Tiger Classic title eludes Jackson

Sunday, December 22, 2002

After starting Saturday strong with four wrestlers reaching championship matches, Jackson came up short in the end and took only one individual title at the 16-team Tiger Classic in Cape Girardeau.

Ben McMillian, Brock Howard, Cody Rouse and Kramer Rampley each worked their way through the field to put themselves in place for titles. Only Rouse got a victory.

"I was kind of disappointed since the other guys from our team didn't win," Rouse said. "But I was happy to come here and win it."

Northwest won the team title 260-246 over Jackson.

Rouse, who finished second at 130 pounds at last year's Classic, put in a dominating performance in the finals against No. 3 seed Kevin Duniven of Lindbergh. Rouse went up 7-1 after the first period and built a 9-2 lead early in the second before getting the pin.

Rouse said Saturday's result could help him become a better wrestler and lead to even bigger accomplishments.

"I hope this is a good sign," he said.

At 125 pounds, No. 3 Howard lost a close decision, 5-4, to No. 1 Matt Cantrell of Fort Zumwalt North. The match was intense throughout with Howard nearly pulling it off at the end. Howard was trying to win a third straight Tiger Classic title.

At 103 pounds, Ben McMillian reached the finals with a win over No. 1 seed Matt Wolff of Pattonville, the defending champion at 103. McMillian lost in the finals to C.J. Oden of Seckman.

McMillian, a freshman, said with the squad as young as it is, it should continue to be in the mix for Classic titles in the next few years.

"When we're seniors we'll be contending for the championship," he said.

Kramer Rampley, a junior, got behind early in his match and lost a 14-4 decision. Jackson did counter its three title losses by picking up three third-place victories. Blake Ulrich, Matt Kahle and Charlie Doerge all brought home third-place finishes for the Indians.

Also for Jackson, Ben Wachter finished sixth. Dustin Fluegge, Kamden Rampley and Greg Ludwig each finished seventh.

Central had a rough day overall. Trever Duncan was the Tigers' top finisher with a second-place finish. Brandon Hinkle, Cory Huskey, Chris Griffith, Jason Poole and Jonathan Poston all placed eighth for Central. Jason Seabaugh finished seventh.

In the team standings, Northwest made a big push on the final day. After entering Saturday in fifth place, the Lions took a one-point lead into the seventh round.

"We had some low-seeded kids step up and win titles and get third," Northwest coach Bob Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm said he was especially proud of the way Chuck Gullett at 152 and Kenny Bowan at 160, who beat Duncan in the championship, stepped up.

"Duncan's a real tough kid, he doesn't loose too much," he said. "That's a big win for Kenny."

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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