Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Mini-State' Set Saturday in Gac Tourney at West

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Mini-State' Set Saturday in Gac Tourney at West

Article excerpt

St. Charles West wrestling coach Craig Martin called it a "mini-state tournament" while others have referred to it simply as a meat grinder.

The eight-team Gateway Athletic Conference wrestling tournament will be held Saturday at St. Charles West. First-round action begins at 10 a.m., with the finals set for approximately 4 p.m.

"If there's a better conference in the state, I'm not aware of it," said Martin, whose Warriors stunned Bethalto 36-28 in a dual Wednesday at West. Bethalto was ranked No. 1 and St. Charles West No. 2 in the latest Post-Dispatch rankings. "With so many good teams and so many good wrestlers in the conference, it really makes for an interesting tournament," Martin said. "The kids in this area all know one another and most of them have been competing against each other for years. There are some great rivalries between schools and between individuals. "In some cases, it's tougher to win a GAC title than it is a state title." Strange but true. Wentzville senior Erik Simms won the Class 4A state championship at 189 pounds a year ago, but he has never won in the conference tournament. He was runner-up to Class 3A state champions Mark Colegrove (1995) and Jason Moore (1996) of St. Charles West the last two seasons. St. Charles West senior Charlie Rallo and Howell senior Ben Garner lead a group of 15 returning GAC wrestlers who placed among the top six at state last year. Both Rallo and Garner are looking to join some elite company as four-time GAC champions. Rallo, a two-time defending state champion who placed second at state as a freshman, won the league title at 119 as a freshman, 135 as a sophomore and 145 last year. This year, he's competing at 171. Garner, a three-time league champion at 103, finished third in Class 4A as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore and second last year. …

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