Something Kailla Bowman never would have dreamed of doing became a dream she turned into reality Saturday.
The Nixa senior, in her one and only season on the mat, became one of three Lady Eagles to qualify for State with top-three finishes in Class 1 District 3 action.
Nixa's Ashlynn Eli was first at 103 pounds, Bowman runner-up at 110 and Harmony Rust third at 187.
“I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and dreams actually do come true,“ Bowman said. “I’m proud of myself for accomplishing something that two years ago I wouldn’t have known that I would even try. You’re only in high school once. I knew I would never get this chance again.”
Of Nixa’s State qualifiers, Bowman had the most dramatic tourney trail. She edged Harrisonville’s Alana Lopez 6-5 in the semifinal round. Bowman held on after leading 6-0.
“Kailla had one of the more stressful matches of the year,” Nixa coach Dustin Martin said. “First, we had an argument between me and her about which position to go with at the start of the second period. That’s something we’re going to talk about and try to correct. Then, there was a total of six penalty points between her and her opponent. We spotted the girl four penalty points with two full-nelson penalties and a clench for a two-point penalty.
“That put us in the situation in which we had to cut the girl loose to try to finish the match on our feet and avoid getting hit with another penalty point. If we had another one, we would have been disqualified from the match.”
“(The ref) called me a couple times for a full-nelson. I put two hands in and you can only put one hand in,” Bowman added. “In the end, I got my hand raised and was so relieved.”
For the final :22 of the match, Bowman kept Lopez from securing a takedown.
“She was trying to shoot a single-leg on me and I was defending it,” Bowman said. “I was circling around. I’m super tired. She wore me out. But you can't stop or that will cost you a trip to State.”
Bowman, who was 3-1 on the day to improve to 22-11, has tried to make up for her lack of experience with hard work.
“When I just started three months ago, I didn’t know much about wrestling,” she said. “I stayed after practice a bunch of days and worked hard. Wrestling is a sport in which you learn a lot mentally and physically.
“I’m happy for Kailla,” Martin said. “She’s a hard-working girl.”
Eli was a dominant champ at 103 while upping her word to 22-1. She recorded three pins, including a fall in 4:50 versus Camdenton’s Taylor Mustain in the final.
“Now that I’ve qualified for State, I don’t have to worry,” Eli said. “It feels wonderful.
“From the beginning, Ashlynn, with her experience, was the most obvious one who we might get through to State,” Martin said. “Her and Kailla are polar opposites. Kailla goes out with full aggression and doesn’t have much technique. Ashlynn is more technique oriented.
“It’s hard to overcome multiple years of experience. That’s an advantage Ashlynn has over most of her opponents. She does a nice job transitioning from a takedown to getting a girl on her back and working for a fall.”
Rust bounced back from a second-round 11-7 loss to eventual 187 champ Mary McMillan by pinning Marshfield’s Laykin Kennemer in 2:54 in the third-place match.