Ladue sends record nine wrestlers to state
Most wrestling teams will call it a successful year when they are able to send three or four wrestlers to the state meet. Five or six wrestlers earning a chance to win the medal is considered a great year. This year however, the Ladue wrestling team has gone up and above the norm by sending a total of nine wrestlers, the most in recent memory. Seniors Evan Morrison, Chris Shirley, Matan Gazit, Charlie Berry, juniors Grant Sachs, Chase Ridenour, Jeffery Orr, Antonio Escobar and sophomore Maffit Rolla will all be making the drive down to the University of Missouri for a chance to win the state medal. The feeling of making it to state is like none other for these wrestlers.
“I was so tired after my match, but so happy. I went and ran off the mat to the locker room after getting my hand raised and thought about how much work I had put in to get there,” morrison said.
This hard work demonstrated by the nine state qualifiers and by the team as a whole is one of the main reasons the team has had so much success. Ladue boasts an overall record of 22-0 with four tournament victories and a second place finish at districts. The most impressive victory for the Rams came when they won the DeSmet tournament. The highest ranking a Ladue team had ever gotten in that tournament was fifth.
“This team has worked as hard or harder than any team that I have worked with,” head coach Kevin Clawson said. “They have really bought into what I ask them to do and understand that everything the coaching staff asks of them is for their benefit.”
From the beginning of the year, the coaching staff knew that this team had the potential to have a successful season and send wrestlers to the state match. Putting all the pieces together was the only thing the team needed to do to be successful.
“I knew we had a chance to do something special but there were several weight classes where things needed to go just right to qualify that many guys,” Clawson said. “The coaching staff had talked about the possibility but it was great to watch the kids make it happen.”
As with any great team, leadership is an important factor. The team had solid leadership from the seniors such as Morrison and Berry, but the team has also been able to receive leadership and inspiration from a wrestler in the junior class.
“I think the one person who served as a leader the most was Antonio Escobar because that with just determination that anything is possible,” Berry said. “Antonio wrestles and has a job during the season, which is an incredible thing to do.”
Of the nine wrestlers attending the state match, Ridenour might have been the biggest surprise. Ridenour one is district championship by beating two wrestlers ranked in the top eight in the state. Ridenour plans to use his success in the district tournament as preparation for his state match.
“Coming out out as a district champion is a big thing,” Ridenour said. “I have a number one seed going into state and knowing that I can hang with the top kids which I proved at districts has given me the drive to go to state and get the job done.”
Mental preparation is one of the keys to success before any match. Shirley, who was forced to default out of his match last year because of injury, is only focusing on his goal.
“I plan to just get into the proper mental attitude,” Shirley said. “My only focus is wrestling right now, not on one of my multitude of other problems.”
The coaching staff has been instrumental in helping this team achieve its success. However, now that the state meet is upon the wrestlers, the coaches can only give the kids last minute advice and encouragement.
“ The one thing I’ve told the wrestlers is to be selfish and win a medal for themselves because they have earned it,” assistant coach Brian Archibald said. “Go get what is yours.”
While each one of the nine wrestlers attending the state match have the goal of winning, the main thing for each wrestler to do is play hard. If this is done, the coaching staff and the individuals will be satisfied.
“Each wrestler I am sure has there own goal but all I want is for them to go out and there and give their best effort,” Clawson said. “If they do that they will no regrets whether they win or lose. If we bring home some medals that would be great but the experience of wrestling on the mats at Mizzou Arena is something the kids will never forget.”