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Fourth-place finish at Marquette Invitational sign of success to Mehlville wrestling coach

Members of the Mehlville Senior High School wrestling team recently received a good glimpse of some of the state's top talent at the Marquette Invitational.

In last weekend's invitational, the Panthers placed fourth in the Green Division, which was more than enough for head coach Matt Phoenix to deem his squad's effort a success.

"We got some great wrestling in for sure," Phoenix told the Call. "It was successful in the fact that we got to see some of the best wrestlers in the state."

Mehlville senior Jake Roesch defeated Jeremiah Wright of Ritenour to grab a first-place finish at 215 pounds. The Panthers' head coach believes that despite a slow start this season for the senior co-captain, Roesch has the ability to place at the state championships in February.

"Jake's been banged up and got off to a slow start," Phoenix noted. "He's going to have to wrestle really well at state if he wants to medal. I think he's got a great shot to be on the medal stand if he continues to improve."

Another Mehlville grappler who had a solid performance at the Marquette Invitational was senior co-captain Jacob Johnson, who placed third at 145 pounds

"Jacob got off to a slow start this weekend," Phoenix said. "He really had to fight some adversity to come back and take third place."

For the past couple of seasons, Phoenix has been trying to mold the Panthers into a winner. Although they've yet to turn the corner, he believes that they're headed in the right direction.

"We haven't stepped up and beaten any really good competition," Phoenix explained. "Our goal is to get tougher and tougher come districts.

"We've got so many injuries right now that it's hard to win duel meets when you give up so many points."

Mehlville's season doesn't get any easier this week as the Panthers will play host to a stout Fox squad at 6:30 p.m. today — Jan. 15. The Warriors placed fourth at the state championships last season, yet the Mehlville head coach looks at the opportunity as a good chance for his grapplers to get some experience.

"They're (Fox) a talented team and have a talented coach in Don Mitchell," Phoenix said. "We're just trying to get our guys in situations where they can succeed and be able to watch some good wrestling."

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