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Wrestling coach pleased with progress at Mehlville, despite performance at state

Rome wasn't built in one day and such will be the case for the Mehlville Senior High School wrestling team.

This past weekend was another step for the Panthers in establishing themselves as a legitimate force in the local high school wrestling scene.

Despite the fact that they failed to have a wrestler medal at the state championships in Columbia, the Mehlville Panthers' head coach was quite upbeat about his team's progress.

"Overall, I think we did so-so," Panthers head coach Matt Phoenix told the Call. "I was quite impressed with how our 215-pound wrestler did."

The Panthers' representative at 215 pounds was senior Jake Roesch, who finished in the top eight.

Roesch won his first-round match in a 5-4 overtime decision over Ken Nill of Fort Zumwalt West, yet dropped a 3-1 decision to Wes Vilda of CBC.

But that didn't keep him from staying alive in his wrestleback-match against Andy Glass of Jackson as Roesch came away with an impressive 8-3 win in overtime.

"We were pleased with how he (Roesch) did overall," Phoenix said. "He performed about as well as he could."

In his second round of wrestlebacks, Roesch dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Zach Adrian of Jefferson City.

The Panthers' Jacob Johnson didn't fare as well as his senior classmate in the first round of competition in the 145-pound. Johnson dropped 16-5 decision to Mat Koelling of Oak Park.

"I think that he (Johnson) was a little overwhelmed with the experience," Phoenix said. "He was upset after his first-round loss."

Life didn't get much easier for Johnson in his wrestleback match as he suffered a fall at 1:55 to Bryce Youngberg of Fort Zumwalt West.

"Jacob was upset after that first-round loss and then ended up losing in his wrestleback," Phoenix said.

"He couldn't keep his focus in the wrestleback."

Although the Panthers failed to have a grappler medal at state this season, their head coach was pleased the program's progress.

"We're moving in the right direction," Phoenix said. "I was pleased with the progress overall and happy with what we have."

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