Junior Wildcats complete wrestling season on a high note

By: Jeff Stahlhut, Correspondent
Posted 4/9/21

For the Wright City Junior Wildcat wrestlers, last month’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Wrestling Tournament and Girls USA State 2021 was an opportunity to see where the team stacked up against …

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Junior Wildcats complete wrestling season on a high note

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For the Wright City Junior Wildcat wrestlers, last month’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Wrestling Tournament and Girls USA State 2021 was an opportunity to see where the team stacked up against nearly 50 other teams from across the state of Missouri. 

With strong showings up and down the roster the Junior Wildcats did just that, finishing in 12th place as a team — including a pair of individual champions.

At USA State, Monica Theis won the 151-pound championship. A Holt High School wrestler, Theis won by fall at 2:36 of the first round, by fall at 3:04 of the second round and by fall at 1:54 in the championship match over Kayla Hodges of the Jackson Indians. 

“Monica has been helping coach the kids and has been a great asset to our team,” said Junior Wildcat coach Tony Pecaut. “She is someone these kids look up to to see what hard work and dedication can lead to.”

In the 140-145 pound division, Caelyn Hanff was the Pool A winner but took second place after losing by decision — 8-5 — in the first place match to Ellyse Lorenson from the Palmyra Youth Wrestling Club. Hanff, the returning USA Girls State champion, won her first match by fall at the 1:20 mark, won her second match by fall in just 24 seconds, and continued her dominance with a fall in only 37 seconds in the third round. 

“Caelyn fought hard throughout this tournament,” said Pecaut. “She had big shoes to fill as the returning champion.”

Hanff was the only girl in the 140-145 pound class at the AAU tournament and took fourth place, finishing her season with a record of 10-18 with nine pins. 

“This is Caelyn’s last year as a Junior Wildcat and it will be strange not having her around,” Pecaut said. “We will really miss her corky personality and Tik-Tok dance moves during practice. I have a feeling Caelyn will do well in high school wrestling. The base has been built, she will just need to strive to improve day by day and to remember to continue to believe in herself.”

Also at AAU, Brantley Pecaut brought home a championship in the Bantam 65-pound division and was a Missouri AAU Triple Crown recipient in his third season with the team. He finished the season with a record of 32-22 with 21 pins, including a fall at the 1:40 mark of the championship match over Gauge Haverstick of the De Soto Dragons Wrestling Club. 

“The AAU Triple Crown is a prestigious award as you must be the champion at the AAU Missouri Challenge, AAU Ozark Districts and AAU Missouri State to receive the triple crown,” said Tony Pecaut. “Brantley is the first Junior  Wildcat to receive the Triple Crown and first Junior Wildcat AAU state champion.”

Taking second place in the Cadet 125-pound bracket was Lane Graves, who finished the season with a record of 13-16 with 11 pins, losing by fall in the final round at the 1:13 mark to Rome Tate from the Team St Louis Wrestling Club. 

“Lane started mid season with us as he committed to another sport during the time of uncertainty if we were going to be able to have a season,” said Pecaut. “Lane has really stepped up this year and is a great leader to have in the room. We will surely miss him next year as he moves onto high school.”

Also taking second place was Sebastian Cardoza, who finished the season with a record of 14-17 with four pins, including a fall at the 1:10 mark of the finals over Aiden Steel of Junior Trojan Wrestling. 

“This is Sebi’s first year wrestling (he is four) but it is something that he has grown up with the last three years with his brother Hector on our team,” said Pecaut. “Sebi has made great improvement throughout the season and we can not wait to see what next year holds for him.”

At the 55-pound weight class, Chase Edwards took fourth place and finished the season 30-4 with six pins. 

“Chase came into the sport like he was born for it,” said Pacaut. “Chase had an outstanding rookie season and I perceive he should continue to excel as the years pass.”

Hector Cardoza took fifth place in the 70-pound bracket. With 13 pins on the year, Cardoza finished the season with a record of 24-20. 

“Hector has been with the Junior Wildcats since our inaugural season three years ago,” said Pecaut. “I am proud of the leaps in bounds Hector has made this year. Wrestling is truly his sport and he shows up each and every practice with an outstanding attitude and drive to improve.” 

Jack Dutton, who finished the year with a record of 12-17 with seven pins, took sixth place in the 55-pound division. 

“This is Jack’s second season with the Junior Wildcats and he is someone that is always pushing to improve in the room,” said Pecaut. “I foresee that as long as ‘Captain Jack’ continues the great work ethic in the room it will start to show in competition as it did throughout the end of the season.”

In a season that faced a lot of challenges, Pecaut was thankful that the season was able to go on despite COVID-19 and the difficulties it created. 

“We have had a tough year as a team due to the pandemic. With the COVID restrictions we were not allowed to practice at the Wright City High School like normal and in turn we actually had to purchase our own mat as a club,” he said. “There was a lot of work put on by the Board of Directors at the beginning of the season as we searched for a facility that was willing to house our team. We are thankful that the Wright City Lions Club let us use their facility for practice so our kids were able to have a wrestling season. We are so thankful for the generosity and hospitality the Lions Club and Austin Jones from the Lions Club Board of Directors have provided our team. This season would not have been possible without them.

wrestling, Wright City Middle School

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