Fulton boys wrestlers Blattner and Brocksmith go 2-0 on Day 1 at state

Fulton's Elijah Brocksmith takes hold of Mid-Buchanan's Colton Kirkham in the 175-pound quarters of the Class 2 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Shawley Photography/Courtesy)
Fulton's Elijah Brocksmith takes hold of Mid-Buchanan's Colton Kirkham in the 175-pound quarters of the Class 2 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Shawley Photography/Courtesy)

COLUMBIA -- Fulton Hornets state champion Cole Blattner and senior Elijah Brocksmith moved on to Day 2, winning both bouts in the Class 2 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena.

Brocksmith was the only senior Hornet to advance. Unfortunately for Fulton, Wednesday marked the end of Kai Foster's, Kaden Barnes's and Jayden Ayers's high school wrestling careers.

Despite just two wrestlers going to Day 2, Fulton still did well on the team leaderboard, sitting 15th out of 52 teams with 22½ points.

"They did fantastic today," Fulton boys wrestling coach Branden Beeler said. "I think that was a direct result of their experience from last year and working hard in the practice room all year long. They did a fantastic job today. Going in tomorrow, we put ourselves in a really good position to come back home with medals."

Odessa, two of its wrestlers beat Fulton's, sits first with 69½ points, and Seneca, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic and Ste. Genevieve are tied for second with 57.

Being the reigning 113-pound state champion, Blattner (120 pounds) knew he would have a target on his back, but he stayed calm and collected as ever.

In championship Round 1, Blattner (48-3) won by technical fall (1:47 [15-0]) over Potosi's Levi Dicus (19-12). Then, Fulton's title-winner won by a 6-0 decision over Excelsior Springs's Cooper Collins (35-5) in the quarterfinals.

"I ended up picking my first kid in the first period," Blattner said. "That second one, he was a good kid, and I'm pretty happy with how I wrestled."

This is Blattner's third time appearing at state, and he'll make his third Day 2 appearance as a junior; he placed third as a freshman.

Blattner won a District 2 title to reach state, beating Hallsville's Paxton Martin by a 1-0 decision in the championship.

"Districts went pretty well," Blattner said. "I didn't wrestle my best districts, but I wrestled well enough."

Seeded fifth, Blattner takes on No. 3 seed Easton DeMilia (27-5) of Blair Oaks in the semifinals today.

"Just keep wrestling; I can't get tight," Blattner said. "Just gotta wrestled loose and smart. If I wrestle loose and smart, I should get it done."

Brocksmith's quarterfinal matchup provided the most emotions to the fans in the stands out of any bout, boys or girls, that a Callaway County wrestler competed on Wednesday.

To get there, Brocksmith (44-5) won by fall (1:20) over Sullivan's Kane Strehl (25-23) in championship Round 1 at 175.

Following that came a thrilling quarterfinal with some aerial moves as Brocksmith won in overtime (6-4) over Mid-Buchanan's Colton Kirkham (37-4).

"It was rough," Brocksmith said. "I was tired. He was tired when I wasn't showing up. So, I saw weakness in him, and I pushed the pace, and I beat him."

That win gives Brocksmith a chance at a state championship when he and Blattner were Callaway County's only boys district champions this season. To earn gold at 175 in District 2, Brocksmith beat Moberly's Carter Smith by fall (5:21).

Brocksmith is making his third state appearance, placing once at fifth before this season.

A No. 5 seed like Blattner, Brocksmith faces No. 4 seed Cayden Larson (50-3) of Chillicothe in today's semifinals.

"I plan to win; I plan to win it all," Brocksmith said. "Gonna be a couple of tough matches, but nothing I can't handle."

Of Fulton's three seniors whose high school careers ended Wednesday, Foster (34-16) finished with the most wins on the season.

In championship Round 1, Foster won by an 8-6 decision over Mid-Buchanan's Cooper Kirkham. Following that, he lost by a 14-4 major decision to Seneca's Eli Manley (36-8) in the quarterfinals before dropping a 9-0 major decision to Harrisonville's Christ Sullivan (32-4) in consolation Round 2.

Ayers, who hadn't wrestled since freshman year before this season, went 31-15 as a senior.

Earning an upset, Ayers won by a 5-1 decision over Potosi's Carter Pyatt (36-10) in championship Round 1. After that, Ayers lost by a 13-2 major decision to Odessa's Lake Waters in the quarterfinal and by a 7-4 decision to Plattsburg's Caden McLallen in consolation Round 2.

"Jayden, we were looking for a comeback story for him," Beeler said. "He took two years off from wrestling and was a state qualifier as a freshman at 170. It took a lot for him to come back this year. Just his coming back is an accomplishment in and of itself. For him to be able to come through here and win a match at state, he put himself in a position where he's competing for a medal. He was in every match. I think it's just a testament to what kind of a man he is."

Barnes, who joined Ayers on Fulton's district-title-winning boys soccer team this past fall, finished his season 30-13.

"Kaden's been wrestling with us since he was 5-6 years old," Beeler said. "Everyone's been looking to him as a leader ever since they grew up through clubs. Same with Kai, same with Jayden."

Also shocking an opponent, Barnes won by a 6-4 decision over Affton's J'Antonio Muyco (37-15) in championship Round 1. From there, Barnes lost by an 11-5 decision to Odessa's Michael Scott in the quarterfinals, and he fell by fall (:42) to Cassville's Tristan Thompson in consolation Round 2.

"It's sad to see their careers end," Beeler said. "It's heartbreaking, especially after all the work that they've put in, but they've all made huge marks on our program. Though they didn't get a medal this year, they know their impact is going to be long-lasting on Fulton wrestling."

Blattner and Brocksmith compete on Day 2, starting at 12:15 p.m. today.

"The atmosphere on Day 2 is electric," Beeler said. "I'm really excited for them. Obviously, both of them were semifinalists last year. Elijah is taking that next step of going into the finals, which I fully believe he can. We got an opponent from Chillicothe, who's a fantastic wrestler.

"We beat him once earlier in the year, so we're really excited to kind of see if we can build on that and get another win there and get them into the finals because everybody on our team deserves to be there. But, that kid, more than anybody, I feel like deserves to be in the finals. He's put his heart and soul into the program, and he works really hard every day. He's a leader on our team and always has been. He's been working for this moment his entire life. So, I hope to see him punch his ticket tomorrow."

photo Fulton's Cole Blattner looks on to his championship Round 1 120-pound opponent, Potosi's Levi Dicus Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Shawley Photography/Courtesy)
photo Fulton's Kai Foster talks to his assistant coaches on Wednesday on Day 1 of the Class 2 state championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Shawley Photography/Courtesy)
photo Fulton's Jayden Ayers gets his left had held up by the referee after beating Potosi's Carter Pyatt in the 150-pound championship Round 1 of the Class 2 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Shawley Photography/Courtesy)
photo Fulton's Kaden Barnes wrestles Odessa's Michael Scott in the Class 2 state championships 157-pound quarterfinals Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Shawley Photography/Courtesy)