Fulton girls wrestling advances 3-of-4 to Day 2

Fulton's Emmy Begemann grapples her opponent on Day 1 of the Class 2 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Fulton Public Schools/Courtesy)
Fulton's Emmy Begemann grapples her opponent on Day 1 of the Class 2 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Fulton Public Schools/Courtesy)

COLUMBIA -- The Fulton Hornets' Olivia Weaver, Emmy Begemann and Carly Foster advanced to Day 2 of the Class 1 state championships after winning two bouts Wednesday at Mizzou Arena.

Those three, all two-time state qualifiers that went 0-2 last season, made it a majority of Fulton wrestlers moving on to placing matches, with Rilee Swaim, the lone Hornet, dropping two and ending her high school career on Day 1.

Fulton put in the best showing of the three Callaway County teams, sitting 13th with 23 points. Marshfield sits top with 49 points, Kearney second with 35 and Oak Grove third with 33½.

"I'm really, really proud of the way the girls wrestled today," Beeler said. "It's definitely an improvement from last year. I think that their experience from being here last year definitely helped in terms of getting used to the setting and getting used to the science. Last year, we kind of got down there, and our eyes got real wide, and we didn't wrestle. But this year, we knew what to expect going into it. And, we're just concerned about wrestling and going out and doing our best, and that's what we did."

Begemann tallied the Hornets' most points, 11, improving her record to 49-9.

In championship Round 1 at 125 pounds, Begemann won by fall (3:30) over Warsaw's Skylon Bonne (33-11). Afterward, Begemann pinned St. Clair's Lindsay Rampani (40-11) in 4:12 in the quarterfinals.

"I was really nervous at first like my warm us wasn't great, but I had a talk with my coach and just kind of calmed down and listened to music," Begemann said. "That helps like ignore everyone else, block it all out. And, I just went out there and wrestled what I knew how to do, and it just came through for me."

Foster (190) posted Fulton's second-most points at seven, moving to 25-12.

In championship Round 1, Foster won by fall (2:13) over Oak Grove's Eva Alexander (29-13) before Seneca's Isabella Renfro (45-0) pinned her in:36 in the quarterfinals. Keeping her state journey alive, Foster won by fall (2:20) over Excelsior Springs's Adrien Crawley (28-19) in consolation Round 2.

"It's a great feeling, being a senior," Foster said. "Last year, going 0-2, it was kind of bad. They just told me to push myself harder this year of practice and push to be in like striving to be a better wrestler this year. Making it today to me is a lot."

When she was down to her last bout, potentially the final of her high school career, there was an added motivation. Foster explained what it took to get that far.

"Another reason I'm here and got this far is because I'm #beautifulandblessed," Foster said

Weaver (110) tacked on five points for the Hornets, and she moved to 42-15.

In championship Round 1, Weaver won by a 5-2 decision over Central: Park Hill's Taylor Sharp (29-5), and in the quarterfinal, she fell by fall (:19) to Kearney's Riley Walker (32-8).

Getting the second win she needed, Weaver won by fall (2:06) over Center's Taiyahna Pruett (36-7) in consolation Round 2.

"It was really, really stressful," Weaver said. "I was worried I wasn't gonna make weight. Then, I did. And I was really struggling. And we only had like five minutes to warm up, so I was really scared."

To help manage that stress, Weaver explained that her teammates support her, and she does the same for them.

"Always together, always talking," Weaver said.

"Before we started today, we went over to Mizzou's practice facility and got a little workout in," Beeler said. "That was one of the things we told them; all of them have been here before. So, we know what to expect."

Swaim (135), a talented catcher for a stacked Fulton softball team this past fall, couldn't get a win at state, finishing 41-17 in her senior campaign.

In championship Round 1, Oak Grove's Lauren Phillips (42-5) won by technical fall (3:36 [15-0]) over Swaim. Macks Creek's Kamora Merchant (20-14), the leading wrestler of a first-year program, pinned Swaim in 2:08 in consolation Round 1.

Fulton's Weaver, Begemann and Foster compete on Day 2, beginning at 10:15 a.m. today.

The lone Hornet in the championship semifinals, No. 14 seed Begemann takes on No. 9 seed Elizabeth Riggs of Wright City.

"Emmy still has a chance to wrestle for a state championship, so that's very exciting," Beeler said. "She's in the semifinals against the girl from Wright City, who we've wrestled a couple of times earlier in our career. We haven't gotten to her yet, but I know that we can get to her. It's a little bit of a mental block with that girl. So, if we can get over the hump,* I think that we can beat her and find a way into the finals. We just have to wrestle like we know we can. It's actually funny, in her district at 125, it was absolutely loaded, and all four of the girls in the semifinals at state at 125 are the four girls in her district at 125."

As is the case in any sport at any level, when you see an opponent before, one has an idea of what to do better or differently next time. Beeler explained what it would be like for Begemann in her instance with Riggs.

"Just to be aggressive, be on our feet," Beeler said. "Emmy's got a great shot. She just has to open up and be competent in it. That's her biggest issue on her feet is just being confident that she is a good wrestler on her feet. When she opens up, she's fantastic, so we can get her to do that against Wright City and just continue wrestling on top and bottom and just having good match management. I think we'll be in a good spot."

photo Fulton's Carly Foster takes hold of her opponent on Day 1 of the Class 1 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Fulton Public Schools/Courtesy)
photo Fulton's Olivia Weaver wrestles on Day 1 of the Class 1 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Fulton Public Schools/Courtesy)
photo Fulton's Rilee Swaim gets ready to spar with her opponent on Day 1 of the Class 1 state championships Wednesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Fulton Public Schools/Courtesy)