Levi Rayburn, Jackson wrestling

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Jackson freshman wrestler Levi Rayburn. (Kit Doyle)

Jackson freshman Levi Rayburn entered Saturday's SEMO Conference tournament match as a No. 3 seed in the 103-pound weight class.

He left a conference champion.

Rayburn won his semifinal match over Farmington's Todd Brackett, to whom he lost earlier this winter at St. Charles West. He then defeated No. 1 seed Ethan Swingle of Poplar Bluff in a 2-0 decision to claim the title.

"We knew that he had the ability to be able to get first place but coming in he had a loss to one of the wrestlers who was at the tournament," Jackson coach Steve Wachter said. "So he was the No. 3 seed, and he did a great job coming through and getting first."

Wachter, who has a number of young wrestlers on his roster, said Rayburn's upset victory might help other underclassmen on the Indians gain more confidence.

"That's an outstanding achievement to win a conference championship as a freshman," Wachter said. "And I think it might help to boost the morale. Sometimes whenever you are a young wrestler or a young athlete you don't belong with some of the older varsity kids but I think him doing this helps the confidence of some of the other kids on our team that they belong and that they can be successful, too, at a young age."

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