SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Big Dogs, a club wrestling program, recently competed in two USA Wrestling tournaments with impressive results.
The Big Dogs, coached by Seth Robison and Louis Gohri with Ivan Robison serving as team leader, were the lone Missouri team represented at the Pat Nailand Open held in Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday.
Competing against wrestlers from Tennessee, Louisiana and Kentucky, the six-man squad of Sikeston High School students placed three heavyweights in the top four.
Joe Johnson, who recently completed his high school eligibility, scored wins in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines in the junior division with 4
-0 records in each.
Johnson, a two-time state medalist, has taken a recruiting trip to McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill., and has trips scheduled to Missouri Baptist in St. Louis and Missouri Valley in Marshall, all NAIA-affiliated schools.
Robert Madison, a freshman heavyweight, placed second in both categories with 3-1 records in each. His only losses were to Johnson in the finals.
Another freshman heavyweight, Josh Northern, finished fourth in each class.
Chris Northern placed third in freestyle, fourth in Greco-Roman in the 189-
Gavilan Bland, at 145 pounds, also placed third in freestyle, fourth in Greco-
Roman, as did 135-pound Craig Burton.
"These kids have never wrestled freestyle before," said team leader Ivan Robison, "and they're competing very well. This program is just going to help our kids catch up faster to other people."
In a recent tourney at Fort Madison, Iowa, the Mick Pickford Tournament, Johnson won his division in a 14-man field.
After recording pins in each of his previous four matches, Johnson and the sixth-place finisher in the Iowa state high school tournament battled into overtime in the final with Johnson eventually gaining the win.
Madison won the cadet division heavyweight title with a 4-0 record, all wins by pin fall.
Chris and Josh Northern each placed fourth in the cadet division in their respective classes.
Bland finished third and was slightly edged by Oak Park's Shane Nay, the Missouri Class 4 champion at 125 pounds, for the tourney's quickest pin, 16 seconds to 15 seconds.
Coach Seth Robison, a redshirt freshman at the University of Missouri, placed second in the 145-pound open division.
The club's next tournament is the Wentzville Freestyle Open on Saturday, April 9.
Anyone interested in assisting the Sikeston Big Dogs with a donation toward travel expenses should contact Ivan Robison at (573) 475-0631.