Tag Archives: MMA Athletics

Priester to Grapple in Wrestling Championships

Missouri Military Academy junior Jacob Priester ’14, of Maumelle, Ark., offered a fantastic showing at this year’s Missouri Class 2 District 2 Wrestling Championship at St. Charles West High School.  Competing in the 195-pound weight class and seeded third, Jacob got off to a rough start Friday, losing by pin in the first round.  After receiving a bye in the first round of the consolation bracket, he went on to win his all three following matches by pin, earning  third place overall in the tournament.  Priester’s next match is Thursday at Mizzou Arena in the MSHSAA Class 2 Wrestling Championships, where he will square off against Devon Overall of Monett High School in his first match.

PHOTOS:  See more MMA wrestlers in action on Flickr

Missouri Military Academy Athletics

Priester (left) is also a football captain and plays fullback for the MMA soccer team.

Senior Cadet Signs Letter of Intent for Football

One Missouri Military Academy senior will be suiting up as a student athlete when he attends college this fall.  Nick Vanatta ’13, of Monkey Island, Okla., signed his commitment paperwork to play football for Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

Vanatta has been recruited as a wide receiver by the coaching staff of the Alva, Okla. college, where he is planning to major in criminology.

He built up an impressive collection of accomplishments this fall as a Fighting Colonel.  Vanatta was named to the Missouri Class 3 District 6 First-Team All-District squad after his performance during district play.  The honor was the culmination of a very complete season for Vanatta, who hauled in 31 catches for 514 yards and two scores in 2012.  In addition to leading the team in total offense, he also recorded 36 tackles, 24 assisted tackles, and two interceptions on the defensive side of the football.

A versatile, two-way player, Vanatta was selected by head coach LT Marc Wilson as the team’s most valuable offensive player for the 2012 season.

“It’s been a pleasure to coach and mentor Nick,” Wilson said.  “I’m excited to see him reach his potential both as an athlete and a young man at Northwestern under Coach [Alan] Hall.”

Missouri Military Academy Athletics

Vanatta (left center) signs his letter of intent alongside head coach LT Marc Wilson and Athletic Director CPT John Noel. His mother, Vicki (left), made the trip from northeast Oklahoma to be there for the signing the morning of Wednesday, February 6. His signing comes along with National Signing Day, the deadline for high school athletes to commit to a college.

MMA coaches were not the only ones to notice his skills on the football field.  Wilson accompanied Vanatta to Houston after he was selected to play in the 2012 Offense-Defense Can-Am All-American Bowl held in December.  After participating in several camps leading up to the invitation, his offensive bursts and defensive prowess earned him a spot to play alongside the best high school players in the nation.

Athletic Director CPT John Noel was right there with Wilson and Vanatta as he carefully inked his signature on each document.

“Nick had not really played football until last season, but through hard work and determination both in the classroom and on the field, combined with the guidance of our football staff, Nick achieved his goal of playing football at the next level,” Noel said.

“We want to continue the tradition of putting our athletes in a position to achieve their highest potential, but more importantly the tradition of training our athletes to be great men, citizens, husbands, and fathers.”

Just two months later, Vanatta’s focus is now on conditioning for the fall.

“I’m excited to get started,” he said.  “I’ll do training this spring and over the summer when I’m back in Oklahoma, but once August comes around I’ll have to really step up my game and work hard in camp.”

Vanatta was congratulated by his fellow cadets after the announcement was made at lunch Wednesday.


Norman, Ramos Lead Middle School Wrestling at Centralia

Congratulations to those Missouri Military Academy middle school wrestlers who recently posted fantastic results!  The Junior Fighting Colonels traveled to Centralia to take on other area squads in a tournament over the weekend. Top MMA finishers included Charlie Norman ’17 (2nd place) and Carlos Ramos ’17, Clayton Ebert ’17 and Pablo Garza ’19 (3rd place). Norman finished the day with three pins and Ramos recorded two pins. Ebert and newcomer Garza each had one pin on the day. Head coaches MAJ Richards Boyce and LT Edsel Baker added that the team represented MMA very well on the road. Way to go, middle school grapplers!

Sportsmanship Award is Latest Honor for Soccer Colonels

While the Missouri Military Academy varsity soccer Fighting Colonels may have come up short during this year’s postseason run, the team earned accolades for another type of performance on the field.

At its first annual banquet Saturday, January 5, members of the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association (MSHSSCA) awarded the 2012 Fighting Colonels the Team Sportsmanship Award after displaying outstanding examples of honorable and respectable play on the pitch.

MMA was one of four finalists for this year’s award, which is voted by high school soccer coaches from all around the state.  Canton High School, Duchesne High School, and Lutheran South High School were also nominated.  The finalists receive votes by member schools from all member schools from Missouri Classes 1, 2, and 3.

Missouri Military Academy Soccer

The 2012 squad presented the award to the school, accepted by Academy president Mr. Charles A. “Tony” McGeorge.

Head coach CPT Eric Reynolds says he received numerous compliments about his players from a number of coaches at the banquet.

When receiving the award, Reynolds said Chris Miller, head coach of Colonels’ district rival Southern Boone approached him and said, “I faced this team three times this season and I have seen them win with dignity, lose with dignity, and treat their opponents with the utmost respect every time they set foot on the pitch regardless of the outcome. MMA’s soccer program is a class act and stands out more than any team in the state.”

Fatima head coach Kirby Keith added, “[the] boys have done an amazing job turning around the soccer program at MMA. They are very deserving of this award and represent everything the sport of soccer is about. Please congratulate them on my behalf.”

The honor is just the latest public recognition of MMA soccer players.  Last month, the MSHSSCA named seniors Jose Garcia ’13 and Jesus Gonzalez ’13 as honorable mentions to the Missouri Class 1 All-State team.

Garcia (JO), Gonzalez Named to All-State Team

Two Missouri Military Academy seniors have been named to the Missouri Class 1 All-State Team with Honorable Mention.

Jose Garcia (JO) ’13 (right) spent the first half of the season playing at midfield for the Fighting Colonels, but made a mid-season switch to sweeper.  He scored just one goal all season, but provided leadership in the defensive third.  He recorded 168 steals during the 2012 campaign, including 22 in his final game against Southern Boone.

Jesus Gonzalez ’13 (left) also began his season at a different position than the position at which he finished.  He started out as the team’s attacking  midfielder, but head coach CPT Eric Reynolds called on Gonzalez to play forward.  The move paid huge dividends for Reynolds and his team, as Gonzalez netted 31 goals and assisted on nine.  He peppered opposing keepers all season with 123 total shots.  Six of Gonzalez’s 31 goals came in the season opener against Elsberry.

Missouri Military Academy Socce

Garcia (left) and Gonzalez also led the team as captains during the 2012 campaign.

MORE: See the full list of state winners in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article

Gonzalez finished 2012 as one of the top 100 players in the state, according to maxpreps.com.  He averaged 4.4 points and 2 goals per game, both good for third in Missouri’s Class 1.

It should also noted that Reynolds (below) was named Co-Coach of the Year in the All-Central Region of Class 1 private schools.  Forward Patricio Herrera ’13 and goalkeeper Greg Reding ’15 were also named to the Class 1 District 7 All-District first team, with defender Jacob Priester ’14 recognized as All-District Honorable Mention.

Missouri Military Academy Fighting Colonels

Reynolds led the Fighting Colonels to a 9-6-1 record and a district championship appearance in his first season as head coach.

Vanatta Adds to List of 2012 Accomplishments, Offered Full Athletic Scholarship

A Missouri Military Academy senior continues to add to his impressive collection of accomplishments as a fall athlete playing for the Missouri Military Academy Fighting Colonels.

Nick Vanatta ’13 has been offered a full athletic scholarship to Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla. to play football.  The offer brings the MMA Class of 2013 to a total of $767,000 in scholarships earned so far this school year.

Vanatta was also recently named to the Missouri Class 3 District 6 First-Team All-District squad after his performance this season.

The honor was the culmination of an already outstanding season for Vanatta, who hauled in 31 catches for 514 yards and two scores in 2012.  In addition to leading the team in total offense, he also recorded 36 tackles, 24 assisted tackles, and two interceptions on the defensive side of the football.

A versatile, two-way player, Vanatta was selected by head coach LT Marc Wilson as the team’s most valuable offensive player for the 2012 season.  But MMA coaches were not the only ones to notice his gridiron skills.  He has also accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Offense-Defense Can-Am All-American Bowl in Houston.  After participating in several camps leading up to the invitation, his offensive bursts and defensive prowess earned him a spot to play alongside the best high school players in the nation.

Soccer Colonels Advance to District Title Game

Following a season of ups and downs, the Missouri Military Academy varsity soccer Colonels were given six days to prepare for their opening round district matchup against Fulton.  That rest may have been a contributing factor in the team’s comfortable 4-1 victory over the Hornets Monday night.  Jesus Gonzalez ’13 continued his 2012 success on the pitch, tallying three more goals to run up his season total to 31.

PHOTOS:  See more from the Colonels’ 4-1 Monday night

Patricio Herrera ’13 provided his usual outstanding wing play once again in this game, adding another goal and assisting on a Gonzalez strike.  Keeper Greg Reding ’15 was steady in goal for the Colonels, stopping 21 of 22 Hornets’ shots.

The victory ensured the Colonels a spot in the Class 1 District 7 Championship game Thursday against annual rival Southern Boone at 6:00 p.m.  The Colonels seek to avenge a 7-0 loss to the Wildcats October 15.  The winner of this game will square off against the District 8 champion, which will be either Dixon or Fatima.

Herrera ’13 Nabs Hat Trick as Soccer Colonels Fall Short in OT

For the second time this season, fans were treated to an extra-time thriller at the soccer field.  Despite rain showers that moved through during the second half, the Fighting Colonels gave the Fulton Hornets all they had during Tuesday’s 5-4 double-overtime loss.

Patricio Herrera ’13 on the night, including the 4-4 equalizer with just three minutes remaining in regulation.  MMA trailed 4-2 late in the second half, but the Colonels came on strong in the final 15 minutes of the game.  Jesus Gonzalez ’13 scored goal number 17 to bring the Colonels within one at the 15-minute mark.  Then with time ticking down MMA turned up the offensive pressure and attempted to keep the ball in the Fulton half of the field, trying to create any chance to tie the game.

Herrera stepped up in the 77th minute, lacing a shot off the left post and in past the Hornets’ keeper for his seventh goal of 2012.  A feverish offensive spat by Fulton went by the wayside in the final three minutes and the two teams headed to extra time.

With players slip-sliding all over the soggy pitch, it was difficult for either team to gain an advantage.  But the Hornets would net the golden goal late in the second overtime period giving them the 5-4 victory.

Fernando Estrada ’14 sends a free kick into the Fulton penalty area in the first half.  (Photo by Taps editor Roberto Piza ’13)

The Colonels twice battled back from two-goal deficits, trailing 3-1 and also 4-2 as the second half dwindled, thanks to Herrera’s monumental effort.  He fired home a free kick from 20 yards for his first goal on the night.  His second came off a breakaway as he headed the ball over the keeper at the top of the box and watched as it trickled into the net.

Goalkeeper Greg Reding ’15 stopped 21 of 26 Fulton shots on the night, but offered a stellar performance featuring several vital stops to keep the Colonels within reach.

The soccer Colonels are home against Winfield Thursday evening, followed by a Fall Family Weekend rematch against Kirksville Saturday afternoon, who they will face for the second time in 2012.  The squad notched a 5-2 road victory against the Tigers Sept. 25.

Busy Weekend for Football Colonels

With the University of Missouri just under 40 miles from Mexico, Mo., it is common for cadets to make a trip to campus for an MU football game.  Head coach LT Marc Wilson and assistant coach LT John Noel coordinated a trip for the varsity football team to Columbia, Mo.  The team enjoyed a matchup between the Missouri Tigers and Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday, September 15.

The visit came after a Friday night home loss to the Grandview High School Eagles of Hillsboro, Mo.  John O’Leary ’13 returned a Grandview kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown in the game.  Ivan Quiroz ’14 led the way defensively with two sacks.  Wilson said his team has improved with every game.

“They played their best and most impassioned game of the year so far,” he said.  “The effort and enthusiasm were excellent despite a few execution errors.”

The players were able to recover with their trip to Columbia.  The team had a chance to meet Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, offensive coordinator David Yost, and Missouri athletic director Mike Alden.  They were also given a tour of the athletic facilities at the university, including the academic support center, weight training center, and nutrition center.

For photos of Friday night’s game against Grandview, click this link.  To see photos of the cadets’ trip to Columbia, click here.

Nick Vanatta ’13, Jon Johnston ’14, Chris Nguyen ’13, WR/DB coach Dr. Greg McDonald, Luke Lowry ’14, and D.T. Owens ’15 show their tough sides at the Tigers’ training facility in Columbia.

Gonzalez ’13 Nets Five Goals in Rout of Elsberry

It may be difficult to find a better way to start the season if you are the Missouri Military Academy varsity soccer Colonels, especially for attacking midfielder Jesus Gonzalez ’13.

The squad netted seven second half goals en route to a 9-1 drubbing of the Elsberry Indians Tuesday night at the soccer field.  Man of the match Gonzalez scored five times from his position, and senior striker Francisco De Llano ’13, winger Patricio Herrera ’13, midfielder Jose Estrada ’16, and freshman forward David Gu ’16 also found the back of the net in the game.

Herrera opened up scoring less than ten minutes into the match as he pounded a shot over top of the Elsberry goalkeeper from about 20 yards away.  Gonzalez would add a second goal minutes later on a similar shot.

Midfielder Jesus Gonzalez ’13 watches one of his second half goals trickle into the open net after getting past the Indians’ goalkeeper.  (Photo by Eagle reporter Jacob Taylor ’13)

The Fighting Colonels held a 2-0 lead at halftime, but the Indians cut that lead in half minutes into the second half of play.  MMA quickly quelled any comeback hopes when Gonzalez scored again to restore the two-goal lead.  The team never looked back after adding six more goals for a 9-1 final.

PHOTOS:  See more from the victory over Elsberry here

Gu led the team in assists on the night with five.  The freshman striker earned seven total points in his varsity debut.  Also making his first appearance for MMA was goalkeeper Greg Reding ’15, stopping 10 of 11 Elsberry shots.

The Fighting Colonels’ defense stood tall for virtually the entire game, featuring strong performances from center back Jacob Priester ’14 and sweeper Fernando Estrada ’14.

But Gonzalez provided the performance of the day.

“Jesus’ game play was nothing short of what a captain should and that is to lead by example,” head coach CPT Eric Reynolds said.  “He passed and pushed his body to the limits to lead his team.”

Reynolds said he was very pleased with not only Gonzalez’s performance, but even more so with job his team did as a whole.

“The win was an overall team effort, every player had a direct role in the win,” he said.  “The Elsberry players even complimented us on how good our sportsmanship and conduct was.”

The team heads back to practice for the remainder of the week before a crosstown matchup with rival Mexico Monday night.

Center back Jacob Priester ’14 (left) pitches in to help David Gu ’16 (right) on offense in Tuesday’s season opener against Elsberry.  (Photo by Jacob Taylor ’13)

Athletics Recap, August 24-September 10

Here’s a roundup of Missouri Military Academy‘s fall athletics from August 24-September 10:


The 2012 season began with a few rough patches for the varsity football Fighting Colonels.

Despite a 0-3 start, head coach LT Marc Wilson has noticed significant improvement in many of his players.  In the season opener against West Hancock (IL), the Colonels succumbed to a fast start by their opponent.  West Hancock capitalized on several Colonels’ turnovers.  But the team was without many of its offensive and defensive starters due to ineligibility.  Players in Missouri must participate in a certain number of practices before they can take the field.

The team returned several players after gaining that eligibility Friday, August 31.  The Fighting Colonels went on the road for the first time this season, and brought the remnants of Hurricane Isaac with them to Van-Far.  In what turned out to be a very wet and sloppy game, the Colonels held their own in the first half, trailing 18-6.  But fatigue set in and weather conditions did not improve as the Colonels let the second half get away from them.  The team fell to 0-2 on the season and awaited Winfield in their second home game of the season.

The Colonels defense lines up for the snap against West Hancock Friday, August 24. (Photo by Eagle reporter Jacob Taylor ’13)

All of MMA’s players gained eligibility in time for the Winfield game, which turned out to be another defensive struggle for the Colonels.  Turnovers were an issue in this game, allowing a short field for the Winfield offense.  Wilson said after the game that center Juan Carlos Aguirre ’16 and senior wide receiver John O’Leary ’13 both showed outstanding performances.  He added that those two, along with defensive end Ivan Quiroz ’14 showed great improvement and could benefit from more playing time.  The Fighting Colonels are back in action this Friday night at home against Grandview (Hillsboro, Mo.).

Athletic Director LT John Noel added that seven middle school students have also been on the football field this fall, as they are teaming up with Mexico Public Schools to be a part of Mexico’s team.  Tajae Blue ’17, Sean Fitzgreald ’17, Juan Leal ’18, Lucas Moore ’18, Charles Norman ’18, Dakota Prewitt ’17, and Carlos Ramos ’17 will suit up for games with the squad this season.


MMA’s cross country team has returned after a one-year absence.  The Colonels runners participated in the Linn Invitational Saturday, September 8 against 15 other mid-Missouri schools.  The team’s average time for the 5K race was 23:10.  MMA’s top performers included Cyrus Coble ’15, who finished in 21:34, and Dallas Lopez ’14 completed his race in 21:58.

“Many of our runners are new to the sport this year,” head coach MAJ Lawrence McClarey said.  “For them it was their first taste of competitive racing. We are excited to get back to practice and prepare for Saturday.”

The Colonels will run next at the Fulton Invitational September 15 at Fulton High School.


The Fighting Colonels head to the pitch Tuesday for their first soccer match of the season.  The squad kicks off 2012 against Elsberry at 5:00 p.m.  A couple of new faces have taken the reigns this year as coaches.  LT Eric Reynolds and LT Christopher Bain are the team’s head coach and assistant, respectively.  MMA returns eight players from last year’s team, who finished with a 10-3 record in 2011.  The Corps of Cadets will enjoy a cookout for tomorrow’s game, but will also pause for a moment of remembrance before the game begins in honor of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

New Colonels goalkeeper Greg Reding ’15 looks on as the squad practices a drill.  MMA comes off a 10-3 record in 2011.

Vanatta ’13 Selected for Football All-Star Game

A Missouri Military Academy senior football player is set to represent his school at a high-level all-star game this winter.

Nick Vanatta ’13 of Monkey Island, Okla. will sport his Colonels gear January 1, 2013 at the Offense-Defense (O-D) All-American Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Head coach LT Marc Wilson suggested Vanatta attend a football camp during this year’s summer break, and ultimately decided on an O-D camp taking place at Cowboys Stadium in June.  The four-day camp brought about 180 young men from all over the United States.

“The camp was rugged, tough, and long,” Vanatta said. “But it was a ton of fun.”

Wilson said there are 46 O-D camps in the U.S., and this particular camp was coordinated by former Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Bates.  With his assistance, camp directors would choose 200 of the 800 to participate in an Elite Camp, held in four locations in the U.S.

“We did a lot of drills during this camp,” Vanatta said. “It wasn’t full contact, but we learned and ran a lot of different plays.”

Vanatta worked hard during that camp to be one of the 200 selected to one of the four Elite Camps.  He traveled to Denton High School in Denton, Texas for the Elite Camp July 21-22.  The two-day camp consisted of 36 athletes.

However, there was one more camp Vanatta had a chance to attend – the O-D All-American Bowl – but that game is reserved for selected players who were “all-stars” of the previous camps.  Wilson received word from O-D officials this week that Vanatta was one of the players chosen to go to Cowboys Stadium for the O-D All-American Bowl.

The game has featured NFL talent such as Dez Bryant, Cam Newton, and Rolando McClain.

Vanatta will represent MMA January 1 along with other outstanding players from across the country.

2012 Spring Sports Banquet

Missouri Military Academy honored its spring sports teams at a special banquet on campus.  MMA’s baseball, tennis, track and field, golf, Raiders, and Middle School track teams convened in Barnard Hall for Friday night’s dinner.  Athletic Director LT John Noel began the night with a few comments recapping the season, including MMA’s unprecedented season sweep over Wentworth Military Academy in all competitive events in 2011-2012.

Coaches of their respective sports recognized players who contributed the most on the field and on the track this spring.  Most Valuable Player, Best Sportsmanship, and Most Improved Player were just some of the honors bestowed on the athletes.  Varsity athletes were also given their letters.

Noel also presented the yearly awards to the most outstanding athletic cadets.

Photos from Friday night’s banquet can be seen by clicking here.

LT Noel presents Santiago Bou ’12 with the Most Valuable Player award for golf.

Middle School Track Finishes 2012 Season

It was a year of widespread improvement for the Missouri Military Academy Middle School track team.  LTC Willis Kleinsorge led the squad that competed in three meets this spring – at Centralia, at Mexico, and at Moberly.

Kleinsorge says the middle school athletes made impressive strides in a number of events.  David Gu ’16 brought home a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the Centralia meet, and improved upon his time in each meet.

Jason Russell ’16 also earned a silver medal for his performance in the 800-meter run in the Centralia meet.  Russell also improved his personal best time by almost 30 seconds in the 1600-meter run at Moberly.

Byron Amidon ’16 prepares to hand off the baton to Jack Moore ’16 in the 4×100 relay event.

As for group events, the relay team of Byron Amidon ’16, Jack Moore ’16, Gu,and Rafael Lozano ’17 sprinted to a gold medal finish in the 4 X 100-meter event at Centralia.

In field events, Amidon also earned a medal for his throw in the shot put event.  His heave traveled 36 feet and 10 inches, good for a silver medal.

Overall, Kleinsorge says the middle school track team learned a lot during the spring season.  The cadets participated in a number of track and field events, perhaps preparing them for a future as a part of the MMA track team.

The team did not win any of the meets in which they participated, but Kleinsorge says the season was an excellent learning experience for his squad.

Tennis Colonels Bow Out of Districts, Individual Competition Still Ahead

Missouri Military Academy’s varsity tennis team has commenced its quest for a state title.  Unfortunately the Colonels will not participate in the state tournament as a team after Tuesday’s loss to Fulton.

There are two state tournaments for tennis – one for teams and one for individual players.

The Colonels began the team tournament by defeating Mexico High School in the first round of the state team tennis tournament, 5-2.  Top seed Alejandro Macias ’12 won in straight sets (6-0, 6-0) as did #2 seed Alan Avila ’14 and #3 seed Santiago Bou ’12.  Senior Landon Smalley ’12 also scored a win against the Bulldogs.  In the team’s only doubles match, Macias/Avila took the match, 6-3, 6-2.

Head coach MAJ Mike Pemberton says he was impressed with the team’s play Monday, noting how difficult it can be to play a team three times in one season.

Pemberton added that he was impressed with Smalley’s play against Mexico.

“After losing a close first set, he was able to bounce back and win his next two matches,” Pemberton said.

Monday’s win insured a spot in the district team semifinals at Fulton.  Another frequent opponent of the Colonels, Fulton had all the answers Tuesday, taking the semifinal, 6-3.

Macias was not as smooth against Fulton, but was still victorious after dropping his first set, 2-6.  He battled back and secured the final two sets, 6-3 and 6-4.  Macias paired up with Avila again for the semifinal, defeating their opponent 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Bou saw a similar fate Tuesday, losing his first set (4-6) but coming back strong to take the last two, 6-2 and 6-1.

Pemberton said one part of the team’s game hurt them the most.

“We got off to a slow start and had trouble with our serves,” he said.  “We are going to take a look at that the next few days and improve before the individual tournament.”

The district tournament for individual players begins Saturday, May 12 in Hannibal, Mo. with times to be announced later in the week.