RHS senior O’Connell medals to wrap record-setting wrestling career

Republic wrestler Jonathan O’Connell finished his high school career with a fourth-place medal at the Class 4 state wrestling tournament in Columbia. O’Connell became the first three-time state medalist from Republic since Cody Sandridge, following up his consecutive runner-up finishes in Class 3 in 2018 and 2019. He also finished his career with a school-record 177 match wins.
Wyatt George fell just one point short of earning a medal at 106, losing in the “bubble match” that determines which wrestlers will make the all-state cut. He finished his season with a 43-6 record.
This was the first year for Republic to compete in Class 4, the largest state classification, and O’Connell said it was a bigger step up than he anticipated.
“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think of it as being much different from Class 3. But getting to state, it’s a whole different world,“ O’Connell said. “All in all, I thought I had a decent tournament. It’s not the best, not what I wanted, but I still came out with a medal.”
One indication of the difference in competition is George’s finish, according to coach Jerry Morton.
“Wyatt was close. It was a one-point match there in that bubble round. He was right there all year long, beating good kids,” Morton said. “He was a victim of going up in class. You look at Class 3, [one] kid in finals, we pinned twice this year.”
The wrestler who beat George in the quarterfinals, Colton King, went on to win the Class 4 state title. King and the wrestler he beat in the state championship match –– Zan Fugitt of Nixa –– were responsible for three of George’s six losses during the season.
Morton said he thought both George and O’Connell wrestled well, even though both fell short of their goals for the weekend.
“I think we wrestled well. Even in the matches we lost, we were close in those matches,” Morton said. “There are some things to look forward to. We’ve got a couple of young kids coming up. Connor (Sandridge) is a freshman. We’ve got Wyatt back another year. Kids are going to do some stuff in the off-season. We’ll look to keep building.”


Lawrence County Record

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