Just as Jordan Hurst, Riley Newsom and Thomas Rushing all qualified for State for the first time as Ozark seniors last season, the Tigers’ Nolan Moeller hopes to do the same this weekend.
Moeller will experience Districts for the first time, competing at 138 pounds in Class 4 District 3 action at Nixa.
“It’s my senior year, it’s time for me to either show up or don’t,” Moeller said. “I haven’t really been super nervous, just excited to compete. I can’t wait.”
Moeller’s wait for a starting spot in Ozark’s lineup until this season has been rewarded with a 31-10 record that includes a Kinloch Classic championship.
“At the end of his junior year, he almost decided he wasn't going to do this anymore,” coach Tod Sundlie said. “But he put in a lot of work and was prepped for a good run this year. Whatever happens, he’s had a great year and a really good experience with the team. I hope he takes advantage of his opportunities and wrestles his best. That’s what it is all about, trying to wrestle better than ever before.”
The Tigers are confident Moeller is also well prepared for post-season pressure.
“He’s felt that pressure already this year, with it being his senior year,” Sundlie said. “I think we’re going to see a good Nolan this weekend and hopefully we’ll get him through.”
“I’ve talked to coach Sundlie a lot about how I’m going to wrestle and what my matches are going to be like,” Moeller said. “I’m super excited to go.”
Moeller finished second at the COC Tournament two weeks ago, falling in the finals 4-3 to Carthage’s Eli Sneed (31-4). When the two met earlier in the season, Sneed also prevailed by one point.
It could be another Moeller-Sneed final at Districts.
“I’m ready to compete against him and see what happens,” Moeller said. “He’s learned a lot about me and I’ve learned a lot about him. We kind of know what each other is going to do. It should be a good match.”
Ozark 132-pound junior Levi Maskrod (27-15) is also hoping the lure of revenge can help him get to State. Maskrod has lost two of three matches to Nixa’s Aiden Ward this season. Ward took their matchup at the COC Tournament 10-6.
“That’s a rematch we like,” Sundlie said. “Looking at Levi, he’s had some bumps in the road and also has been a dominant wrestler. We feel good that he could do some damage.”
“We both have the ability to win,” Maskrod said of he and Ward. “It will come down to who wants it more and who wrestles their best.
“I have to bounce back,” he added. “I’m going to show up to wrestle like I should.”
Ozark 220 senior Luke Hulse (9-7) will also be going for his first State berth. He was fourth at Districts last year, but did not place at Sectionals.
Ozark is a defending District champ, but will have newcomers to the post-season at 11 of the 14 weight classes.
Coaches from the District’s 16 teams will meet Thursday might to vote on seeds for each weight class. Sundlie said TrackWrestling.com makes the process rather uncomplicated.
“TrackWrestling decides almost everything beforehand by running common opponents and head-to-heads,” Sundlie said. “Even if it comes down to a vote, there is a lot of respect and it’s an orderly situation. Everyone gives their opinion and we move on.”
The opening two rounds will be held Friday and State berths will be earned Saturday.