As tempers rose with Lexi Petersen’s wrestling career on the line, the Benton senior rose to the occasion.

In the midst of a heated battle in the third-place bout of the 112-pound division at Saturday’s Sectional 4 meet in Platte City, Missouri, Petersen retreated from a scuffle with Park Hill South’s Mystyque Anderson and walked back to coach Brad Hubbard.

After some shoving and exchanged words, Anderson was tagged with two penalty points, leading to a 3-0 lead for Petersen. She then produced in a near fall in the final frame to earn a 6-0 win and a berth to the MSHSAA Girls State Wrestling Championships.

“That match was crazy. I’ve always been taught there’s no need to start a fight on the mat, just go out and wrestle how you’re supposed to,” Petersen said. “Today was not the day to get kicked off the mat because that would’ve ruined my senior season for me.”

After bowing out in two matches at last year’s district meet, Petersen now heads to state as just the second district champion ever in Benton’s history, captured two weeks ago. This year was the first in which Missouri added a sectional round to limit the amount of competitors at a singular site due to COVID-19.

While the top-four finishers from districts usually advance, the top three from each of the four sectionals will represent their schools at state, making third-place matches win or go home.

“I got down on myself after I lost my match,” Petersen said. “That last match, Hubbard was just telling me to go out there and leave it all on the mat. He knew I had the strength and ability to go out there and beat that girl.”

Petersen opened with a win by fall before losing Carrollton’s Aiva Mayer, the eventual champion. Petersen then beat Marceline’s Sarah Kussman 2-1 in the consolation semis before her third-place victory.

“It’s a big day for this program,” Hubbard said. “It’s been a long, frustrating, but reward season for these girls. I told them all day long, this is what you’ve wrestled for, worked for and cried for.”

Petersen will be joined by sophomore teammate Tatum Levendahl, who lost a 4-2 decision in her opener before winning three times in the wrestlebacks, winning each of the 137-pound bouts by decision. She clinched a state berth with a 5-0 decision over Cameron’s MaKayla Provin.

“I had doubts coming into today and losing my first match,” Levendahl said. “To be able to persevere and have integrity, you’ve gotta be able to come back and take a loss. It takes a lot to go back out and wrestle back.”

Lafayette junior Isa-Bella Mendoza also punched her second-straight trip to state with a third-place finish at 107 pounds. After winning by fall in the first period of her first match, Mendoza fell to unbeaten champion Jaden Breeden of Liberty. She won her next two matches by fall on the backside.

“I prepared really hard, trained extremely hard. My coaches and mom helped me,” Mendoza said. “It means a lot. I was worried I wouldn’t go. It means so much to me.”

Eleven northwest Missouri wrestlers will be represented at the championships March 9.

Cameron had two wrestlers fall in the championship round, though 122-pounder Christina Filley and 174-pounder Hollie Hedgpeth are joined at state by 102-pounder Ashley Yamat, who claimed third.

Mid-Buchanan will send Haley Sampson, who placed second at 117 pounds, and third-place finisher Layson Hafley at 143 pounds.

Lathrop’s Josie Wright, a state champion a year ago, settled for second at 143 to Park Hill South’s Maddie Kubicki. Jordan Diercks added a third-place finish at 132.

Plattsburg’s Payge Fuller, a third-place finisher at 125 pounds last year, moved on with a second-place finish at 151 pounds.

102

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Jacklyn Fast (North Kansas City) 24-4 won by fall over Angel Sanchez-Hernandez (Liberty North) 23-14 (Fall 3:26)

3rd Place Match — Ashley Yamat (Cameron) 28-6 won by fall over Loren‘ Patee (Mid-Buchanan) 22-5 (Fall 3:34)

107

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Jaden Breeden (Liberty (Liberty)) 30-0 won by fall over Emma Mott (Staley) 28-10 (Fall 3:24)

3rd Place Match — Isa-Bella Mendoza (Lafayette (St. Joseph)) 22-8 won by fall over Ruby Scarborough (Smithville) 11-23 (Fall 1:53)

112

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Aiva Mayer (Carrollton) 18-1 won by fall over Chloe Sheckells (Staley) 14-5 (Fall 5:56)

3rd Place Match — Lexi Petersen (Benton) 21-10 won by decision over Mystyque Anderson (Park Hill South) 14-5 (Dec 6-0)

117

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Payton Weese (Marceline) 25-3 won by decision over Haley Sampson (Mid-Buchanan) 28-7 (Dec 14-11)

3rd Place Match — Cynthia Martinez (Marshall) 19-5 won by fall over Jazlynn Mahoney (Oak Park) 27-9 (Fall 3:59)

122

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Lexi Hatfield (Staley) 33-0 won by decision over Christina Filley (Cameron) 25-5 (Dec 3-0)

3rd Place Match — Josie Briant (Lawson) 23-11 won by fall over Allison Kraemer (Fort Osage) 14-11 (Fall 2:16)

127

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Eve Herlyn (Park Hill) 27-1 won by fall over Daisy Rapp (Liberty (Liberty)) 25-8 (Fall 3:13)

3rd Place Match — Chase Kiel (Staley) 28-12 won by decision over Aroma Marrufo (Fort Osage) 18-8 (Dec 1-0)

132

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Taryn Johnson (Park Hill) 24-7 won by fall over Madison Leverknight (Winnetonka) 22-1 (Fall 5:02)

3rd Place Match — Jordan Diercks (Lathrop) 19-12 won by decision over Paige Barber (Excelsior Springs) 12-14 (Dec 8-3)

137

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Finley Bickford (Park Hill South) 31-6 won by fall over Lauren Hahne (Fort Osage) 24-5 (Fall 1:19)

3rd Place Match — Tatum Levendahl (Benton) 20-11 won by decision over MaKayla Provin (Cameron) 22-8 (Dec 5-0)

143

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Maddie Kubicki (Park Hill South) 36-0 won by fall over Josie Wright (Lathrop) 14-3 (Fall 1:48)

3rd Place Match — Layson Hafley (Mid-Buchanan) 23-7 won by fall over Veronica McNeece (Smithville) 22-8 (Fall 0:39)

151

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Haley Ward (Fort Osage) 30-1 won by fall over Payge Fuller (Plattsburg) 30-3 (Fall 3:49)

3rd Place Match — Erma Williams (Liberty North) 31-13 won by fall over Sierra Brassfield (Lathrop) 21-12 (Fall 3:56)

159

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Sarina Bertram (Platte County) 39-1 won by decision over Oscarina Jackson (Brookfield) 29-4 (Dec 4-1)

3rd Place Match — Emily Knight (Smithville) 25-9 won by decision over Nevaeh Wardlow (Oak Park) 30-12 (Dec 8-1)

174

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Raziyah Thomas (Marshall) 23-1 won by fall over Hollie Hedgpeth (Cameron) 30-3 (Fall 3:35)

3rd Place Match — Zoey Chrisman (Brookfield) 24-5 won by fall over Hailey Romero (Kearney) 17-3 (Fall 2:21)

195

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — KayLyn Munn (Platte County) 34-2 won by fall over Amber Houston (North Kansas City) 26-7 (Fall 1:07)

3rd Place Match — Kate Grundy (Liberty North) 33-4 won by decision over Mary-Mae McMillian (William Chrisman) 17-4 (Dec 4-1)

235

Placement Matches (8 Man)

1st Place Match — Kiara Boldridge (William Chrisman) 22-0 won by fall over Lexie Cole (Kearney) 14-1 (Fall 2:24)

3rd Place Match — Elaina Gorton (Liberty North) 8-3 won by fall over Nikaylee Rees (Winnetonka) 21-8 (Fall 4:16)