Hillsboro junior Joe Becker, top, has a record of 14-0 this season.
Ted Howell photo
By Russell Korando
Hillsboro played its last football game – a Class 4 quarterfinal against Ladue – on Nov. 10.
Many of the school’s varsity wrestlers played on the gridiron for the Hawks and were late in joining their teammates on the mat.
That hasn’t stopped junior heavyweight Joe Becker, who was selected to the all-Mississippi Area Football Conference Red Division first team as a defensive lineman, from posting an undefeated record (14-0) this season.
At the Don Fuhrmann Duals at Hillsboro on Dec. 28-29, Becker won three matches by forfeit, four by fall and beat Pacific’s Trevor Heitsch in an 8-0 major decision. Pacific won the team portion of the standings and the Hawks finished second. Festus came in sixth place.
“(Becker) had a little bit of a slow start with the extension of football season,” Hillsboro head coach Matt Mitchell said. “We brought him back slowly and that helped because he’s 100 percent healthy.”
Becker was a Class 3 state qualifier at heavyweight last season and finished 1-2 in Columbia. He’ll likely face De Soto sophomore Landon Porter when the Hawks host a triangular against the Dragons and Tigers. Porter pinned Becker at last season’s district championship.
Mitchell said Becker isn’t focused on beating Porter more than any other wrestler.
“Joe just wants to compete and win for the team and he wants to get back to the state tournament and prove he fell short of some goals,” Mitchell said.
Senior Dylan Owens wrestled for the first time this season on the second day of the Duals. Owens, a three-time state qualifier who finished second in Class 3 at 120 pounds last season, has moved up to 132. Since Owens didn’t compete during the first day of the tournament, he wasn’t eligible to win a medal. Owens won his matches against Mehlville and Kirkwood with quick pins, but lost 6-2 to Pacific’s Noah Patton.
“He needs some matches to get going again and he lost to a very quality opponent,” Mitchell said.
Jordan Sanders (145 pounds) and Nick Short (126) also finished first for the Hawks. Joe Garner (160) and Zach Bodway (182) came in second, and James Short (120) Jordan Wisdom (195) and Cody Smith (138) placed third.
Sanders won just about every way possible with two victories by forfeit, one by fall, one by technical fall, one by ultimate tiebreaker and two close decisions. Mitchell said Nick Short (18-2) is in “midseason form” after he won seven of his nine matches by fall.
“For Nick, it’s a motivation thing,” Mitchell said. “Being a three-time state qualifier but not reaching the medal stand, he knows this is his final push.”
Bodway, another all-MAFC first teamer, was a .500 wrestler last season but has built a record of 14-5 after finishing 8-1 at the Duals.
“I love what I’ve seen from Zach,” Mitchell said. “He’s one of those seniors doing everything right. Last year he lost based on not being experienced enough and he’s won more close matches this year against ranked opponents.”
The Hawks travel to Kansas City this weekend to compete in the Excelsior Springs Tournament. Mitchell said all four classes are represented by strong teams and the Hillsboro wrestlers could face competition they might see next month in Columbia.
“We saw some great competition there last year,” Mitchell said.