PARSONS – In another Neosho County dual on the road, the Panthers won over Labette County 23-18 on Tuesday evening.

The Panthers survived thanks to an early lead as the Cardinals had an open weight at 125 pounds. 

“(We) wrestled well overall,” NCCC head coach Nick Nothern said. “(It) would have been a different dual if their 125 would have been able to make weight. That gave us six points to start the dual off. Without those six points, we wouldn’t have won. We wrestled really well...”

Labette head coach Jeff Vesta, who was a National champion at NCCC in 2012, knew how paramount that six points was.

“That cost us,” Vesta said. “That’s our lighter guy, Riley Weir, and he’s supposed to be our team leader. So we’ll see how he bounces back. We’re going to have some discussion.” 

In the 133-pound match, Neosho’s Kolton Smith got the technical fall over Labette’s Kardan Lee.

“Kolton Smith wrestled great,” Nothern said.

Vesta had his thoughts on the match.

“We’ve seen him before and he’s a good wrestler,” Vesta said.

“We’ve got another guy we’re trying to get down to that weight right now. We wrestle them again next week, so we’ll probably fill that spot with somebody else next time we meet up.”  

Neosho County’s Morgan Potts then won a decision over Labette’s Cade Wathke in the 141-pound match.

Jaime Mitchell pinned Panthers’ wrestler Jose Centeno in the 149-pound bout to get Labette its first win of the night.

Samuel Son won the 157-pound match for the Panthers with a decision over Labette’s Traylon Jackson.

“Sam Son had a big win – gutted it out,” Nothern said. “I was happy for him.”

In one of the more exciting matches of the night, Neosho’s Dalton Misener at 165 pounds nearly overcame a match-long deficit versus Labette’s Vernell Hawkins. In the waning seconds of the third period, Misener tied the match at 9-9. But he would eventually lose in a decision.

“(Hawkins) just wrestled first whistle to last whistle like we tell the guys to do every single day,” Vesta said. “It shouldn’t have been that close of a match, by any means. But if you’re going to put yourself there, you better win that match.” 

Neosho County’s Tyson Villalpando at 174 pounds lost a decision to Labette’s Donnie Hurd.

“He didn’t have a very good night. He just didn’t look like himself,” Nothern said. “I don’t know. He was just kind of flat.”

The Panthers, though, responded with a decision victory at 184 pounds from Walker Lowdermilk over Jeremiah Voliva.

Neosho County got its last bout win at 197 pounds, as Ryan Murphy earned the decision over Andrew Leitold.

“Ryan Murphy got another good win. He’s been kind of on a roll lately – that’s good for him,” Nothern said.

Michael Lieberman ended the night strong for Labette, pinning Neosho County’s Emmanuel Briggs to cap off the dual.

The Panthers won five of the nine bouts held while the Cardinals earned four wins. The early six points granted on the open weight proved to be the difference.

Hosting a set of duals next week, Neosho is preparing for another dogfight and is back in action on Tuesday versus Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Labette once more.

“We’re doing individual workouts this week, so since the dual, we’ve had individual one-on-one workouts with each athlete, because they just need to work on different things,” Nothern said. 

“They’re all struggling in different positions, so we’ve been doing individual workouts to develop...”

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