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by Mark Cheffey
The PHS boys and girls wrestling team numbers are up and their new coach is excited about the outlook for a successful season.
Jeremiah Reed, who excelled at wrestling at Hannibal-LaGrange University, where he was named Athlete of the Year in 2018, was already familiar with the PHS program and some of its wrestlers and has been looking forward to taking it on.
“They are hard working kids, and I think we’re going to build something special here,” Reed said.
That building part has already been taking place as Reed did his own recruiting, with the numbers jumping for both boys and girls, from about 10 to 22 boys and from three to more than 10 girls, a few new ones who have come from the youth wrestling ranks.
“But, I think a lot of it came from visits I had with kids in the hallways, kids who were interested and on the edge, and I pushed them in,” Reed said.
The numbers are not the only thing Reed likes either as the program has considerable quality as well.
“We have our hard hitters, and really only need six to win a state title,” said Reed, who indicated the boosted numbers will help the boys team reach a milestone.
“For the first time in school history we will be able to field a full roster,” Reed said, of when the team takes the floor at home this Thursday.
Of course, the boys team will be lead by Collin Arch, who hopes to win a fourth state championship before heading to Northern Illinois University next year to further his wrestling career.
“Some people think he’s a freak of nature, but he’s just a kid who does every little thing exceptionally well.”
Also returning this season are fellow seniors, Jose Juarez, Jayden Sharrow, and sophomores, Brayden Pillars, and Luke Lawson and Evan Pennewell.
Pillars missed by one point of reaching the state medal round last year, and is primed to make that next step this season.
“He’s been working his tail off,” Reed said.
Reed is also looking for freshman, Tyler Spicknall to make a splash, after excelling at the youth level.
Rounding out the boys roster are senior, Clayton Deming, juniors, Zeke Meyers, Cameron Ragar and Talon Markley, sophomores, Stephen McCune, Landon Carroll, Wyatt Pults and Michael Thomas, and freshmen, Wesley Summers, Kadon Timbrook, Parker Kearney, Skeeter Kroeger, Alex Brown, Bryce Jackman and Jackson Goggeshall.
Returning from last year’s girls team are juniors, Grace Fessenden and Anna Ragar, and sophomores Elly Lorenson and Lily Smith, who are now joined by sophomores, Rilee Boatright, and freshmen, Janie Triplett, Aira Hamilton, Summer Gollaher, Clara Keim, Lilly Sharrow and Hannah Damron.
Reed said Lorenson should be ranked first in the state in her weight class, while Hamilton and Triplett come in after winning state youth championships.
And, with experience under their belt, Ragar and Fessenden, Reed said, could “make some noise as well.”
Reed serves as the head coach for both teams, but will receive assistance from Tyler Krietemeyer, who has served as an assistant for the past two years.
“He’s doing an awesome job,” Reed said. “He knows the program, and I know he never wrestled, but some of the best wrestling coaches I had didn’t wrestle either.”
Also helping out are Travis Arch, Collin Arch’s father,and Lance Gauch, Reed’s former college coach.
Reed said an important focus for the team will be recovery.
“If your wrestlers aren’t recovering, you are not going to do very well,” Reed said. “We have good nutrition, and I make sure my wrestlers are drinking water and getting good sleep.
“We’re going to lay every brick we can for this empire.”
There will be strong competition out there including from fellow Clarence Cannon Conference members, Centralia, Macon and Brookfield.
“But I really think this year is when we bring home the state banner,” Reed said.
The boys team will compete in Class 1, District 3 along with Brookfield, Carrollton, Centralia, Father Tolton Regional Catholic, Gallatin, Lafayette County, Lexington, Marceline, Missouri Military Academy, North Callaway, Penney, Polo, Richmond and Trenton.
The girls team will compete in Class 1, District 2 along with Blair Oaks, Boonville, Brookfield, California, Carrollton, Centralia, Chillicothe, Fatima, Fulton, Hallsville, Hannibal, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Macon, Marceline, Marshall, McCluer, McCluer North, Mexico, Moberly, North Callaway, North Point, Orchard Farm, South Callaway, Southern Boone, St. Charles, St. Charles West, Tipton, Trenton, Warrenton, Winfield and Wright City.
Reed said he got a late start in wrestling himself, but found the sport become a major part of his life.
A self-professed “misbehaving kid” growing up in suburban St. Louis, Reed said the Francis Howell North High School wrestling coach took him under his wing and introduced him to the sport he would end up loving and excelling in, becoming a four-time state qualifier who logged 150 wins.
“I can honestly say that wrestling saved my life,” Reed said.
He then competed successfully at Hannibal-LaGrange University before coaching.
When the PHS position opened up, he jumped at the chance.
“I looked into the situation, and it looked like a great place to be,” Reed said.
He and his wife, Samantha, who have three young boys, bought some farm property along with some goats and chickens.
‘‘I guess I’m a country boy now,” Reed said.