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Eldon's Simmons ends postseason run with state title

Eldon's Simmons ends postseason run with state title

February 17th, 2019 by Greg Jackson in Sports Prep

Eldon's Isaiah Simmons celebrates after winning the 113-pound Class 2 championship match Saturday in the state wrestling championships at Mizzou Arena.

Photo by Jenna Kieser /News Tribune.

COLUMBIA — Three district champions. Three state medalists. Two state finalists. One state champion.

It's been a successful postseason run for the Eldon Mustangs.

For the second straight season, Eldon left the Class 2 state wrestling championships with an individual title. Senior Isaiah Simmons ended his career with a 2-1 victory against Excelsior Springs junior Ethan Day in Saturday night's championship match at 113 pounds at Mizzou Arena.

"I went out there and wrestled as hard as I could," said Simmons, a four-time state qualifier who finished fourth last season at 120.

Trenton Dillon won the state title at 160 last season for Eldon.

Simmons had to clear a big hurdle just to get to the championship match. In Friday night's semifinals, he upset top-ranked Zach Lewis of Moberly for a 6-4 sudden victory in overtime. Two stalling penalties in the third period allowed Simmons to push the match to overtime.

"I had been preparing for Moberly for a few weeks," Simmons said. "It just felt great to come out of that one."

Simmons said he changed a few things to avoid a possible letdown in the championship match after Friday's win.

"Every other year I came in here, I was really serious," he said. " I came into this tournament just trying to have as much fun as possible."

The title match was scoreless after one period and Simmons started down to open the second. Day, ranked No. 3 at 113 by, was penalized for clasping with :37 left, and Simmons managed to escape with :08 to take a 2-0 lead into the third.

"In those last two minutes, I was thinking I needed to keep pushing," Simmons said.

Day got an escape just 10 seconds into the third to cut his deficit in half, but Simmons managed to grind out the win, avoiding a takedown.

"I don't look at the clock as often as most people," Simmons said. "I try to not look at it at all."

Simmons, who was ranked No. 4 at 113 entering the state tournament, finished the season with a 30-2 record.

Eldon senior Dawson Brandt also contended for a state title Saturday night at 182 pounds.

Brandt, a three-time state qualifier, has medaled each of those seasons. He placed fifth at 170 in 2017 and finished fourth at 182 last season.

But St. Clair senior Ryan Herman, who won a state title at 145 two years ago, proved to be too powerful. Herman won by major decision, 8-0, against Brandt in the title match.

"This was something that I had working toward for four years," Brandt said. "My wrestling career has been an up-and-down battle, but that state title is something everyone shoots for.

"Just making it to the finals, for me, was a huge step."

Brandt, ranked No. 3 at 182, was able to match up evenly against Herman for most of the first period, but Herman scored a late takedown to lead 2-0 going into the second.

"He's an extremely good wrestler, so I knew that I had to keep it somewhat close if I wanted a chance to win," Brandt said.

With Brandt down to start the second, Herman scored a three-point nearfall with :30 left in the period. In the third, Herman got an escape and then another takedown to pull away to victory.

"It didn't play out how I wanted," said Brandt, who surpassed 150 career wins earlier this season and finished 2018-19 with a 51-3 record.

Herman finished undefeated at 51-0.

This marks the end of Brandt's high school wrestling career, but earlier this month he signed a letter of intent to play football in the fall at Lincoln University. Brandt was a three-time all-state defensive back for the Mustangs.

"Wrestling helps you on the football field," he said. "Wrestling helps with your balance, your body language and the control of your body.

"College football has been my No. 1 goal since I was 5 (years old). I did wrestling to keep me in shape, and then I grew to love the sport."

Eldon junior Kaden Dillon wrestled a pair of matches in Saturday morning's wrestleback round, finishing sixth in the state at 195.

After losing in the semifinals, Dillon then dropped his next two matches. He lost 13-1 to fifth-ranked Wesley Merriman of Monett in the fourth-round wrestlebacks, then lost by technical fall (17-2) to Oak Grove's Zander Brinegar in the fifth-place match.

With just three wrestlers at state, Eldon still tied for 13th place in the Class 2 team standings with 56 points.

"That just goes to show how far coach (Ryan) Bird and the rest of the coaching staff have taken us," Simmons said.

Monett won the team title with 145 points, followed by Bolivar in second with 109 points, Odessa in third with 102 and Moberly fourth with 91.