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St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell adds to growing wrestling legacy with second Missouri state title

Stillwell finishes sophomore season with 51-0 record
St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

COLUMBIA, Mo. – St. Michael the Archangel’s Sampson Stillwell cuts an imposing figure on the wrestling mat.

He is 6-feet-4 and 245 pounds and though he looks more like a Division I tight end than a high school sophomore, Stillwell has established himself as one of the top 285-pound wrestlers throughout the United States.

“The kid’s been great ever since he was a little dude,” St. Michael assistant coach Tyler Curd said. “He was kind of a little short, pudgy kid whenever he started out but then he blew up seventh-, eighth-grade year into the monster he is now.”

Stillwell added to his impressive high school resume on Thursday night at Mizzou Arena when he captured his second straight state championship at 285 pounds and finished his sophomore season with an unblemished 51-0 record.

“It feels good,” said Stillwell, who is ranked by SBLive Sports as the 18th-ranked wrestler nationally at 285 pounds. “They always say the next one is the best one and that’s what I’m feeling right now.”

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

Stillwell won the Class 1 title at 285 a year ago as a freshman, defeating Centralia’s Seth Hasekamp in the championship match. On Thursday, Stillwell captured the Class 2 crown and Hasekamp won the Class 1 title. Hasekamp went 97-1 in his final two years.

What is Stillwell’s high school record through two years?

“Some wins and one loss,” he said, humbly. “I don’t really know the numbers.”

He may not know the overall numbers – 68-1, for the record – but that one loss as a freshman is still fresh in his mind.

“I remember this one – against a big boy from Monett,” Stillwell said. “He’s playing D-2 football right now.”

St. Michael head coach Matt Infranca said that one loss came at the Panther Classic late last season where Stillwell was competing in his first tournament back after returning from a knee injury suffered at the US World Team trials spring of his eighth grade year.

“That weight class was loaded,” Infranca said. “Several of the top-ranked heavyweight kids were there. It was his first tournament back. … He wrestled well but he just got a hold of a guy that was just bigger and stronger. … It happens. But he learned from it and he took those lessons and he’s using them today.”

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

Stillwell regularly finds himself going up against opponents who may outweigh him by 20, 30, 40 pounds or more – “Yeah, big dudes, big boys,” he said – but is able to use his unique size and athleticism to his advantage.

“I’ve got some length and I’m usually quicker than the guys and my strength isn’t too far behind,” Stillwell said.

Infranca said Stillwell works hard in everything he does – in the classroom, in the weight room and on the wrestling mats – and that hard work has prepared him and helps him be successful.

“He’s very seasoned for his young age,” Infranca said. “He’s wrestled year-round for three or four years now. He’s been competing at the biggest tournaments he can get to and he’s had some success. When he comes down here he kind of expects to win. He doesn’t come down to get second and he doesn’t come to any tournament to get second. He comes to win.

“Last spring he was second in greco at the World Team trials and fifth in freestyle at the World Team trials. He has big goals. He wants to make a World Team, he wants to win a world title, and this is just part of that process. He’s enjoying the process and he’s having success.”

It only takes a quick conversation to realize Stillwell is a mature young man in addition to being an outstanding wrestler.

When he took the podium on Thursday night, he wore a dark blue t-shirt with the words “FIGHT LIKE GROEP” across the chest – an homage to Guardians’ assistant coach Tyler Groepel, who suffered a stroke in mid December.

With the spotlight shining on him, in one of the biggest moments of his young life, Stillwell made sure to pay tribute to a member of the St. Michael the Archangel school community who is going through an incredibly difficult time.

“Super humble kid,” Infranca said. “He just keeps his head down and works. He works in the classroom, he works in the weight room, on the mat. He’s just a very good kid, a very special kid and he’s one of those kids that doesn’t come around very often.”

Curd, who said Stillwell sets the attitude in SMA’s wrestling room, described the standout sophomore heavyweight as probably about the nicest kid you could ever meet.

“He’s a big, big, big teddy bear,” Curd said.

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell

St. Michael the Archangel sophomore Sampson Stillwell


MORE COVERAGE OF THE MISSOURI WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Missouri (MSHSAA) Class 2 boys wrestling state tournament: Meet the champions, placewinners, top teams

Missouri (MSHSAA) Class 1 boys wrestling state tournament: Meet the champions, placewinners, top teams

Missouri (MSHSAA) Class 1 girls wrestling state tournament: Meet the champions, placewinners, top teams

Palmyra's Collin Arch captures fourth Missouri state wrestling championship

Photos: Missouri wrestling championships (Boys Class 1-2, Girls Class 1) finals

Pleasant Hill, Centralia win Missouri state boys wrestling titles; Kearney girls edge Brookfield for Class 1 crown

Missouri state wrestling championships preview (Boys Class 3-4, Girls Class 2)

Missouri state wrestling championships preview (Boys Class 1-2, Girls Class 1)


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