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High School Wrestling: Jackson wins annual Tiger Classic once again

The Jackson wrestling team is already displaying dominance early in the season as the Indians won the annual Tiger Classic for the second-consecutive year by a wide margin this weekend.

Jackson led all 12 teams with 361 points as 11 of the team’s wrestlers medaled, while nine of them advanced to their respective championship match as five came away with their hand held high. The Indians total score was 45.5 points ahead of runner-up Christian County, which finished with 315.5 points.

The five Indians who won their weight class were seniors Cole Amelunke (195 pounds), Alec Bailey (126) and Riley Wiseman (113), while juniors Garner Horman (152) and Cole Parker (182) took first as well.

Bailey (12-0) captured his fourth individual Tiger Classic Championship with three pinfalls, one medical forfeit and finally a major decision to place first overall at 126.

On day two in the bracket portion of the tournament, Bailey defeated Northwest’s Landon Rogers (5-6) by pinning him with 42 seconds left in the first period. Bailey then received a medical forfeit from Cape Central’s August Phegley, which led him to face Christian County’s Ethan Wells (8-2) for the title.

This was the first match that lasted all three periods for Bailey, but he came away with a 11-0 major decision over Wells to claim his second tournament title this season and remain undefeated.

“Alec has been wrestling at the top of his game — we’ve been really proud of him,” Jackson head coach Steve Wachter said. “His attitude and focus has been tremendous, so that was a great accomplishment to win [at the Tiger Classic] four times. It’s really hard to pull that off.”

Amelunke (8-0) and Horman (5-0) were both members of Jackson’s football team, so coming into the Tiger Classic neither had logged more than two weeks of practice. However, both of them have yet to lose a match thus far.

Amelunke won the 195-pound Tiger Classic title with three pinfalls, one major decision and one overtime win in the championship bout. Horman was able to win his weight class of 152 pounds by recording four pins and finally a technical fall in the first-place match.

“Both of their air is not real well yet for wrestling because wrestling is a lot more cardio,” Coach Wachter said. “They’ve both had outstanding effort and have wrestled tremendously for the [limited] amount of time they’ve been on the mat [this year].”

Amelunke faced a crosstown rival in Cape Central’s Josh Pullen (15-2) in his championship match, which he won 4-2 in sudden victory. He pinned Francis Howell North’s Jesse Collins (3-3) in the quarterfinals and handed University City’s Dariuan Pointer (12-1) his first loss of the season with an 8-0 win in the semifinals.

Horman’s championship match against Paducah Tilghman’s David Conner (4-1) did not reach the third and final period as Horman teched him at 15-0 for the junior to claim another Tiger Classic Championship.

None of Horman’s matches in this tournament went into the third period as he pinned Park Hills Central’s Blake Bolin (9-5) with 43 seconds left in the first period of the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Horman pinned Northwest’s Hunter Melber (9-2) three minutes and four seconds into the match.

The final two Tiger Classic Champions for Jackson, Riley Wiseman (11-1) and Parker (10-2), had their first-place bouts last all three periods and ended via decision.

Wiseman recorded four-straight pinfalls before wrestling for the 113-pound title, where he faced Francis Howell North’s Mason Apple (4-1). Wiseman was able to come away victorious over Apple by one point at 5-4.

Wiseman pinned Northwest’s Kody Kretzer (4-6) with one minute left in the second period of the quarterfinal round, while he took four minutes and 52 seconds to pin Christian County’s Nathan Hale (9-5) in the semifinals.

Parker also won his first four matches wrestled by pinfall as he put Poplar Bluff’s Riley Sater’s (9-10) shoulders to the mat in the first period of the quarterfinals. He then pinned Park Hills Central’s Jacob Looney (4-4) with 21 seconds left in the third period to reach the 182-pound title match.

Parker faced Christian County’s own Cameron Coleman (10-3) for the title and defeated him 10-7 in what was a rematch of the 2018 Tiger Classic 170-pound title match, where Parker pinned Coleman 23 seconds into the first period.

Reaching their respective championship match but failing to win the title for the Indians were the likes of seniors Grady Livingston (132), Noah Uhrhan (160), Rhett Wiseman (120) and sophomore Liam Bryant (285).

Bryant, Uhrhan and Wiseman each fell to opponents who were undefeated, while Livingston’s competition for first place only had one loss.

Bryant (6-1), who also has had limited practice time after playing for the football team, recorded three pins before facing New Madrid County Central’s Herman Jackson (15-0) for the heavyweight championship.

In the quarterfinals, Bryant pinned Northwest’s Andrew Hinchey (5-6) 56 seconds into the match, while it took three periods for him to pin down Poplar Bluff’s Preston Taylor (11-1) with 38 seconds left in the semifinals. Bryant suffered the same outcome against Jackson for the 285-pound title as the sophomore was pinned 38 seconds into the second period.

Livingston (10-2) and Wiseman (10-2) entered the tournament with one loss each as Rhett fell to the hands of Christian County’s Gage Fowler (12-0) by a 5-0 decision for the 120-pound championship. Livingston fell to Park Hills Central’s Kade Willis by major decision at 11-2 in the 132-pound match for first.

Uhrhan (10-3) came into the classic with two losses, where he recorded three pins, one technical fall and a decision before falling to Valle Catholic’s Trey Huck (8-0) for the 160-pound title. Uhrhan lost the match by decision at 12-8.

Three other members of the varsity team managed to place in the top five as seniors David Ekstam (11-1) and Levi Kaelin (12-2) took third at 220 and 145 pounds respectively, while 138-pound freshman Garner Horman (6-3) placed fifth overall.

Ekstam lost his first match of his final season with Jackson in the semifinals against eventual 220 runner-up in Niko Bussell out of Christian County by pinfall. Ekstam then won his next two matches by pin to take third.

Kaelin fell to Christian County’s Jakerion Merritt (8-0) in the semifinals by a 16-6 major decision, who went on to win the 145-pound Tiger Classic title. Kaelin won his final two matches of the tournament by decision to place third overall.

Horman fell to Poplar Bluff’s Quinten Bell (16-3) by a 7-5 decision in the quarterfinals before falling to University City’s Jalen McKee (11-2) 5-2 in the consolation semifinals. This placed Horman in the 138-pound fifth-place match, which he won by major decision at 14-4.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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