The Jackson wrestling team travels to Lindbergh this Friday to compete in what head coach Steve Wachter calls the toughest district he has seen in all of his 36 years of coaching at Jackson.
This would be Class 4 District 1, which returns five wrestlers who went on to win an individual Class 4 State Championship in 2017.
Three of these wrestlers are from reigning district champions Christian Brothers College, starting with the team’s three-time state champion and Missouri commit senior Malik Johnson, who is competing at 126 pounds this year.
Johnson is ranked as the No. 1 wrestler at 126 pounds in Class 4. He is also ranked fourth in the nation among wrestlers in his weight class by InterMat.
Jackson will forfeit the 126-pound bracket, which is the weight class former Indian Gus Guilliams placed second in a year ago to qualify for state.
The second state champion for CBC is sophomore Joshua Saunders, who won the title at 132 pounds, but made the move to 138 pounds this season. Saunders is ranked first in Class 4 and 12th in the nation at 138.
Making the move with Saunders to 138 from 132 pounds is Jackson junior Braden Vaugier, who has compiled a record of 42-8 this season heading into districts.
Vaugier was pinned by Saunders in the district quarterfinal round last year in 47 seconds.
CBC’s final state champion from last season is two-time state champion senior DJ Shannon at 160 pounds, who made the move to 170 pounds this year. Shannon is verbally committed to West Virginia.
Shannon is ranked No. 1 in his weight class while also being nationally ranked in 10th place at 170 pounds.
Wrestling at 170 pounds for Jackson in districts this season will once again be junior Justin Singleton, who is currently 38-11 overall.
Ranked No. 6 in Class 4 at 170 is Seckman junior Jermey Ashlock, who pinned Singleton in the district quarterfinals last year with 30 seconds left in the first period.
Seckman junior Kai Orine was last year’s 113-pound Class 4 State Champion, who is now wrestling at 120 pounds. Orine is second in Class 4 behind CBC freshman Vincent Zerban, but is ranked 14th nationally.
Wrestling at 120 pounds for Jackson will be sophomore Grady Livingston (27-19), who did not compete in districts last season.
The final returning state champion in Class 4 District 1 is Eureka senior Kyle Dickhaus at 182 pounds. He continues to wrestle in the same weight class, ranking No. 2 in Class 4.
The only wrestler to place for Jackson at districts last season was sophomore Cole Amelunke (37-4), who took third at 195 pounds. He has primarily wrestled at 182 this season.
These state champions also won their respective district championships as three others who return this year claimed a district title as well.
One is CBC senior Cevion Severado, who won the 106-pound district title and went on to place second in state. Severado is wrestling at 113 pounds this year and is currently ranked No. 2 in Class 4 and 11th nationally.
Second is Parkway South junior Garret Kloeppel, who defeated Guilliams by a 7-0 decision to claim last year’s 126-pound district championship. Kloeppel went on to place second in state.
Kloeppel has made the move to 132 pounds this year, currently ranked No. 1 in Class 4, the same weight class Jackson freshman Garner Horman has gone 34-4 overall in.
Kloeppel and Horman met at this year’s Kyle Thrasher Tournament where Kloeppel was victorious by technical fall at 15-0 in the semifinals.
The final returning district champion for C4D1 is Lindbergh senior Logan Wells at 220, who was able to defeat former Indian Bryce Dickerson in the semifinals.
Wells currently ranks No. 4 in Class 4 behind Lafayette senior Cortez Woods, who fell to Wells in the first-place match by a 3-2 decision.
Wrestling at 220 in districts for Jackson will be junior Kevin Crites, who has a combined junior varsity and varsity record of 26-13.
At 106 for Jackson will be No. 5 in Class 4 sophomore Alec Bailey, who is currently 40-6 overall this season, wrestling primarily at 113.
Moving to 113 pounds will be sophomore Rhett Wise-man, who went 31-2 at 106.
Making the move from junior varsity to varsity to wrestle at 160 in districts is freshman Daniel Dickerson (39-1), who placed second at conference this season.