Tristan Stafford claimed the Class 6A Arkansas High School State Wrestling title a year ago at 106 pounds despite being 6-8 pounds under the weight limit as a sophomore.
The Bentonville High junior returned bigger and stronger this year and dominated the weight class, earning his second straight state championship at 106.
Stafford finished the season 46-1 -- undefeated against in-state competition -- and for his accomplishments has been honored as the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Boys' Wrestler of the Year.
He has not only excelled against wrestlers in Arkansas but also shown to be among the best in the country in his weight class. Stafford also earned back-to-back All-American honors at the United States Marine Corps Cadet and Junior National Championships held over the summer in Fargo, N.D.
Addison Loney of Van Buren bounced back from a loss in the 6A-West conference tournament to claim the state title in the inaugural Arkansas Activities Association-sanctioned girls' state wrestling tournament at 140 pounds. The sophomore also earned the distinction as the first girls' All-NWADG Wrestler of the Year.
Stafford acknowledged last season he was focused on using good technique to pile up victories since being undersized. He did that just fine to the tune of a 50-8 record. But this season was different, Stafford said.
"I had to focus on myself last year being under weight," Stafford said. "This year I was able to focus on not just winning but being able to help my team by getting bonus points whenever I could."
That worked out well, too, as Stafford helped the Tigers claim their fourth consecutive state team title.
Bentonville coach Jason Adams said Stafford is hard on himself even after wins and sets his goals high.
"Tristan's always motivated to go further and do more," Adams said. "He believes he can win every match and that attitude can take you a long way in life. He's not looking to be second in anything he does."
Stafford was hoping to go undefeated but lost a tough match to an Oklahoma wrestler who would later finish as a state runner-up. Stafford didn't let it derail him though.
"You can only learn from those things," Stafford said. "You can't sit on them and get yourself in a bad place. I think it helped me in the long run."
Loney (22-2) managed to win several matches last season against boys as a regular in the Pointers' line. The freshman was only one win away from a medal in the 6A-West conference tournament.
"When you go up against a boy and shake hands, you can see whether they are gonna try their hardest because they don't want to lose to a girl or be nice," Loney said. "Sometimes that's not the best idea for them.
"Sitting across the mat they think they have the easiest match. But then you whip their tail end and they re-think that."
Van Buren coach John Petree has watched Loney progress and believes she will have a shot to wrestle in college. She's become an example and should help the girls wrestling team grow.
"We're hoping she's the face of the franchise so to speak, helping to get more girls out," Petree said. "She's about as tough as they come."
Loney lost in the finals of the 6A-West conference tournament and she admitted it hurt. But she roared back to dominate her opponents in the state tournament.
"I was so heartbroken," Loney said. "She definitely beat me, 100 percent. But I pulled myself together and beat some girls at state and feel better about it."
Stafford was planning to compete in several national events but that's been put on the back burner by the recent covid-19 pandemic. Those events include a third trip to Junior Nationals and trying to break through to the finals after finishing third each of the last two years.
"I'm still getting my work in," Stafford said. "We just have to see how things lay out."
Loney, on the other hand, is recovering from a back issue, which plagued her throughout the high school season and is hopeful of returning to action soon.
All NWADG Wrestling
Wrestler of the Year
Finished with a 46-1 record and won his second consecutive Class 6A state tote at 106 pounds.
Finished undefeated against in-state competition and earned a win by fall against two-time state champion Charles Easterling.
Charles Easterling^Bentonville West^Jr.^113
Won the Class 6A state title for the second consecutive season
Earned the Class 6A state title and finished with a 31-15 record.
Finished 21-1 and won the Class 6A state title
Claimed his third consecutive state title and finished 53-2 — undefeated against in-state competition.
Finished with a 37-8 record and took second in Class 6A, losing a tough 7-6 match in the finals.
Was dominant this season, finishing 51-2 and winning the Class 6A state title after moving from Nebraska in the fall.
Brady Stafford^Bentonville West^Jr.^152
Won the 6A state title, finished with a 48-4 record and claimed 6A-West conference title.
Won the Class 5A state title, finishing 43-7 and also defeated the Class 4A state champion at the Meet of Champions
Lucas Hankins^Shiloh Christian^Sr.^170
Won the Class 4A state title and finished with a 37-3 record.
Devin Swearingen^Van Buren^Sr.^182
Took second in Class 6A, finished with a 36-8 record and won the 6A-West conference title.
Charlie March^Rogers Heritage^Sr.^195
Won his second consecutive Class 6A state title despite battling another knee injury and knocked off the 5A champion at the Meet of Champions to finish undefeated.
Won the Class 5A state title, finished with a 42-3 record and won the 5A-West conference title.
Earned his second consecutive Class 4A state title, pinning his way through the state tournament to finish 39-0.
Wrestler of the Year
Addison Loney^Van Buren^So.^140
Claimed the state title at 140 pounds and finished with a 22-2 record.
Violet Summers^Van Buren^So.^100
Won the 6A-West and state titles while finishing 20-1.
Took second at the state tournament and avenged a loss in the 6A-West conference tournament.
Kassidy Haggard^Bentonville West^So.^116
Finished 18-2 and taking second in the state tournament after winning the 6A-West conference title.
Finished third in the state tournament with a n26-2 record and won the 6A-West conference title
Finished second in the state tournament and claimed the 6A-West conference title.
Addison Loney^Van Buren^So.^140
Finished second at the 6A-West conference tournament but pinned her way to the state championship.
Finished fifth in the state tournament with an 18-12 overall record and avenged a loss in the 6A-West conference tournament.
Alecia Gray^Rogers Heritage^Jr.^165
Finished fifth in the state tournament with a 19-8 record and avenged a loss in the 6A-West conference tournament.
Kelseigh Archer^Van Buren^Sr.^185
Finished sixth in the state tournament with a 16-8 record and claimed the 6A-West conference title.
Finished sixth in the state tournament with a 10-3 record and claimed the 6A-West conference title.
Jacob Solomon^Shiloh Christian
Colin Hornaday^Maumelle Charter
John Linndstrand^Pulaski Robinson
Riley Holman^Pulaski Academy
Noah Bowerman^Shiloh Christian
Dusty Reasons^Glen Rose
Brady McCall^Pulaski Robinson
Josh Cady^Pulaski Academy
Brayden Phillips^Glen Rose
Preston Smith^Pulaski Robinson
Rodney Phillips^Glen Rose
Drew Johnston^Pulaski Academy
Roland Priuden^Batesville Southside
R.T. Noel^Pulaski Robinson
Futa Shinkawa^Pulaski Academy
Zachary Lutz^Valley View
Carter Bierbaum^Pulaski Academy
Gavin Goddard^Shiloh Christian
J.P. Cady^Pulaski Academy
Lucas Hankins^Shiloh Christian
Dylan Allison^Pulaski Academy
Ian Biurton^Central Arkansas Christian
Matthew Hugg^Pulaski Academy
Derrick Alexander^Pulaski Academy
Dane Warburton^Pulaski Academy
Jacob Dunn^Batesville Southside
Alex Cooper^Batesville Southside
Josiah Johnson^Pulaski Academy
Cole Littrell^Valley View
Ben James^Little Rock Christian
Aiden Richey^Mountain Home
Thoams Garner^Little Rock Christian
Austin O’Neal^Lake Hamilton
Landry Beeching^Sylvan Hills
Reuben Eye^Hot Springs Lakeside
Justin Crutchmer^Lake Hamilton
Brian Gittens^Little Rock Christian
Ethan Bittle^Little Rock Christian
Keaton Wasson^Hot Springs Lakeside
Drew Yonkers^Mountain Home
Wyatt Wolf^Lake Hamilton
Murphy Hannan^North Little Rock
Charles Easterling^Bentonville West
Tyler Holmes^Bentonville West
Lane Parrish^Springdale Har-Ber
Zack Ireland^Bentonville West
Jackson Smith^Little Rock Catholic
Daryl Easterling^Bentonville West
Bradley McDaniel^Little Rock Central
Brady Stafford^Bentonville West
Giovanni Caviasca^Springdale Har-Ber
Vincent Bryant^Little Rock Central
Kenneth Roset^Little Rock Catholic
Devin Swearingen^Van Buren
Charlie March^Rogers Heritage
Devin Potter^Fort Smith Northside
Jermain Taylor^Little Rock Central
Josh Beesley^Bentonville West
R.J. Riley^Van Buren
Joseph Williams^Fort Smith Southside
Violet Summers^Van Buren
Daijah Cowan^J.A. Fair
Kassidy Haggard^Bentonville West
Casey Kanaday^Little Rock Central
Hannah Burton^Central Arkansas Christian
Addison Loney^Van Buren
Trinity Willett^Mountain Home
Victoria Bevel^Mountain Home
Zaria Raglin^Little Rock Central
Journey Land^J.A. Fair
Kuyndall Bankston^Little Rock Central
Crystal Allen^J.A. Fair
Amelia Frounfelter^Mountain Home
Victoria Harris^Dove^J.A. Fair
Ivana Elliot^Sylvan Hills
Janell Collins^Little Rock Central
Sports on 03/24/2020
Print Headline: Stafford, Loney blazing trails in state