By ERIC X. VICCARO
PARK HILLS — Smell that.
That’s the aroma of home cooking in the very near future for the Ste. Genevieve High School boys’ wrestling squad.
Twelve of 14 Dragons advanced to sectionals based off of top-3 performances at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 2 District 1 Tournament this past Saturday at Central High School’s Foulon Field House.
The Dragons also claimed their ninth district championship under award-winning head coach Jared Bonnell.
“I’m really happy,” Bonnell said. “We had 12 wrestling in the finals, and we’re happy to have four champions.”
The Dragon program has lofty standards, and the coach said some of the wrestlers thought they were mentally tight — and others might have been too aggressive taking chances with their shots.
Regardless, Ste. Genevieve dominated the district meet, accumulating 211.5
points, 56.5 points more than runner-up Dexter.
Bonnell said he hopes the Dragons can avoid the fatigue factor, especially noting the prolonged wrestling playoffs this year. The season began with training sessions in early November.
The Dragons still have 10 days to go before the Class 2 sectional meet on Feb. 27, which will take place here at SGHS’s Peggy J. Johnson Gymnasium.
Senior Dalton McNeal was among four Dragons to win gold medals.
McNeal, who improved to 32-5 on the season, won by injury default in 1:05 over Herculaneum’s Josh Hurt in the 126-pound championship bout.
Bryant Schwent (113) won his 22nd match of the season with a first-period pin over Dexter’s Diego McCormick (1:55).
Gage Gross needed nearly the entire first period (1:59) to win by pin over Kennett’s Gavin Peterson in the 106-pound title bout. Gross has suffered just one loss this season.
Gavin Gross (24-5), at 132, dominated Notre Dame Regional’s Owen Dowdy, scoring five team points with a technical fall. The match was stopped at the 4:16 mark after Gross had built up a whopping 17-0 cushion.
Gabriel Willett, who Bonnell said gave up plenty of weight to his opposition, was one of eight Dragons placing second.
Willett, with just 10 varsity matches this season, lost by fall in :28 against Park Hills Central’s Troy Harris at 195 pounds.
“He did great,” Bonnell said. “He stepped into the lineup, and he made the minimum weight to compete (at 195 pounds, which is 175-76). He was able to get points for us by being unselfish.”
Dale Propst and Ryan Schmelzle reached the finals in the heaviest two weight groups. The Rebels’ Austin Carver pinned Propst (14-4) in :26. Potosi’s Luis Ortiz earned a hard-fought 1-0 decision over Schmelzle (27-9).
Other Dragons to advance thanks to second-place finishes were Nich Wirick (120), Nathan Selby (138), Levi Wiegand (152), Kaleb Myracle (160) and Ethan Ogden (170).
Park Hills Central’s Hunter Settles powered past Myracle on a 4-3 decision at 160, dropping Kaleb to 25-12 on the season. The Rebels’ Colton Bess pinned Wiegand in 5:18 in yet another competitive title bout.
Ste. Genevieve has won a district title roughly 75 percent of the time since Bonnell took over as head coach 12 years ago.
Autumn Basler, Izzy Basler and Maggie Myracle will represent Ste. Genevieve at the girls’ sectional meet set for Saturday.
Autumn Basler competes in the 117-pound weight division, with Izzy Basler at 127 and Maggie Myracle 195.
The top-three girls in each of the 14 weight classes will advance to the state meet set for March 9 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.
Bonnell reported the opening round will begin at 10 a.m., with the medal round starting at about 3:30 p.m.