(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The SEMO Conference Tournament for high school wrestling is coming to the Sikeston Field House on Friday and Saturday, bringing in schools from all around southeast Missouri. Cape Central, Dexter, Farmington, Jackson, New Madrid County Central, North County, Park Hills, Park Hills Central, Poplar Bluff, Ste. Genevieve, Sikeston and Windsor will all be represented on the mat.
Wrestling will begin Friday at 6 p.m. and on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Medals will be presented to the top four wrestlers, and trophies will be awarded to the top two teams.
Sikeston wrestler Gavilan Bland is anticipating a big weekend for himself and the rest of the Bulldogs in the tournament.
"Well, I'm hoping to take first (place)," said Bland. "But, there's a couple of good kids. I got beat by the Farmington kid (Jon Gurule) earlier, so that might bring my seed down. I just hope to take first--it's at home, and it's my senior year, I'm going to love it."
Bland's seeding could have been a little lower than desired after losing to Gurule, due to the fact that the tournament seeding is based off of the NFHS wrestling rulebook, where the No. 1 criteria is the record against common opponents.
Sikeston wrestling coach Kent Gibbs said that the tournament is probably the second-major tournament in the area, and that he is just happy that Sikeston is the final destination.
"You talk about the Tiger Classic, and the SEMO Conference--there's going to be some really good team wrestling with Farmington, Jackson and Ste. Genevieve," Gibbs said. "Those are probably the top three teams going in."
"Gavilan (Bland) finished third last year," Gibbs said. "And, Jacob (Murphy) is a freshman that's really wrestled well for us."
At the interview, Gibbs said that he would've been disappointed if Murphy hadn't received a top 4 seed.
In Wednesday night's tournament seed meeting, the Bulldogs came out with three wrestlers receiving seeds in the tournament.
Murphy (112 pounds) got in as the No. 2 seed, Nick DeLaRosa (119 pounds) as a No. 4 seed, and Bland (171 pounds) received a No. 2 seed.
The top six wrestlers in each weight class are awarded seeds (1-6) in the tournament, in two combined pools, A and B. In the finals on Saturday, the gold bracket, or championship bracket, will feature the top two finishers in Pools A and B battling for the overall championship in each weight class.
Gibbs added that there will be plenty of great wrestling to go around on Friday and Saturday, with action taking place Friday evening until around 10 p.m. and Saturday lasting until around 9 p.m.
Action will begin Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the Sikeston Field House.