Blair Oaks wrestling has largest roster ever

Blair Oaks’ Logan Mudd (left) takes on Whitfield’s Chris Wilkes in last season’s Class 1 138-pound state championship at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Mudd is one of the top returnees for the Falcons this season.

Blair Oaks’ Logan Mudd (left) takes on Whitfield’s Chris Wilkes in last season’s Class 1 138-pound state championship at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Mudd is one of the top returnees for the Falcons this season. Photo by News Tribune.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — The opening of the new weight room/wrestling room at Blair Oaks High School is fast approaching, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

With numbers in the Blair Oaks wrestling program swelling, the added space will definitely come in handy.

“We’ve got numbers way up,” Blair Oaks coach Tim Karsten said. “We’re at 29 right now, which is the highest we’ve ever had.”

The wrestling room should open around the first of the year, which will be just in time for the most important part of the schedule.

“It helps having more room,” Karsten said. “When the kids (thinking about trying out) would come down and see there wasn’t much more room, they’d just say, ‘Ah, maybe next year.’ Having a big room like that is great. … We’re practicing over at the elementary school, and the gym size there is basically what we’re going to get in here. We’re filling up that room pretty well, too, so it will be tight again, but that’s good.”

The Falcons will get the season started today with their familiar opener, the Knob Noster Tournament.

“The bad part of that is the (football guys) haven’t had a lot of practice — we’ve given them some time off,” Karsten said. “We always go into Knob Noster a little weak, but that’s just part of what we do. We’re going to get some younger guys some experience, which is the one good thing about it.”

While the football team’s appearance in the state semifinals put the wrestling team a little behind schedule, it also provided a good blueprint to follow.

“Football had a great season, and winning always rubs off, so we hope that will continue,” Karsten said. “… We hope we’re like the football team. They were a young team that kept getting better and it just depends on how well our young ones fill in where they’re needed. It’s going to be exciting for us to see how they do.”

Those youngsters will learn from some pretty good role models.

“We’ve got six returning state qualifiers, and three returning medalists, so we’ve got a good group to build around,” Karsten said. “This is the biggest class of freshmen we’ve ever had (13). We also have a good group of sophomores, we keep on getting more and more of them out. So we’re doing really well.”

The team has another interesting dynamic.

“It’s a cool year — we’ve got four sets of brothers, which always helps out,” Karsten said. “… The big brothers have been teaching their little brothers some wrestling along the way.”

That group includes Karsten’s sons, John and Paul, along with Brad and Bo Thomas, Logan and Daniel Mudd, and London and Alex Gaydos.

After capturing a state trophy two years in a row, taking fourth in 2011 and second in 2012, the Falcons took a step back last year. Tim Karsten said he wants that to be an anomaly.

“We finished ninth last year and that’s a good year, but everybody’s shooting for that great year,” he said. “That’s definitely our goal, to be up in the top four and bring home a trophy.”

For the first time in awhile, the Falcons may have a few open spots in the lineup. The 106- and 113-pound weight classes will be open for the first couple week of the season.

“We’ll be open at the first two weights until after Christmas, then we’ll have a new guy who can step in there, freshman Clayton Roling,” Karsten said. “He’ll build up with some JV matches and we’ll see how he goes from there. We were hunting the halls for little guys and he’s one who finally stepped forward.”

After those two weight classes, it’s freshman London Gaydos at 120 and sophomore Frankie Falotico, who finished fifth in the state last year at 120, at 126 pounds.

Junior Alex Gaydos, who was a state qualifier at 132 pounds last year, returns at that weight. After that, freshman Paul Karsten and junior Cole Forck will split time at 138.

Senior Logan Mudd, who finished fourth at 119 in 2010, fourth at 132 in 2001 and second last year at 138, will wrestle at 145 this time around.

Brad Thomas, a state qualifier at 145 in 2012 and 2013, will wrestle at 152 for his senior season. He’s followed by senior Ben Campbell and freshman Riley Boeckman at 160.

Cole Kemna, who missed last year’s state tournament due to injury, will wrestle at 170 after finishing third in 2011 at 103 and second in 2012 at 120.

Freshman Scott Farley will see time at 170 and 182, while sophomores Lueckenhoff and Logan Moore are in the mix at 182.

Corbin Singer, a senior, will start out at 195 and could drop to 182 after Christmas.

Sophomore Chance Cumpton will start out at 220 and possibly drop to 195 if Singer drops down. Sophomore Levi Dial, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered during football, will also see time at 220.

“We’re bringing him back slowly,” Tim Karsten said. “We need him at the end of the year, so we want to make sure he’s ready to go.

“Once Corbin gets down to 182, with Chance at 195 and Levi at 220, we will be pretty salty.”

Sophomore Jordan Baumhoer will also wrestle at 220, while senior John Karsten, a state qualifier at 220 in 2012 and 2013, will wrestle at 285.

“We have a few open spots, but once we get into the lineup, it’s fairly solid,” Tim Karsten said. “… We’ve got to wrestle tough if we give up those two spots for free. You’ve got to make up (those points) somewhere. It’s been a trend where people haven’t had full teams and we’ve benefited from that in the past, now we’ll be a little shy as well.”

This could be a year where Blair Oaks meets some team and individual goals.

“Sometime this year we’ll get our 100th (dual-match) win, so that will be a good milestone for us, I think we need five more for that,” Karsten said. “And we’ve got a bunch of boys who are close to their 100th wins, and we’ll have a couple get to 150. That is some great, great stuff.”

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