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Jackson wrestling returns several state qualifiers and plethora of young talent

Sophomore Mollie Metzger finished with an overall record of 21-16 and was one of the Jackson girls team’s three SEMO Conference Champions in her freshman campaign. Photo by Nick McNeal

Following a campaign where the Jackson wrestling program combined for three all-state medalists (two boys, one girl), the Indians are hoping to better compete for team championships as they will have a more full lineup this winter.

In year’s past, Jackson hasn’t been able to fill certain weight classes and have suffered because of that when it came to competing for team titles.

The lone all-state wrestler returning for the Indians will be senior Landon Vassalli, who took fifth place in the 113-pound weight class in Class 4. He finished with an overall record of 37-6, which was the third-most wins throughout the entire program.

Along with that, Vassalli reached 100 career wins last season and currently sits at 104. He also brought home an individual district championship.

“Landon is a really gifted wrestler as in he has a lot of natural tools,” Jackson head coach Steve Wachter said. “In the world of wrestling, we say he has really good hips — a good fell. He’s wrestled his whole life ever since he was six or seven-years-old. … He’s a pretty good big-match wrestler, and he’s also improved his work ethic.”

The two all-staters the Indians graduated were 215-pounder Tyler Beyatte (40-4) for the boys and 120-pounder Mallorie Metzger (36-4) on the girls side.

Beyatte took second place at the Class 4 State Meet, while Metzger finished fourth overall in Class 2 to become the first all-state medalist in Jackson girls wrestling history.

Other graduating seniors who qualified for state last season like boys wrestlers Griffin Horman (38-6 at 190 pounds), Gavin Hicks (32-12; 144), Noah Gibson (28-12; 285) and girls Gracie Metzger (25-8; 115) and Kassie Hodges (10-8; 135) will certainly be missed.

However, Jackson returns several state qualifiers outside of Vassalli in junior Matthew May (25-21 at 138 pounds) and sophomores Kade King (29-13; 120) and Kaden Shaw (27-18; 106). In fact as a freshman, King even reached the Class 4 District 1 120-pound championship match.

Each of these wrestlers will be moving up weight classes as May is projected to compete at 150 pounds, while King is going to take the 132-pound spot and Shaw will compete at either 120 or 126.

Vassalli is also going up a weight class or two to wrestle at either 120 or 126 depending as underclassmen will compete at 106 or 113. These Indians are sophomores Kamden Gerhardt and Grady Rice as well as incoming freshman Nolan Turner.

Rice is likely going to fill the 113-pound weight class after finishing with a perfect record of 30-0 on junior varsity and was 6-1 while wrestling on varsity last year. Gerhardt also had an impressive junior varsity record his freshman year, finishing at 28-2 overall.

As for the spots left by graduating seniors in the top weight classes, the Wessell brothers will hope to fill those spots after their season on the Jackson football team comes to an end.

Senior Hayden Wessell, who is a starting defensive end for the Indians on the gridiron, is set to take over at 190 pounds after sitting behind the likes of Beyatte and Horman the last two seasons. Hayden finished with a perfect record of 27-0 on JV last winter.

As for his younger brother Brysen Wessell, who is one of Jackson football’s starting offensive tackles, he will most likely compete at the 215-pound spot left by all-stater Tyler Beyatte. Like his brother Hayden, Brysen also recorded an overall record of 28-2 on JV a year ago.

Filling in at the heavyweight class will likely be junior Tyler Hudson as he also produced an impressive JV record last winter at 26-2 overall. Freshman like Nolan Adkisson and Grant Parker will also compete at 285 and 215 pounds, respectively.

The 175-pound spot is more than likely set to be taken by freshman Joah Moore as another freshman Caleb Schlick is going to probably fill the 138 or 144-pound weight class.

Rounding out the middleweights for the Indians will be a pair of seniors in Jacob Shirrell at 157 and Brayden Gates at 165. Wrestling at 150 pounds last winter, Shirrell finished with an overall record of 25-23, while Gates finished 15-18 competing at 165.

Moving on to the girls team, one Metzger still remains at Jackson in sophomore Mollie Metzger, who was a 125-pound SEMO Conference Champion and finished with a record of 21-16 as a freshman. Metzger will likely be moving down one weight class to what Mallorie wrestled last season at 120.

Last season, Mollie, Mallorie and Gracie all won conference championships, which was the first time in Jackson history that three sibling wrestlers have eve won a conference title in the same season.

Mallorie also etched her name in the record books outside of her all-state finish by being the program’s first two-time state qualifier and first two-time district champion.

“Mollie is really improving a lot — losing her two sisters is a big hit not only for Mollie but for our program,” Coach Wachter said. “Mallorie and Gracie’s work ethic was through the roof, and they’re as tough as any boys I’ve ever coached. Mollie doesn’t have that in the [wrestling] room anymore, but the girls we do have are working really hard. Mollie is going to have to be tough this year and fight through it, but she’s really improving and has gotten a lot better.”

The only other wrestlers coming back for the Jackson girls team with varsity experience outside of Mollie Metzger will be senior Joey Collins and sophomore Kayleigh Milam.

Milam will likely compete at 110 pounds again after going 8-1 overall in the weight class as a freshman, while Collins is going to move to 115 after recording a 11-24 record at 110 last season.

Two juniors will join these three in Layla McClish at 100 pounds and Haley Sanders, who will compete at 170.

Submitted photo
Senior Landon Vassalli became a two-time Class 4 All-State medalist and reached 100 career wins while wrestling at 113 pounds last winter.

Photo by Nick McNeal
Sophomore Mollie Metzger finished with an overall record of 21-16 and was one of the Jackson girls team’s three SEMO Conference Champions in her freshman campaign.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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