With the high school wrestling season now in the rearview for two weeks, the Clinton Herald examined some of the area's best moments on the mat this season.
Gateway schools provided nothing short of an exciting wrestling campaign, as the success of individuals at the state tournament were well-documented. But that wasn't the only time wrestlers caught our attention this season.
Clinton Senior Night (Jan. 18, 2019)
There are few better wrestling environments in the area than Yourd Gymnasium, where the room is devoid of lighting aside from a massive spotlight that illuminates the action at center-court.
Naturally, Senior Night made the evening's festivities even more exciting, as the River Kings bid farewell to five seniors, who were all recognized alongside their families prior to the match.
While Clinton lost to a talented Lena-Stockton co-op program, a three-match stretch towards the end of the dual cranked up the volume among the home crowd.
Trevor Bitner sparked the River Kings' run with a win via fall (5:00) and Ethan Barry made quick work of his opponent, earning the pin in less than a minute. Hunter Randall, Clinton's lone state qualifier, capped the three-match streak with a 6-0 decision victory.
Saber Invitational (Dec. 15, 2018)
In a season in which the prestigious Bob Lueders Invitational in Clinton was canceled due to weather, the Saber Invitational in DeWitt provided fans with an event that showcased several area teams under one roof for an all-day competition.
Camanche and Northeast joined host Central DeWitt for the event – and the trio did not disappoint before a raucous local spectating presence.
Keaton Zeimet and Robert Howard both picked up first-place finishes for the Sabers. Camanche sent Baylor Crigger, Cade Everson and Eric Kinkaid to the top of the podium while Northeast's Remington Overstake earned a second-place result.
"The Saber Invitational has been going on since the 1960s and it is really important for us to keep that going," Sabers coach Matt Ohnemus said after the meet.
Caldwell picks up MAC triangular win (Jan. 11, 2019)
Clinton's first-year coach Dustin Caldwell celebrated a triumph in mid-January when his team swept a Mississippi Athletic Conference triangular meet at Davenport West.
The River Kings defeated the Davenport Central 35-32 and Davenport West 42-31. Clinton's Justin Brewer had a pin and major decision.
Caldwell discussed his intentions of creating a sense of stability throughout the program in a Jan. 31 Clinton Herald article.
"The underclassman will now know my expectations," Caldwell said. "When they grow and become leaders and seniors, the younger group will look to them. Then it keeps rolling and everyone will know what to expect. When you're changing coaches, philosophies are different, expectations are different."
The win over a pair of MAC schools towards the end of the season showed at least a flash of optimism for Caldwell and company moving forward into the 2019-20 campaign.