Tolton, Rock Bridge advance to final round of wrestling championships

Friday, February 21, 2014 | 10:32 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — It's been more than two years since Jaydin Clayton (37-0) lost a wrestling match. But he remembers it very clearly.

Clayton was in eighth grade when he faced Weston Basler.

“I vowed never to lose again,” Clayton said.

On Saturday, Clayton will compete for his third state title for Fr. Tolton Catholic Regional High School. His high school career record heading into the championship match is an astounding 104-0.

Clayton and fellow Trailblazer Will Tindal (33-2) advanced through the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Missouri State High School Activities Association wrestling championships at Mizzou Arena on Friday.

Rock Bridge and Battle High Schools both competed Friday as well. Four Rock Bridge wrestlers advanced to championship matches Saturday, while Battle fell just short of winning a medal.

Clayton started off the morning by breezing through his first match. He took down his opponent five times in the first period. The two-time state champion would take his opponent down and let him back up, only to slam him back to the mat.

Clayton was playing with people. He said he could have gone for the pin at any point in the match, but that isn’t how he wrestles.

“My style of wrestling is to try to break the mind, to the point where they can’t wrestle anymore,” Clayton said.

When the Tolton coaches urged Clayton to get a fall for the team points, he went for it.

“My coaches said we needed the points for our team, so I’m like, all right, I got this,” Clayton said.

Clayton’s semifinal match was the same. He won that match 18-3 on a technical fall.

Tindal took an early advantage in his quarterfinal match and never looked back. With 25 seconds left in the second period, Tindal used an ankle pick to flip and pin his opponent.

Tindal was picking his point of attack and had a distinct physical advantage throughout the entire match.

In his semifinal fight, Tindal found himself down early, but battled back to take a 6-3 decision.

Over on the class four mats, Rock Bridge performed well for the second day in a row.

The first two Rock Bridge Bruins to take the floor Friday fought on neighboring mats. Brock Davis (23-15) dropped a 3-1 decision in the Bruins' first loss at the event. On the mat to the right, Josiah Kline (39-3) won his match by a 2-0 decision.

Four other Bruins took their quarterfinal matches.

In the semifinals, Rock Bridge wrestlers Kline (40-3), Jason Kiehne (40-2), Samuel Crane (43-2) and Cody Maly (15-1) won their matches.

Rock Bridge Coach Travis Craig said that this was like a dream tournament for his team and easily the best tournament he has coached in his six-year tenure at Rock Bridge.

“It’s incredible,” Craig said. “You just can’t ask for more than this.”

Craig said that his wrestlers have taken all the close matches, and he attributes that in part to a strong group of senior leaders. Three of the four seniors will be competing for championships tomorrow. The Bruins sit in second place with 105 points, which is three points fewer than first-place Park Hill.

Battle didn’t fair so well. Chris Zachary, the only Spartan to win his first match Thursday night, fell in 3-2 triple overtime. Battle head coach Ben Smith said he is trying to keep Zachary thinking positive. He still has a shot at the third place medal.

“His goal is to be a state medalist, so he has to get two more wins now to achieve that goal,” Smith said after the quarterfinal matches.

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