BY TRAVIS DAVID
INDEPENDENCE — Two years ago Dyoni Mundy did not know wrestling was an option for girls.
Tuesday when she walked out from the tunnel and onto the mats inside Cable Dahmer Arena she was the first grappler in the short history of the Palmyra girl’s program to wrestle in the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.
Understandably, nerves may have got the better of her from the brightest of lights on the grandest of stages. It wasn’t the ending Mundy had hoped for, but it was a remarkable season nonetheless.
With losses in her only two matches on the day, the 122-pounder wrapped up her historic season with a 31-8 record.
Last season, her first on the mats, Mundy fell one win shy of qualifying for the state meet while compiling a 13-15 record.
“It was a tough day for her,” Panthers’ coach Josh Buatte said. “But when you get here to the state tournament, every opponent is going to be tough. We would have liked for her to get a win or two, but I am extremely proud of her for how far she has come.”
Mundy admitted she may have let the big stage get to her.
“I thought I would be more comfortable but I guess you can’t really expect to be comfortable with something you have never done before,” the junior said. “It’s not what I expected…it was a lot bigger and for the first time here, I can say I got nervous. But I will be ready for next year.”
In the first match of the day, Mundy faced Cassville sophomore Kailey Artherton.
After battling on her feet through the first 60 seconds, Mundy finally caved to a takedown — Artherton got in on an outside single-leg before finishing with a double-leg. Moments later Mundy could not fight off her back for the first-period loss.
In her final match, Mundy faced a familiar opponent in Holt’s Marissa Sanabria. The two met on the mat in the championship of the sectional just two weeks ago.
Unlike the sectional match, Tuesday’s bout went the entire three periods.
After falling in the second period previously, Mundy dropped a 10-2 major decision.
“If there is a win for the day, it’s the fact that she was able to go the distance against a tough opponent that pinned her last time,” Buatte said.
The match turned in the second period. After a scoreless 60-second first period, Mundy had the option of position to start the second. The Panther chose to be top.
Sanabria broke the scoreless tie with an escape 27 seconds into the period before securing a takedown 10 seconds later for a 3-0 lead.
After coming up with an escape, Mundy nearly tied the match with a takedown of her own but could not complete the move. Sanabria then picked up her second takedown of the match and a 5-1 lead.
“She was able to get in deep on a couple of shots but just could not finish them,” Buatte said of his grappler. “But that’s just how it goes sometimes. Now we know what we need to work on to finish those in a couple of different positions.”
As for the decision to choose the top, Mundy said it’s the position she is most comfortable.
“I am usually at my best on top,” the 122-pounder said. “I knew if she was on top and threw in the legs or something like that it could have ended a lot sooner. But I just have to be able to work on finishing my moves better.”
The third period was a replica of the second with Sanabria starting on the bottom and recording a quick escape and a pair of takedowns while Mundy recorded an escape.
“My body was just against me,” Mundy stated. “That’s not an excuse…I tried my hardest but she just wrestled right back. She is a good strong wrestler. I just was not able to finish and that is on me.”
Although the season ended with a pair of losses, Mundy said it was still a positive experience.
“It’s never fun losing but I enjoyed getting here,” she said. “It was an honor to be here and represent my school and show that our program can produce people who can excel.
“There were a lot of people (fans) here and the lights were bright…there were four big ole mats out there and I was on one of them. Just getting here I accomplished my goal and anything else was just icing on the cake. Now I want to be the first to place here next year.”