Warrenton Seniors Become First Three-Sport State Qualifiers

By Derrick Forsythe, Record Sports Editor
Posted 8/6/11

For a pair of recent Warrenton graduates, the stars seemed to align during their senior year. From one sports season to the next, Justin Greene and Reece Berry prospered, leaving their legacy among …

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Warrenton Seniors Become First Three-Sport State Qualifiers


For a pair of recent Warrenton graduates, the stars seemed to align during their senior year. From one sports season to the next, Justin Greene and Reece Berry prospered, leaving their legacy among Warrior Nation. Gradually, from their freshman year on, Warrenton's sports teams began to rise to prominence. What was once a dormant football program rose from the ashes. The wrestling program accomplished new levels of success. The boys track program that had been nonexistent on the state level sparked new life. Greene and Berry were a part of each of this triumphs. Never before had a male athlete at Warrenton competed on the state level in three sports during the same school year until now. "It feels great knowing not many people have done that and that me and Justin have accomplished so much in just one year," said Berry. The duo did their best to enjoy the journey, feeling privileged to be part of such unique class of athletes. "It's nice to look back over the four years and realize the hard work I've put in has paid off," said Greene. Both admit they never imagined their senior year would conclude with a trio of state qualifications under their belt. "It's a pretty special accomplishment," noted Greene. "I definitely didn't start the season with this as one of my goals. I knew that it was feasible. I put in the hard work, and it just kind of happened." Although they possess starkly contrasting frames, both began their season years on the line for the Warrenton football team. After raising their win totals in each of the past two seasons, the Warriors were hoping to accomplish more. But what unfolded during the month of November was something neither senior had fathomed during two-a-days. By season's end, Greene and Berry found themselves playing for a state championship. "At the beginning of the year I didn't think we'd go to state," acknowledged Berry. "I thought we might win a couple playoff games, but I never thought the end of the year would go as good as it did." "I think we exceeded all expectations, even our own," asserted Greene. "I'm never one to set my goals too high to where I don't think I can't reach them." Berry was one of the biggest bodies on the offensive and defensive line, earning GAC North All-Conference and All-District honors. He finished with 47 tackles. In contrast, Greene was the most wirey frame on the defensive line. Despite being undersized, he grew into his defensive end position well enough to garner Class 4 All-State honors. Greene was second on the team with 119 tackles, also recording eight sacks and two fumble recoveries. There is one Saturday in the fall that will remain with Greene his entire life. He says it was the defining contest for the senior class. "For me, the Sikeston game really stands out, because if we would have stopped there, that would have tied us for being the best time in school history," said Greene. "Being able to walk into the Dome and play there was amazing." Coach Steve McDowell has worked with both athletes during football and track and says it's their drive that distinguishes them from the crowd. "They have a pretty competitive nature about them," said McDowell. "They put a lot of pride and effort into whatever they set their minds to." During the last few weeks of November, the duo found themselves facing an unfamiliar dilemma. They were unable to make it to wrestling practice, because the football season continued to work its way through the playoffs. When they were finally able to transition, Greene and Berry had to catch up quickly. "It didn't take long to get in wrestling shape the way coach (Kevin) Fowler worked me," quipped Berry. Each was able to qualify for the MSHSAA Championships in wrestling by mid-February. While Berry had previously achieved the feat, Greene had fallen short after an injury forced him out of the district tournament during his junior season. "This year was a lot about overcoming the fact that I didn't get to participate at state last year (because of adversity)," said Greene. "It was about overcoming the mental blocks and proving myself." Berry logged his third straight trip to state in the heavyweight division, while Greene broke through for the first time at 171 pounds. Berry finished the season 19-9. He amassed 89 career wins over the course of three seasons, placing him ninth all-time in school history. Greene, who did not wrestle during his first two years of high school, went 14-14 wrestling a weight class up the entire year until state. He managed a 24-17 record during his junior campaign. "They both have their priorities straight and have an understanding of the work ethic it takes to achieve something like this," said Fowler. "They're never afraid to work for their goals." Berry continued to flex his muscle on into the track season, dominating both of his throwing events. He claimed the GAC North Conference title in the shot put and discus and was able to qualify for state in each event. Berry placed eighth in the MSHSAA Championships in the shot put, recording a throw of 47 feet, seven inches. "My sophomore year I didn't think I was going to be able to make it to state," said Berry. "To go three straight years is pretty awesome." Greene had helped the 3200-meter relay team advance during his sophomore year and was able to accomplish that feat again this spring. He was part of a crew that improved its time during each race of the season, taking first in every race until the district meet. Joining fellow seniors Bryan Groeper and Adam Smith and sophomore Cloud Wharton, Greene was able to bring the team back to competitive form. The team placed second at districts and followed up by shaving 13 seconds off their time at sectionals to qualify for state. While they didn't achieve their goal of a state medal, the relay did record a personal best at the MSHSAA Championships, running an 8:12 to finish ninth. "I'm very happy for them to have the opportunity accomplish something so unique," added McDowell.