This was among the toughest Class 2 meets in the state, featuring six of the top 10 clubs from last year's MSHSAA Championships -- including state championship Kirksville, which won the meet by a margin of 782.5 to 776.5 points over Smithville.
The Owls placed 16th out of 35 teams with 452.5 points, an improvement of five positions and 123.5 points from a year ago -- when only three-time state qualifier Brandon Standley was in the medal hunt.
Leading Marshall was senior Nick Harper, who won his first four 160-pound pool matches -- three by fall -- before dropping a 6-2 decision to Webb City senior Brayden Goff.
Harper still reached the championship bracket, splitting two decisions to wind up in a rematch with Goff for third place. However, the Cardinal grappler withdrew due to injury.
Freshman Aaron Sims also succeeded in his first major meet. After losing the 132-pound pool opener, he reeled off three straight pins before falling to eventual finalist Brock Polhamus -- a promising Sparta freshman who reached the finals.
Sims was pinned in the quarterfinals and suffered a 5-3 loss in the wrestleback, but then beat Benton sophomore Matt Garza by fall for seventh place.
Senior Berry Benedick also reached the seventh-place match in the 285-pound division, but was stopped in the first period. He reeled through his first four pool bouts with four pins, two of them in a mere 18 seconds, but in the finale was stopped by Maliek Collins -- a state-qualifying Kansas City Center senior who went on to take the gold medal.
Six Owls qualified for the second-tier bracket after pool play, with junior Canaan Heinzler (138 pounds) having the nicest run with an 11th-place showing. Heinzler won two of his first three preliminaries before losing a 7-6 heartbreaker to Smithville senior James Migletz to knock him out of medal contention.
Migletz went on to take the crown while Heinzler won two of his last three tilts, including a technical fall in the final match.
Freshman Austin Ballard (113) won once in a small pool, and again in the bracket, while junior Chris Stevenson (152) split during his four prelims and took the consolation quarterfinal contest -- both winding up 12th.
Junior T.J. Fox (170) had three wins overall to place 13th, while juniors Tyler Eidson (195) and Tyler Morrison (145) each picked up two victories to wind up 15th and 16th, respectively. Freshman Dylan Bellamy (106) was the only other Marshall entry to win a match.
The Owls posted an overall record of 30-50 during the meet, with four in different weight classes than in previous competitions -- Ballard and sophomore Darin Martin (120) moving up and Sims and Heinzler moving down.
Marshall won't be in action again until after the holidays, when it hosts NCMC rival Boonville and Tipton for a Jan. 3 triangular.