MULES RECAP: Poplar Bluff wrestling team places 3rd at conference; Paige Bradley 2nd in dive for swim team

JACKSON, Mo. — Gatlin Taylor and Justin Mitchell reached the championship match and five of their Poplar Bluff teammates earned wrestled for third place Saturday night at the SEMO Conference Tournament.

With half the team earning all-conference honors, the Mules placed third in the standings, their best finish since 2009.

“We can build on that,” Mules coach Kelton Thompson said. “Conference is as tough as it’s been the last five, six years.”

Taylor placed second at 106 pounds, Mitchell was second at 160 while Quinten Bell and Gavyn Hays placed third in their divisions. Preston Taylor, Lucas Robertson and Davion Steele earned all-conference honors in finishing fourth.

Jackson won the team title for a fourth straight year with 692 points, followed by Farmington’s 564.5 and Poplar Bluff at 550.5. Hillsboro (547.5) was fourth with Dexter (428) fifth in the 16-team tournament.

Dexter’s Travis Waldner won his third straight conference title, improving to 35-0 on the season. All five of his matches ended early with three pins and a pair of technical falls. In the dial, Waldner pinned New Madrid Central’s Jacob Wicker in 54 seconds.

Mason Keena and Alex Townsend finished third for the Bearcats while Bryston Pemberton was fourth.

Poplar Bluff’s Taylor was the top seed at 106 and reached the semifinal with a pair of pins before a 6-4 decision. In the championship match, Hillsboro freshman Gavin Alexander earned a 6-1 decision as Taylor fell to 26-3 on the season.

“He wrestled tough,” Thompson said of the sophomore who finished fifth last year at 106.

Mitchell earned four straight pins to reach the semifinal then advanced on a medical forfeit. In the championship, Jackson’s Noah Uhrhan, one of 10 defending conference champs, earned a pin at 1:09.

“Mitchell is the type of kid that can go toe-to-toe with anybody,” Thompson said of the sophomore who improved to 27-9. “Hopefully this boosts his confidence going into district.”

Hays lost the 220-pound semifinal 5-3 in overtime when he got caught on a takedown by Jackson’s David Ekstam. Hays got a pin at 4:17 to reach the third-place match and won with a pin at 2:55 against Hillsboro’s John Moseley to clinch Poplar Bluff’s 3-point lead over the Hawks for third place.

Bell, who has a history of close decisions at the conference tournament the past three years, was knocked out 5-3 in the semifinal at138 pounds. After a 7-2 win, Bell earned a 3-1 sudden-victory win in the third-place match.

“That was a loaded weight class,” Thompson said. “Every match he grinded.… Super proud of his effort. Third place finish doesn’t do it justice.”

Preston Taylor had two pins and a 7-3 win before getting pinned in the heavyweight semifinal. He rebounded with a 3-2 win before finishing fourth.

Robertson rebounded after losing his 132-pound quarterfinal 8-7, earning a 1-0 win to reach the third-place match where he lost 11-4.

Steele also finished fourth after falling in his 170-pound quarterfinal, earning a 5-4 win before losing 4-2 to Jackson’s Tyler Beyatte.

Ben Colclasure placed fifth at 145 pounds after losing a pair of decisions. The freshman lost 8-2 to the eventual runner-up in the semifinal then lost 3-2 before claiming fifth with an 11-9 win.

Riley Sater placed fifth at 182 pounds after getting knocked out in the quarterfinal. The sophomore rebounded with a pin but was pinned into the fifth-place match, which he won with a pin at 1:44.

Seth Barris placed sixth at 152 pounds, earning three pins before getting pinned at the 4:20 mark of the fifth-place match.

Desmond Howell finished seventh at 195 with a pin at the 4:02 mark while 113-pounder Gavin Hicks and 120-pounder Andrew Easton each placed ninth with pins.

Dace Wisdom finished 10th at 126 pounds after earning an overtime win then losing 7-0.


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — Paige Bradley earned a pair of top-six finishes at the City of Roses meet, placing second in the dive, as Poplar Bluff tied for 13th in the team standings.

Bradley earned 389.1 points in the diving event as Jackson’s Hadley Wyatt won at 426.2 on Friday.

Bradley, who also helped a pair of relays place ninth, finished sixth in the 50-yard freestyle Saturday in 25.74 seconds as the first two swimmers to the wall broke 25 seconds.

The Mules earned 66 points, tying with John Burroughs of St. Louis and Jackson, while host Cape Central was sixth at 157 points. Parkway South won by 49 points over Ladue Horton Watkins.

Audrey Cisne, Simone Anders, Gabrielle Fortner and Bradley finished ninth in the 200-medley relay with a consideration state-cut time of 2:01.91. Morghyn McCain, Audrey Rahlmann, Fortner and Bradley were ninth in the 200-freestyle relay at 1:50.31, also a consideration state time.

Rahlmann, Jessica Rush, Morghyn McCain and Emryn Smith were 18th in the 400-freestyle relay at 4:25.10, also a consideration state time.

While the Mules didn’t place any more swimmers in the top 25, they did see plenty of drops in their times.

Rush cut 3 seconds in the 500 freestyle and 1.23 seconds in the 200 while Fortner dropped 6.41 seconds in the individual medley and 2.16 seconds in the butterfly. Smith had a 17.21-second drop in the 500 and nearly a second in the IM while Kacey Gregory dropped 11.35 seconds in the 200 freestyle and Madison Moore cut 6 seconds.

Cisne and Haven Phelps dropped at least a second in their IM time, Grace Cram was a second faster in the butterfly while Rahlmann cut nearly 2 seconds in the 100 freestyle. McCain and Avory Gibbs each dropped 3 seconds in the backstroke.

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