Going into the Class 4 state wrestling championships, the Jefferson City Jays had finished first or second in all of their tournaments this season.
The streak was broken Saturday. But the Jays were happy with the hardware they earned.
Jefferson City had six of its seven qualifiers earn medals as the Jays tied Nixa for third place in the championships at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.
"The kids caught fire, we were hoping to be in the top 10," Jefferson City coach Phil Cagle said. "We just wanted to go wrestle and have fun.
"The kids had a great attitude and wrestle with some urgency and they sure did."
Jefferson City and Nixa both totaled 81 points. Liberty ran away with the team title with 226 points as 12 of its 13 qualifiers were medalists, including four individual champions. C.B.C., with three champions and all five qualifiers taking medals, was second with 117 points. Nixa had four of its qualifiers earn medals.
"Any time you can win a trophy at state is a wonderful thing," Cagle said. "We'll take that every year."
It's Jefferson City's best team finish since taking second in 2016.
Brant Aulbur led Jefferson City's medalists, taking second at 220 pounds. Aulbur opened the tournament with a win by fall, then took a major decision in the quarterfinals. The senior then won by fall in the semifinals to advance to face North Kansas City Xavier Doolin for the title.
Aulbur was realistic about his chances going into the championship match against the nationally ranked Doolin, who will wrestle at Northern Colorado next season.
"I had zero nerves," Aulbur said. "I just wanted to go out there and wrestle."
Doolin (43-0) controlled the match from the start, leading 15-2 after one period before scoring a takedown early in the second to win by technical fall. It was Doolin's only match of his three in the tournament that went longer than :36.
"The kid's a beast," Aulbur said. "I can't say that I've wrestled anybody at that level. I've come a long way, I can't be too upset about losing to a guy who's ranked No. 7 in the nation."
Aulbur, who was third at 220 last year, ends his senior season at 39-4.
"It's awesome," he said. "If you'd have asked my coach three years ago if I would have been here, he'd have said, 'no way.'"
"That's true," Cagle admitted.
Two Jays — Joe Kuster at 138 and Jakeil Hayes at 195 — finished fourth in their respective weight classes.
Kuster (43-4), a two-time state qualifier, finished with a 2-2 record. The sophomore won his first two matches by fall before losing by fall to eventual state champion Kage Lenger of Liberty in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, Kuster lost 4-3 to Andrew Doehring of Lafayette.
"There were tough kids in that weight class," Cagle said. "Joe did a great job, he's a physical kid who gave as good as he got in a tough weight class."
Hayes (42-4), a senior, went 1-2 to earn his first state medal in his second state appearance. After a first-round bye by virtue of being a sectional champion, Hayes won his quarterfinal match by an 8-3 decision. He then lost 5-3 in the semifinals and 10-7 to Aaron Barnhill of Lee's Summit North in the third-place match.
Hayes didn't start wrestling until his sophomore year in high school.
"If he was on the other side of the bracket, he might have been in the finals," Cagle said. "He had a good day."
Will Berendzen, a junior, was fifth at 170.
Berendzen finished 4-1 in the tournament, with his only loss coming by a 6-0 decision to eventual state champion Lucas White of C.B.C. Berendzen won by fall against Thomas Rushing of Ozark in the fifth-place match.
A state qualifier as a freshman, Berendzen finished 43-4 this season.
"He is one of the kids who really stepped up today, he did a super job," Cagle said.
Braden Werdehausen at 120 and Michael Friederich at 182 both finished sixth.
Werdehausen, a freshman, went 3-2 with all of his victories coming by decision.
"It was a great job as a freshman," Cagle said.
Friederich rebounded from a first-round loss to go 3-2.
"He did a really good job, the last two weeks off were good for him to reset," Cagle said.
Isaac Enloe went 1-2 for the Jays at 285. The junior got his win by fall.
"Without his win, we finish fourth or maybe fifth," Cagle said. "It was a good experience for him looking toward next season."
There's only one third-place trophy to be handed out at the tournament. So there's a coin flip to decide which team takes it home, while the other will receive a copy later.
Aulbur said he called the coin flip for Jefferson City. He picked tails.
It was tails.
"Tails never fails," Aulbur said.
Cody Thorn contributed information for this story.