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Jays sticking with the plan

At Class 4 state wrestling tournament

Jalen Martin of Jefferson City is one of four Class 4 individual district champions at 170 pounds to qualify for the state tournament that starts today at Mizzou Arena.

Jalen Martin of Jefferson City is one of four Class 4 individual district champions at 170 pounds to qualify for the state tournament that starts today at Mizzou Arena. Photo by Kris Wilson.

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

This week’s Class 4 state tournament will bring a conclusion to one of the best seasons in the history of the Jefferson City Jays wrestling program. So don’t expect to see much different from the eight Jays qualifiers when the tournament starts today at 5 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.

“We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, just stick with the fundamentals,” Jays coach Phil Cagle said. “You just keep trying to improve.”

The Jays finished undefeated in duals this season and captured multiple tournament titles, none bigger than last Saturday’s Class 4 District 3 victory. It was the first district tournament title for Jefferson City since 2004.

“It’s been a Cinderella season,” Cagle said.

What has made it even more special is the youth of the team. Jefferson City had one senior — Alec Bise — in its starting lineup the majority of the year.

Bise will make his first state tournament appearance today, wrestling at 138 pounds.

“I’m so happy for Alec, he’s a perfect example of what we tell the kids,” Cagle said. “Stick with us, learn our system, do what we ask and you will be a success.”

And the kids are doing just that.

“What we’ve accomplished thus far is a tribute to our kids, they’re hard-working, they’re coachable, they listen,” Cagle said. “Plus they’re self-motivated, you don’t see that a lot today.”

Jalen Martin is Jefferson City’s lone individual district champion. The sophomore, who claimed the 170-pound title last Saturday at Waynesville, figures to make a deep run in his weight class.

“His bracket looks good for him,” Cagle said. “He’s wrestled well all year long, he’s a smart kid.”

Two Jays — Corbin Howard at 120 and Logan Moriarity at 145 — both took second at districts.

Howard, a junior, will be making a return trip to state after finishing 2-2 at 113 in 2013.

Moriarity, a sophomore, was fourth last season at 120 with a record of 4-2. With a win today, he likely would be squaring off against Brock Wingbermuehle of Seckman in Friday’s quarterfinals. Wingbermuehle is a two-time defending state champion.

“Logan has a tough bracket, but a lot of people have tough brackets,” Cagle said. “You can’t worry about it, you just go out there and wrestle.”

The two squared off in the title match at the Seckman Tournament earlier this month, with Wingbermuehle posting a 4-1 victory.

“Logan is a student of the sport, he will work on things to have a better match if they do meet again,” Cagle said.

Finishing third in districts to qualify for the Jays were Bise, sophomore Jacob Brune at 132 and junior Logan Coil at 285

Cagle thinks Brune is entering the three-day tournament a bit under the radar in his weight class.

“He is wrestling very well, he may surprise some people up there,” Cagle said.

Taking fourth to advance were freshmen Dennis Barnes at 106 and Christian Mayberry at 126. They will both square off against district champions in their first match today.

“That’s tough to overcome, but it will be a great learning experience,” Cagle said. “When you walk into Mizzou Arena, it’s just a big barn that holds a lot of hay and that’s how they should treat it.

“Sometimes with all the lights and the music, it can be a bit of a shock. It’s good that Dennis and Christian are getting to go through that experience this week, they can get it out of the way.”

Cagle isn’t one to look ahead at brackets to try and figure out how things will turn out.

“It looks like some of our guys are in good places, others aren’t, but you never really know,” he said. “It comes down to being mentally prepared, being confident and staying focused.”

A season that started nearly 11 months ago with workouts will conclude with the finals starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

“These kids have worked very hard to get to this point,” Cagle said. “They’ve done a great job.”

Park Hill, the defending state champion, is the favorite to repeat in Class 4. Cagle said a team to watch is Rock Bridge, which finished third in Jefferson City’s district but had four individual champions.

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