Oakville Senior High wrestlers defy odds, grab 12th place at state tournament


For the Call

The numbers game is no concern for the Oakville Senior High wrestling team.

Unlike several teams at last weekend’s state championships with more than a handful of wrestlers entered in the state tournament, the Tigers brought just four. But those four Tigers did more than their share of damage in Colum-bia as they scored 41 points to give Oakville a strong 12th-place finish.

“The kids wrestled well,” Oakville head coach Tony Warren told the Call. “The fact that we had all four wrestling on Saturday was an accomplishment. The bottom line is that I was really proud of the kids.”

The Tigers had two third-place finishers as junior Darren Green grabbed the consolation championship at 119 pounds along with senior Ryan Sutton at 215 pounds.

In the consolation championship at 119 pounds, Green squared off against sophomore John VanVelkingburgh of Francis Howell North, whom he lost to 5-0 in the state quarterfinal. The second time around was payback for Green, defeating VanVelkingburgh 4-2 to clinch third place.

“We’ve been on him (Green) about opening up his offensive attack,” Warren explained.

“He went out and got in quick with a takedown in the first period. It really wasn’t that close because he was in control during the entire match,” Warren said.

Sutton also was successful in a rematch at 215 pounds, facing senior Travis Drake of Lee’s Summit. The two grapplers previously met in the state quarterfinal with Drake coming away with a 4-2 victory. But in the rematch, Sutton took down Drake in the second period to seal a 3-2 victory and a third-place finish.

“The big thing for Ryan was the takedown he had in the second period,” Warren said. “That was the difference in the match.”

Two other Tigers enjoying success at state were senior Matt Mitchell at 145 pounds and junior Kyle Foley at 152 pounds. Mitchell advanced to the consolation quarterfinal where he suffered a 4-3 decision to senior Joe Snyder of Francis Howell North High School.

“Matt’s such a great kid and a good team leader,” Warren said. “It was such a tough loss. It was hard on everyone because he was awfully close.”

Foley also lost in the consolation quarterfinal with an 11-3 decision to senior James Evans of Oak Park. Foley had a good showing at the state tournament, Warren said, and should build on this experience for next season.

“Kyle wrestled well,” Warren said. “He got behind against Evans and that put him into a situation where he (Foley) had to press. He had a good tournament and I think this was a good learning experience for him.”

While Mitchell and Sutton part from Oakville, Green and Foley will bring their experience back for another run at a state title. Warren believes they will form a good building block for the 2005-2006 Oakville wrestling team.

“At Oakville, there’s an expectation of doing well at state,” Warren said. “We’ve got a lot of young talent that’s made a lot of progress. It’s now up to them as to how good they want to be.”