Empty spaces were scarce Tuesday night at Jim Enlow Court as the Wrestling Panthers hosted the Battle Spartans and Moberly Spartans for a night of high school wrestling.
The Centralia High School gym echoed with Panther fans cheers and the exuberant pounding of bleachers as their wrestlers showed off their 2017 technique.
The Panthers lost a close one to Moberly, 39-36. They came back and beat Battle 39-33.
Against Battle, the Fireside Guard’s unofficial results have: Grafton Littrell – 160 lbs., Hunter Phillips – 170 lbs., Lakota Phillips – 182 lbs. and Trevor Bodine – 195 lbs., pinning their opponents to win by fall.
Shawn Pele won by decision.
Duke Newsted – 126 and Anthony Stevens – 152, drew byes, earning points for the Panthers because Battle had no wrestlers to face them.
Against Moberly, Newsted, Carson Sanders – 145, Littrell, Hunter and Lakota Phillips, also won by pin.
Bodine won by decision.
“I am unbelievably proud of our kids,” said Centralia Head Coach Luke Grande. “It was an awesome night. . . All of our kids in the wrestling room have worked unbelievably hard.”
While reluctant to single out any specific wrestler or wrestlers for praised, Gramke did admit that fans should not have been surprised by the Phillips brothers’ performance.
“Lakota, I believe, was undefeated last year until a season-ending injury at the Liberty Wentzville Tournament. Hunter Phillips is a freshman and state-qualifier in youth wrestling and has been really coachable and worked hard.”
The praise, hard work, he said applied to all the wrestlers.
“It has been a joy to coach them and it finally paid off tonight.”
Especially against Tuesday night’s opposition. Moberly, he said has eight returning state qualifiers on the team. “We were right there with them and went toe-to-toe.”
Battle is Class III, Moberly is Class II and Centralia is Class I.
The thing that made Gramke proudest that evening was his wrestlers’ support of each other.
“Any time we had a wrester on the match, the entire team was cheering them to the end,” he said.
Centralia took some big wins he said.
Bodine beating Moberly’s Chance Richards was one, Gramke said.
“Richards too fourth last year in Class II at 195 pounds and is a terrific junior wrestler. Beating him 7-3 is a good win for Trevor, especially early in the season.”
Bodine won the match by wrestling smart, and choosing his tactics wisely, Gramke said.
“He wrestled and won the match on his feet. Chance Richards does a very good job of working from the front headlock. We knew we needed to nullify that position. We did so with head position. Whenever they were on their feed Trevor kept terrific head position and took the headlock away from Chance.”
Littrell also made an impression.
“Any time he steps on the mat it’s going to be fun,” Gramke said. He did his job. There are some things to clean up, but he’s the type of kid, he’s going to get straight back into the wrestling room and work on them.”
Game’s answer to what Tuesday’s lesson for the Panthers was?
“That working hard in the room pays off.”
Saturday the team competes in the Marceline Classic.