The Ray-Pec Panthers hosted the Lee’s Summit Tigers and the Blue Springs Wildcats in a double dual on February 5 in the Pit. And with the added bonus of it being senior night the Panthers managed to clinch the position of conference champions.
According to Head Coach Brett Barbarick, “This is the first conference championship in 8 years.” He attributes their success largely to the senior class who has been a work in progress for the last 4 years. Where getting thrown into the mix as a freshman or sophomore, today’s senior wrestler has developed into an experienced competitor. He adds, “There have been some growing pains along the way, but the end result is a conference championship.” Staying healthy and keeping their form is important now as they look to the district tournament in Jefferson City on February 14.
Also being senior night, the following players were honored for their contribution to their team and school: Matt Barton, Connor Berry, Bailey Carlson, Dakota Cornelius, Echo Demaranville, Aaron King, Brad Loveland, Nate May, Alex Meissen, Jacob Paddock, Lisa Roetvold, Kason Tabor, and Ross Zuber. During the senior ceremony it was announced that: As a team, in the last 4 years, the seniors have tallied over 40 dual wins. From 2013 to 2015 they have combined for a 35-8 dual record. This year’s senior class has more than 170 individual wins this season and over 600 individual wins in their careers.
One of the freshmen who will continue the tradition established by the exiting seniors is Mason Pratt. He knows firsthand what Coach Barbarick is talking about when he refers to “growing pains.” Coming up with a bloody nose on the night, he faced a senior from Blue Springs and was outmatched but stayed competitive. “When in a bout,” he explained, “I try to anticipate my opponent’s moves and stay one step ahead of them.” At this level, though, a lot of his strategy is to not get overpowered. Maintaining his balance, endurance and leverage is as important as offense and points.
Senior Dakota Cornelius won his bout getting the fall to score 6 points for the team. At 220 pounds he is all about the team stating, “I feel good personally when I when and all, but it’s all for the team. When I win personally and we lose as a team, my win doesn’t feel as good.” His personal style is to be as aggressive as possible and try to get the pin. Stating further, “I try to just get a win for my team and do whatever I can.”
The Panthers hit the road in pursuit of the district tournament in Jefferson City on February 14.