champ this year at 144 pounds. The Wildcats finished seventh at the state meet last year. Neosho freshman Lincoln Howard (22-16) was COC runner-up at 150 pounds and sophomore Chase Kivett (33-9) was third at 165 pounds at this year's COC meet.

Carthage is led by senior Bradyn Tate (44-2) who claimed a COC championship this year at 138 pounds. They also feature junior Tanner Putt (35-5) who finished second in the COC at 106 pounds after dropping a match with Branson's Ryzen Isringhausen. Carthage junior David Recinos (30-8) at 215 pounds also finished second in his class at the COC tourney.

Seneca, Diamond

The Seneca Indians will be at the Class 2 District 3 championships in Eldon this weekend. Seneca is currently ranked ninth in the state. They are 10-1 in duals this season, dropping just one match, a 38-37 loss to Melissa, Texas, on Dec. 15.

The Indians finished first in the Big 8 conference this year, besting runner-up McDonald County 385-328 and earning five individual championships.

Seneca freshman Jaxon Rhoads (24-10) captured the Big 8 title at 106 pounds, and Brant Laughlin (37-3), also a freshman, was first at 126 pounds. Sophomore Eli Manley (29-8) also won a conference title at 132 pounds, and senior Andrew Manley was champion at 144 pounds.

Andrew Manley is perfect at 40-0 this year. Sophomore Jace Renfro (38-2) also finished first at 190 pounds.

Andrew Manley was a state runner-up at 144 pounds last year and Renfro finished fourth at 190 pounds.

Seneca also finished with three runners-up at its conference meet. Sophomore Paxton Bruegal (26-9) was second at 113 pounds, senior Keatin Burleson (27-7) was runner-up at 120 pounds, and senior Trentyn Raney (29-13) was second at 138 pounds.

Diamond will be at the Class 1 District 2 tourney in Butler.

Junior 215-pounder Bradyn Clement (23-7) qualified for state with a fourth-place finish at districts last year.

Girls wrestling

Girls wrapped up their district competitions last weekend with a quartet of local female athletes finishing with impressive results.

Seneca seniors Louzella Graham (41-7) at 120 pounds, and undefeated Isabella Renfro (43-0) at 190 pounds, both earned district titles in their Class 1 District 3 tournament in Nevada. Renfro, a Fort Hays State commit, was also perfect last season (47-0) and captured a state title at 190 pounds. Graham (42-12) was fifth at state last year at 115 pounds.

Joplin Senior Erika Washom (28-4) finished second last week at 140 pounds during the Class 2 District 3 tournament in Belton. Washom was Joplin's first state qualifier for girls last year. Neosho's Melanie Butler (26-5) also was second at 170 pounds.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association state wrestling championships begin Feb 21 and continue through Feb. 24 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Boys Class 1 and 2 and Girls Class 1 will be Feb. 21-22, and Boys Class 3 and 4 and Girls Class 2 will be Feb. 23-24. This year marks the 94th Boys MSHSAA Wrestling Championships and the sixth Girls MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.