Seven Mustang wrestlers go to nationals, five earn All-American honors

Team One

By Kyle Salomon,

Seven Mustang High School wrestlers went to the Brute Adidas National Wrestling Tournament last weekend and five came out All-Americans.

Seniors David McCright and Gareth Ballard, junior Zach Butler and freshmen Gage McBride and Jackson McNeal finished in the top eight in their respective classes, which earned them All-American status for high school wrestling across the country.

Junior Cody Canida and freshman Alex McCright competed in the national competition, but did not place in the top eight in their weight divisions.

Mustang High School assistant wrestling coach Brad Dick took the seven Bronco grapplers to Independence, Mo.

“Having five All-Americans is a great finish to Dave Rankin’s (Mustang head wrestling coach) legacy,” Dick said. “Most of these kids are a product of Rankin and (assistant coach) Will Allen’s coaching.”

David McCright took second place overall in the 192-pound weight competition. The Mustang senior made it to the national championship bout after upsetting an undefeated wrestler out of Ohio in the semifinal round of the tournament.

Ballard had one of the toughest brackets to navigate in the event at the 138-pound weight class and took fourth place. The MHS senior earned a win against the grappler who eventually took second place in the competition. Ballard had several close matches in the tournament that could have gone either way at the end, but went to the opponent instead.

Butler competed in the 174-pound weight division where he took fourth overall. The Mustang junior made it to the semifinals where he lost on a controversial call to the grappler, who eventually went on to win the national championship.

McBride took fifth place in the 138-pound weight class. The Bronco freshman made it to the semifinal round but also lost on a controversial call in the match where he didn’t receive points that would have given him the victory. He then fell in the consolation semis to the 138-pounder from Lawton MacArthur.

McNeal took seventh place overall in the 174-pound weight class. McNeal is a freshman at Mustang and had a strong tournament showing in Independence.

Canida competed in the 143-pound weight division. Despite struggling in the win column in the event, Canida showed signs of being a strong team leader next season for the Broncos wrestling team.

Alex McCright competed in the 148-pound weight class. McCright went 0-2 in the tournament, but competed well and learned a lot going against some of the best wrestlers in the country.

“This was a great opportunity and experience for our kids that were able to go to nationals,” Dick said. “For our seniors, it was a great way for them to go out. They have done really great things with this program and building it back up to the level it is at now. For the young guys, this was a great stepping stone to next season. This shows what kind of team we can have next year and the years after at Mustang if the guys will continue to work hard and improve every day.”