He already had two state championships on his resumé, but there was much work left to be done.
First came the adversity of injury, then came the adversity of sustaining his first loss in more than a year.
A knee injury suffered during his summer training slowed Wilbourn. When he reinjured the knee, he was sidelined for a portion of his senior season.
Although his knee never got back to 100 percent, Wilbourn wrestled on.
“Toward the middle of the season, I sat out but the knee wasn’t getting any better,” Wilbourn said. “Coach said it was time to go whether my knee was ready or not. I had to man up.”
Returning to action, he finally met his match at the Winnetonka Tournament in Kansas City where he lost to Blue Springs senior Keenan Hagerty.
It was a moment he said he could sense coming.
“Coming into my senior year, in my head I didn’t think I’d go undefeated like I did my (junior year),” Wilbourn said. “I knew I’d have a match that I probably wouldn’t win. When I got hurt and my knee started bothering me, I knew that match would come soon.”
After losing to Hagerty, Wilbourn was motivated like never before.
“Maybe that loss was a good thing for him,” Howell Central coach Steve Cross said. “It gave him more motivation to work hard and, when he went down there (to Columbia for the state championships), he was pretty dominant. Hagerty is a top-tier kid, too, a four-time state medalist who won state as a sophomore. That’s a very tough kid to beat.”
Wilbourn sensed his impending – almost inevitable – rematch with Hagerty was in sight.