Carthage High School will send seven wrestlers to this weekend’s Class 3 state championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Carthage High School will send seven wrestlers to this weekend’s Class 3 state championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Four of them are making return trips to the state meet, including senior Markkel Moore, who qualified for the third-straight season and placed second a year ago.
The list includes one sophomore, Dalen Moore, a two-time qualifier, and juniors Nick Norbury and Corben Pugh, who are both making their second trips to state.
Junior Dillon Lancaster and seniors Gage Bloomer and Brycen Cartwright are all first-time qualifiers.
“It’s a great mix because just under half are seniors so we will have the senior leadership up there but we’ve also got four underclassmen which is going to be nice for us next year coming back,” said head coach Kenny Brown. “It’s nice to have those guys in the lineup with state experience.”
Lancaster, 35-17 this season, qualified at 170 pounds. Bloomer, at 182, is 31-18, and Cartwright is 31-11 at 195 pounds. All three wrestled at the nearby Hearnes Center in Columbia for youth state tournaments.
Cartwright placed fourth at last weekend’s district tournament in Camdenton, opening with a pin in 52 seconds and a major decision win. He went 3-2 with both losses coming to top-three ranked opponents. In addition to making his first trip to state, it was Cartwright’s first district tournament, as well, after wrestling junior varsity for three seasons.
“It makes me proud of myself because my dad was really good back when he was in high school and I wanted to go to state like he did,” Cartwright said Tuesday.
His father, Tim Cartwright, was a multi-year state qualifier at Nevada.
“A kid like Brycen seeing all his hard work pay off,” Brown said. “So often kids are not willing to wrestle on JV anymore. Maybe they see it as not being as glamorous but he worked hard on JV and got better every year. Now he’s where he belongs.”
Bloomer placed fourth in the district, also going 3-2 with losses to Webb City’s top-ranked Hunter Vanlue and Neosho’s second-ranked Johnny Meyer.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” Bloomer said. “I’ve had a lot hold me back these last two years but finally getting to go, it’s an awesome experience.”
Bloomer suffered a broken femur during his sophomore football season, forcing him to miss one entire wrestling season, and he was limited by a neck injury last year.
“As a wrestler he’s a junior rather than a senior because he broke his leg and was out a year,” Brown said.
Lancaster went 3-1 to place third in the district, his only loss coming to second-ranked Joey Williams of Neosho.
After a year away from the sport, he returned this season and after something of a rough start, he said he’s improved during the course of the season.
“I started off not too well but I started to get better with my stance and shooting,” he said. “I hurt my shoulder early so I couldn’t really shoot and I was on the defensive side. Now it’s gotten stronger so I’m really excited for state.”
“He has really taken off this year,” Brown said. “He’s matured a lot as a young man and is very coachable.”
Dalen Moore is ranked third in the state in Class 3 at 120 pounds, having won 48 of his 50 matches and won a district championship last weekend. His varsity record in high school is 84-9. As a freshman Moore placed fifth at state at 106 pounds.
“I’ll feel better about it, won’t be as nervous,” he said about making the return trip, adding that he would notice the increased confidence right before he takes to the mat.
Moore’s four wins at districts came by technical fall, by fall in 2:54 and 4-0 and 1-0 decisions, the latter against McDonald County’s fourth-ranked Jakob Gerow.
“He’s wrestling very, very well,” Brown said. “Probably his biggest strength is his ability on top. He’s turning kids and he’s turning good kids. That will allow him to make a transition down the road hopefully to the college ranks. He’s wrestled some good competition and he’s won those close matches. Only lost twice, one was a tight one. Hopefully we’ll see that kid in the semifinals and get another shot at him.”
Norbury is 36-11 at 126 pounds and qualified as a sophomore at 113 pounds. He suffered a tough loss at state a year ago, leading 10-0 before falling in the final 20 seconds.
At the district he placed third with a 4-1 effort, only losing to Neosho’s third-ranked Trenton Young.
“I think the pressure’s off,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be as nervous going in.
“I really just want to place higher, do better than last year,” he said.
Brown said last year’s loss left a bad taste in Norbury’s mouth.
“He has worked really hard, only missed one day all summer and has definitely taken a step in the right direction,” he said. “He’s got a legit shot to place. His quarterfinal draw is not the best but on the back side we could run into a kid who’s beaten us by one point. If he gets by him he could get to the third-place match.”
Pugh placed third at 145 pounds in the district, going 4-1 with two major decision victories. His only loss was to Willard’s top-ranked Niko Chavez. He’s 42-11 overall.
Pugh qualified at 120 pounds as a freshman and said he’s more confident this time around, with a goal of making it to the podium.
“I know what to expect,” he said. “I feel like I’ll actually be on the podium this year because my freshman year I think my nerves got to me.”
“He’s done very well,” Brown said. “He has found a shot, found a takedown that was lacking as a freshman and sophomore. He was very much a defensive wrestler, scoring off other people’s attempts. He’s still a good defensive wrestler but now he’s got a takedown of his own that has made him even more dangerous on his feet. He’s still very tough to take down.”
Markkel Moore has the most state experience on the team, heading to Columbia for the third-straight season. He placed fifth at 138 pounds two years ago and second at 145 last year. His goal is a state title this year at 152 pounds.
At the district tournament Moore was 4-0 to win the district title, pinning his first three opponents and then winning by injury default to improve to 39-5 this year. He’s ranked fifth in the state.
“The first time I was nervous, second time not as nervous and this year I’ll be confident going into state,” he said.
Of his 39 wins this year, 34 came by pin. Of his five losses, three came to Seneca’s state champion Trey Smith.
“We’re on the same side as the number-one ranked wrestler in the state,” Brown said. “We haven’t lost to a single Class 3 wrestler all year. His only losses are to Trey Smith, a state champ last year and he lost to an All-American from Arkansas at 160 pounds and an overtime match to a No. 2 wrestler. Some people will just see the losses but he’s right there with the best ones in the state.”
The state action starts Thursday evening, with Class 3 first-round matches starting at 5 p.m. The quarterfinals will start at 1:30 p.m. Friday, with semifinals Friday evening and fourth-round wrestlebacks, third and fifth-place matches and championship bouts on Saturday.
Brown said the biggest first-round match for the Tigers will probably be Pugh’s match against Winnetonka’s Tyler Stults, a senior ranked fifth in the state with a 33-5 record. Carthage hasn’t wrestled him before.
“If we win that one he has a good chance to place at state. If he loses it life will be a little more difficult for him,” Brown said.
Brown said last week he didn’t think the team had peaked yet, and he still doesn’t think so even after a third-place finish at the district tournament.
“Hopefully we’ve got things timed out to where kids are going to be wrestling their best all year,” he said. “The boys are in great shape. This is probably the best physically-looking team we’ve had and a lot of that is kids are working hard.”