Schmitt stays unbeaten on way to elite title, leads Platte County to 6th at Cheesehead

Contributed photo Members of the Platte County wrestling team pose with the sixth-place trophy after the Cheesehead Invitational, held this past weekend in Kaukauna, Wisc. The elite tournament featured eight teams in InterMat Wrestling’s top 50 national rankings, including the No. 33 Pirates. Matthew Schmitt added another prestigious title and kept his hopes of an undefeated season intact in another nationally elite tournament this past weekend.

Already a two-time state champion, the Platte County senior won the 126-pound bracket in the Cheesehead Invitational this past weekend in Kaukauna, Wisc. The Pirates participated for the first time and placed sixth in the final team standings, finishing behind five teams ranked nationally by InterMat Wrestling but ahead of two others.

Ranked No. 33, Platte County ended up less than 30 points out of third place with three finalists and four medalists.

Schmitt beat Jacob Silzer of St. Rita of Cascia, a school in Chicago, 1-0 in the final. Schmitt scored the winning escape in the second period and rode out Silzer for the entire third period to preserve the lead and avoid overtime.

Now 21-0 on the season with three tournament titles and ranked No. 7 in the nation, Schmitt won his final four matches by decision but allowed just two points total in those matches. He also beat Yahya Thomas of Mt. Carmel (Ill.) 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Thomas ended up third and helped the No. 21 ranked Caravan win the team title, edging No. 7 Carl Sandburg (Ill.) by 25 points.

Cody Phippen (106) and Ethan Karsten (145) also reached the finals but suffered their first losses of the season to nationally ranked foes in the finals.

The top seed in a tough bracket, Phippen avoided facing a nationally ranked wrestler until the final. He lost 7-0 to No. 16 Patrick McKee of St. Michael’s-Albertsville (Minn.). Phippen is now 20-1 on the season.

Karsten ended up in the featured final, facing off against junior two-time state champion of Austin O’Connor of St. Cascia, ranked No. 3 in the nation. O’Connor took a 2-0 lead after the first period and ended up scoring his fifth pin of the tournament in 2 minutes, 48 seconds after Karsten went to his back after a failed attempt at a throw.

Now 21-1 on the season, Karsten entered ranked No. 14 in the nation and used three pins and a technical fall to reach the semifinals. He beat Shayne Oster of Lockport (Ill.) — a Class 3A state champion last year at 138 — with an 8-6 decision to earn the matchup with O’Connor.

Casey Jumps, a junior, earned Platte County’s fourth medal with a fifth-place finish at 220. He ended up wrestling a pair of rematches, losing twice to Diata Drayton of Marist (Ill.) while coming back to Leo Ortiz of Mount Carmel in the fifth-place match.

Jumps lost to Drayton in overtime to finish out pool play then lost 6-5 to Ortiz in the quarterfinals. He came back with an overtime win before losing to Drayton again and then beating Ortiz in by one point in overtime.

Austin Kincaid (120), Johnny Blankenship (160), Dakota Schmidt (170) and Sage Smart (195) all reached the championship match but lost their next two matches to miss out on the medals.

Blankenship lost to No. 4 Brady Berge of Kasson-Mantorville (Minn.) in the quarterfinals to drop into the backside. Kincaid, Blankenship and Smart all won their seventh-place match, while Schmidt finished eighth.

Tyler Blankenship, a senior, wrestled for the first time this season and went 2-6 at 182 and finished 14th. He missed the beginning of the season with a foot injury suffered during Platte County’s loss to Kearney in the Class 4 District 8 football championship. All six of his losses were by decision, including three byt the score of 3-2.

Mid-Buchanan Invitational

CODY THORN/Special to The Citizen West Platte senior Justin Rhodes, top, won the 152-pound title Saturday, Jan. 9 in the Mid-Buchanan Invitational in Faucett, Mo.

West Platte ended up with four medalists Saturday, Jan. 9 in Faucett, Mo., including two in the same weight class.

The Bluejays were eighth in a field of a 18 that included seven junior varsity squads with 82 points. Justin Rhodes, ranked No. 1 in Class 1 according to at 152, went 6-0 and improved to 16-0 on the season while winning their lone title. He beat Wentworth Military Academy’s Jarek Brown 4-0 in the championship match.

Mitch Moppin also reached the final at 182, but South Harrison’s Austin Ward pinned him in 1:36. Moppin is 17-4 on the season.

At 195, West Platte’s Dalton Larison placed fourth in a round robin pool, going 3-2. His losses included a 11-10 decision for Michael Devers, wrestling for the Bluejays’ JV. He finished ahead of his teammate on the podium after going 3-2 but taking the third place spot via his head-to-head win.

Platte County 63, Park Hill South 15

The Pirates remained unbeaten in duals this season, going 11-3 in a comfortable win Tuesday, Jan. 5 in Riverside, Mo. They were spotted 24 points due to Park Hill South’s four opens.

In the 138 match, Platte County’s Paul Hoegler won a 2-0 decision without an offensive point. Park Hill South’s Andre Anderson was hit for stalling three times, the final two costing him a penalty point each for the only scoring in the match.

Platte County’s other six victories in head-to-head matchups were all by fall.

Schmitt built a 15-2 lead before pinning Park Hill South’s Kaleb Lenhert in just 1:24. Johnny Blankenship (160) and Schmidt (170) also finished their matches in the first period with Schmidt, a sophomore, needing just 30 seconds to stick Kory Seve.

Park Hill South’s Daniel Gray beat Nolan Saale, wrestling in the varsity lineup for the first time this season, in a 4-3 decision. Gray scored three near-fall points in the second period and won with a late escape that broke a tie. Zak Horton (145) and Ring Deng (182) both won by fall for the Panthers with Karsten out of the lineup and Tyler Blankenship yet to make his season debut.