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Francis Howell wrestling prevails to claim elusive district championship

The Francis Howell wrestling team claimed the Class 4, District 2 championship on Feb. 10 at Francis Howell. The Vikings will take nine wrestlers to the Class 4 State meet on Feb. 15. [Francis Howell athletic department photo]

After the disappointment of five second-place finishes in district tournaments in nine years, Francis Howell coach Kevin Stroh and the Vikings wrestling team finally got to enjoy the euphoria of a district championship on Saturday, Feb. 10.

The Vikings came from behind to defeat Holt and win the Class 4, District 2 championship at Francis Howell. It was the Vikings first title under Stroh in his nine seasons as head coach.

“It’s finally good to get over that hump a little bit,” Stroh said. “It’s a good district and usually there’s a team or two that gets a state trophy out of it, so hopefully we can, or Holt or Howell Central can, go there and make St. Charles and the GAC proud.”

Howell won the tournament with 175 points, Holt was second with 150.5 points. Francis Howell Central finished third with 144 points.

Fort Zumwalt North, Timberland, Fort Zumwalt West, De Smet Jesuit, Troy Buchanan, Francis Howell North and Chaminade rounded out the top 10 finishers in the 15-team field.

Howell had three individual champions in the tournament as sophomore Josh Kyle won 113-pound championship, senior Peter Enos won the 152-pound division and senior Jack Flynn won the 195-pound class.

Kyle’s match against Sam Schultz, of Chaminade, was a big win for the Vikings as it helped them roll with a big surge to dominate in the final round of matches.

“I think we were up maybe three points over Holt going into the final, so it [Josh’s win] kind of gave us a lot of momentum and we won 7 of the 9 matches in that final round.”

Kyle felt little pressure going into the 113 final against Schultz but he knew he would have to battle to knock off the Chaminade standout.

“I knew he had some close matches with top competitors for the state tournament but really I just had my mind focused on doing my own technique and really just having fun with it,” Kyle said. “That was all I really thought about.”

Kyle defeated Schultz by pin in the second period to win the match and claim his first district individual title.

“Last year, I was in the finals as a freshman and the mindset this time was let’s get the job done,” Kyle said.

Enos ran his record to 45-2 with his championship and Flynn extended his perfect season to 43-0 with his title.

Other top finishers for the Vikings included Nathan O’Donohue placing second at 220, JT Roberts third at 106 pounds, Robert Saunders third at 138 pounds, and Ryan Skillington third at 285 pounds.

“We’re really big on trying to fill up the lineup and all 13 guys scored points in the match so it was a real team effort and it’s been that way the whole year,” Stroh said.

Howell qualified nine wrestlers for the Class 4 state meet that begins in Columbia on Thursday and will run through Saturday.

The Vikings finished fifth in the team competition last year and believe that finish can be better this time around.

“We have come through a lot and have had some tough losses but I think this year we’re looking to place higher in the team standings and this year we believe we can do better,” Kyle said.




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