One of the area's best annual high school wrestling tournaments took over MICDS High School last weekend, as the 47th Annual Eric Lewis Invitational went off with non-stop action featuring many of the best schoolboy grapplers from all over the area.
Some of the area's best teams also appeared, with state title contenders St. Charles West, McCluer North, and Whitfield all making strong showings at one of the season's last great tournaments before districts begin in two weeks.
The three local programs also did well, with Ladue finishing fifth overall, and MICDS and John Burroughs claiming 14th and 15th place respectively, out of 19 teams.
Neither team was able to produce any individual champions, but Ladue did get a pair of third-place finishes from seniors Antonio Escobar at 106 pounds and Jeff Orr at 145, and a fourth-place finish from previously undefeated senior Chase Ridenour at 152.
Burroughs also had one third-place finisher, with senior Christian Bledsoe earning a bronze medal at 182 pounds.
The dominant team of the weekend though, was Wentzville Holt, which had seven wrestlers advance to the finals in their respective weight classes, with five of them winning the individual championship, and a total of 11 of their 14 wrestlers competing at the event finishing no worse than fourth.
The Indians, who totaled an incredible 278 points, easily claimed the team championship honors over St. Charles West (169 1/2 points), McCluer North (143 1/2), Whitfield (138), and Ladue (132 1/2).
There were several exciting matches in the finals, which included Whitfield's Chris Wilkes -- a defending state champion whose headed to North Carolina State next year -- pinning Pacific's Jeff Miller in 61 seconds to win the 138-pound crown.
The most exciting and possibly most controversial finish came in the 182-pound championship, when top-seeded McCluer North wrestler Josh Wheeler was granted a two-point takedown in the final seconds of his match against Holt's Zack Wagster.
The Wentzville senior Wagster had thrilled the crowd with an incredible upset bid against Wheeler, and led 1-0 in the scoring, but had to settle for second place when Wheeler managed to take him down as time ran out in their match.
Some questioned if Wheeler's final move came after the final horn, but the match official said it came with one second left, and the McCluer North senior was able to claim first place.
ERIC LEWIS INVITATIONAL FINAL RESULTS
1. Wentzville Holt -- 278
2. St. Charles West -- 169.5
3. McCluer North -- 143.5
4. Whitfield -- 138
5. LADUE -- 132.5
106 -- Sidney Oliver, Wentzville Holt
113 -- Mike Brown, Wentzville Holt
120 -- Colby Smith, Wentzville Holt
126 -- Dalton Adams, DeSoto
132 -- Lawton Benna, Wentzville Holt
138 -- Chris Wilkes, Whitfield
145 -- Devin Fennessey, Union
152 -- Clayton Ream, Wentzville Holt
160 -- Casey Bartee, St. Charles West
170 -- Austin Repp, Pacific
182 -- Josh Wheeler, McCluer North
195 -- Bennett Lewis, Westminster Christian
220 -- Travon Butler, McCluer North
285 -- Daniel Vaughn, Hazelwood West