Lady Dragons take MEC title
ST. JOSEPH — The Cameron Lady Dragons nearly had a near flawless Midland Empire Conference Tournament performance while capturing the MEC championship Saturday.
With all of the Lady Dragons either taking gold or silver, Cameron finished atop the final standings more than 200 points ahead of second-place Chillicothe.
“It shows the amount of teamwork we’ve put in during practice,” said Celeste Greer, who earned an MEC championship in the lightweight division. “What sets us apart is how aggressive and determined we are. We know we have really hard practices and take the time out of our day to really breakdown the steps to taking our opponent down.”
(19-1), sophomore lightweight
After taking her first loss of the season last week in Winnetonka, Greer came back with a vengeance. After a first-round bye, she returned for a first-period pin over Lafayette’s Makayla Tovey (22-15) 23 seconds before the whistle. In round three, she bested her previous match by 30 seconds by pinning Maryville’s Avery White (6-4) after just passing the 1-minute mark. With the Lady Dragons likely to see the same opponents in districts, Greer said they will have much more confidence when the stakes are much higher.
“If we can beat them once, then it doesn’t get in our heads,” Greer said. “We’re not thinking, what if this girl beats me? What if she does something I don’t know how to get out of? It gives us a boast in confidence.”
(14-4), sophomore 110 pounds
Yamat blitzed through the competition Saturday after a trio of pins with none of her matches going past three periods. She kicked off the day with a second-period pin of Benton’s Lexi Petersen (17-7), then shaved a minute off her next match with a pin of Chillicothe’s Abigail Clements just 36 second into the third period and wrapped up her day with a first-period pin of Lafayette’s Isa-Bella Mendoza (24-8).
Hannah Husch (11-7), senior 120 pounds
Husch had an interesting day, besting Chillicothe’s Gabrielle Wigchert (3-4) in a best of three matches showdown for the MEC title. Husch pinned Wigchert twice with the first coming 1:33 into the first round and the second 1:02 in the same period.
Christina Herring (17-4), sophomore 125 pounds
Similar to Husch, Herring only had one other competitor in her weight class, who she easily defeated in a pair of first-period pins. Herring dispatched Savannah’s Saige Pankau (13-11) with a pin just before the first-period buzzer, then bested her time by 23 seconds in round two to take gold.
Kierstin Manley (13-5), freshman 130 pounds
In her first year of high school wrestling, Manley brought home the gold with a pair of pins over Savannah’s Grace Bradley (2-8) and Chillicothe’s Karyna Ireland (6-4). After a first-round bye, Manley pinned Bradley 11 seconds before the first-period buzzer and was only 26 seconds into the second period before pinning Ireland, taking first-place in the process.
Makayla Provin (16-5), junior 135 pounds
Provin sustained the Lady Dragons’ first loss of the day after falling to a third-period pin by Savannah’s Jocelyn Cunningham (8-7). She rebounded with a third-period pin of Chillicothe’s Summer Drake (5-5), then locked down second place in the four-person round robin with a second-period pin of Benton’s Tatum Levendahl (16-7).
Skylee Smith (17-6), junior 142
Smith wasted no time in tearing through the competition, spending less than 2 minutes of her day on the mat. After a first-round bye, Smith dropped Benton’s Faith Cook (4-15) via pin just 24 seconds into the match, then took gold after knocking off Chillicothe’s Addison Lewis (3-4) via pin with 34 seconds left in the first.
“We’ve been working really hard and it’s nice to see all of our hard work pay off,” Smith said. “The conditioning definitely helps because the other girls are worn out by the time we get to the second period. It’s a big factor. I need to work a lot more on technique. I have the skills. I just need to perfect them.”
Abigayle Provance, (14-6), sophomore 152
Provance easily bested Taylor Owen of Savannah (8-13) with a first-period pin, then followed it with a pin of Chillicothe’s Hailey Fahling (5-7) 38 seconds into the third period, but could not replicate her success in the third round after falling to undefeated Maryville freshman Katie Weiss to take silver.
Madison Manley (13-5), sophomore 166
No competitor facing Manly made it past the halfway point of the second-round as the sophomore standout cruised to an MEC title. She began the day by trouncing Benton’s Cadence Chenoweth (16-7), then dropped Maryville’s Amber Ebrecht (10-3) a minute into the second period to take gold.
“We earn what we get. I need to work on not getting tired easily, I have to push myself more”, Manley said.
Hollie Hedgpeth (19-3), freshman 187
With only Maryville’s Cameron Mackey (3-5) standing in her way, Hedgpeth made her journey to an MEC title in less than a minute. She began the best-of-three series with a pin in the first period with just 35 seconds left, then replicated her performance in the second with 21 seconds on the clock to take gold.
Senior 115-pounder Hannah Burkhart (3-5) and sophomore heavyweight Jessica Tanguay (13-9) brought home gold as a consolation due to having no other competitors in their weight classes.