In a rare matchup of nationally ranked teams from bordering districts, the Trojans won nine of 14 matches, including five straight, to lock up a 37-25 victory Thursday, Jan. 14 at Park Hill High School. The dual started at 145 pounds with a matchup of two-time state champions that ended with Park Hill’s Sean Hosford forced to injury default after being choked unconscious in the second period.
Platte County led for much of the first half of the dual in front of a packed crowd told to move back on more than one occasion for encroaching on the mat.
Park Hill sophomore Kelvin Eblen changed the dynamic with his second period pin in a 106-pound match that featured Missouri’s top two competitors in that weight. Weston DiBlasi – another sophomore for the Trojans – completed the turnaround and mathematically clinched the win with a pin at 126.
“We always knew Sean was the kind of guy that would rather get choked out than give up any points for the team,” said DiBlasi, state ranked in Class 4 according to missouriwrestling.com and a state medalist a year ago on the Trojans’ third straight state championship team. “We kind of saw that and we recognized the fact he’d rather die than give up any team points. It was really just more fuel to keep us going.”
The first four matches of the dual featured five previous state champions with seven titles combined. In all, there were 12 previous state qualifiers – nine of them medalists – in addition to a group of talented freshmen.
Park Hill entered ranked No. 44 in the nation according to InterMat Wrestling, while the Pirates were No. 29. Both teams have endured a grueling early schedule, and this matchup only added to that.
“I’ve got to be honest: our kids fought hard,” Park Hill coach Jeff Davis said. “They’ve been talking about coming together as a team, and the boys have been doing that. Everybody did their job. We didn’t give up some pins, I think where there could’ve been and kept it close.
“It made it an entertaining environment. It was awesome.”
Park Hill scored a crucial win at 182 when TJ Hullaby held on to decision Platte County’s Tyler Blankenship, a 2015 state qualifier, by a score of 5-3 to give the Trojans their first lead at 11-10.
However, the Pirates took momentum back in the next match. Park Hill’s TJ Sobbing and Platte County’s Sage Smart were tied at 0-0 in the waning seconds of regulation at 195 when Smart managed to not only turn Sobbing to his back but score the pin with 6 seconds to go.
In last year’s dual between the two teams, Smart – wrestling up at least two weight classes – nearly scored an upset of Park Hill’s Anthony Enriquez in a 285 match. The Trojans went on to win the match and that dual.
“The win from Sage gave us great momentum,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “Last year, he couldn’t have rode anyone out, but he’s getting better.”
At 220, Casey Jumps won a 13-6 decision to increase the lead for Platte County to 19-11 with seven matches to go.
Park Hill would win the next five in a row, starting with Landon Brown’s 5-1 decision over Matthew Knopp at 285. Eblen then faced off with Cody Phippen in a key rematch at 106 featuring top-ranked wrestlers.
No. 1 in Class 3, Phippen won a 4-1 decision in their championship bout of the Kansas City Stampede in December. He led 2-0 after the first period but engaged in a risky maneuver during a scramble at the edge of the mat in the second that ended up with him on his back.
No. 1 in Class 4, Eblen scored the pin at 3:10 -- the last of the back-and-forth results to draw a spontaneously raucous reaction from teammates and the home crowd. Park Hill led 20-19 at that point and didn’t trail again.
“We don’t get this kind of turnout a lot, but when we need them here, they show up,” DiBlasi said. “It’s a great feeling going out there in the spotlight with hundreds cheering you on.”
Park Hill sophomore Josh Steele (113, 9-1 major decision), freshman Austin Kolvek (120, 12-4 major decision) and DiBlasi (pin of Class 3 state qualifier Trey Dockery in 3:30) built the Trojans’ lead to an insurmountable 34-19 with two matches to go.
Platte County’s Matthew Schmitt, a two-time state champion, won at 132 by fall, but Park Hill freshman Blake Hopson closed the dual with a 6-0 decision over Jaron Hoegler. Had earlier results gone differently, Burress would’ve considered bumping Dockery and Schmitt up in an effort to win the dual, but the opportunity didn’t materialize.
“That was the goal at the end. We didn’t get to that,” Burress said.
The opener provided another critical rematch.
Platte County’s Karsten used a last-second takedown to beat Hosford on the way to a Stampede title in the first matchup, and the second meeting appeared headed for another competitive finish. Karsten took a 2-1 lead after the first period, managing to scramble away from two near takedowns before scoring one of his own. On bottom to start the second period, he reversed Hosford to his back out of an awkward position, choking him unconscious just prior to sending him to his back.
The action stopped while medical personnel attended to Hosford, who was unable to continue resulting in a medical forfeit. That gave Platte County a huge 6-0 advantage with a state champion in each of the next three matches as well, two of them for Park Hill.
Thomas Lisher, a junior state champion transfer from Baldwin (Kan.) who missed most of the season with injury, scored a late takedown to earn a 12-4 major decision for Park Hill at 152. Johnny Blankenship, a 2014 state champion for Platte County, also scored late to win an 8-0 major decision against Devin Winston, a promising freshman for the Trojans at 160. At 170, Canten Marriott, a nationally ranked senior and defending state champion for Park Hill, used three takedowns and a stalling penalty in the third period to beat Dakota Schmidt in a 11-3 major decision.
That gave Platte County a 10-8 advantage with a long wait before reaching Schmitt, the only remaining state champion in the lineup. By the time the dual reached him, Park Hill had done enough to secure the win, closing with wins in seven of the final nine matches.
Platte County 49, Belton 20
Most of the potential matchups between ranked foes didn’t materialize Tuesday, Jan. 12 in Belton, Mo. with multiple wrestlers moving weights our out of the lineup.
Platte County went 8-5 in head-to-head matchups along with one forfeit to improve to 2-0 in Suburban Conference Blue Division competition. Phippen did score an 11-0 major decision at 106 over No. 4-ranked Braden Bradley.
Jake Stahopoulous (113), Schmitt (132), Karsten (145), Johnny Blankenship (160), Schmitt (170), and Knopp (285) all scored wins by fall for the Pirates.
Liberty North triangular
Park Hill went 27-1 in dual wins against Ruskin (81-0) and Liberty North (69-6) on Tuesday, Jan. 12 in Liberty, Mo.
Coming off a loss by disqualification in his season debut, Lisher picked up his first two wins of the season with a 17-second pin of Ruskin’s LeRoy McGinnis and a 13-0 major decision against Liberty North’s Levi Anderson. Lisher missed the first half of the season due to injury.
Starting with Lisher’s major decision, Park Hill won the first five matches against the Eagles, including a pair of forfeits. The lone win for them came at 285 from second-ranked Dede Richardson. Against Ruskin, Park Hill received five forfeits and won five matches by fall.
Park Hill South 42, Truman 39
Only four head-to-head matches were wrestled Tuesday, Jan. 12 in Independence, Mo., split between the two teams.
However, the forfeits were in favor of Park Hill South, which came back to win the dual. The Panthers trailed 39-30 going into the 145 matchup, which Truman forfeited. Kevin Nollett won the 152 match by injury default, turning a three-point deficit into a three-point win.
Travis Fisher was the other winner for Park Hill South, scoring a second period pin against Hector Navarrete in the 195 match.
West Platte went 1-1 in duals Tuesday, Jan. 12 in Riverside, Kan., beating North Andrew for a second time but losing to the host Cyclones.
Against North Andrew, West Platte won all four head-to-head matchups but gave up five forfeits to account for all the Cardinals points in the Bluejays’ 36-30 win. Justin Rhodes (152) and Mitch Moppin (182) scored pins for West Platte while, Michael Devers won a 7-5 decision against Johnathan Chittum at 195 and Cameron Johnson prevailed in an 8-2 decision against Wayland Walker at 285.
Riverside won two of three head-to-head matches against the Bluejays to win 33-30.
Each team collected 24 points from forfeits, but Rhodes’ pin at 152 ended up as West Platte’s only head-to-head win. Riverside’s Donovan Duncan won an 8-5 decision at 195 for the deciding points.
West Platte quad
The Bluejays went 0-3 in duals, including a second defeat to Riverside, Kan. in three days. In a 42-33 loss to Maysville, West Platte actually won four of five head-to-head matchups but lost out due to five forfeits. Larison (195), Johnson (220) and Noah Conway (145) all won by fall, while Mopping scored an 8-4 decision against Jacob Post at 182.
Against Riverside, Devers wrestled at 195 and beat Duncan to reverse one of the results from the matchup two nights earlier. West Platte also won two of the three matches but again lost 33-30 due to open spots in the lineup.
West Platte won three of five matches in a 42-30 loss to Stanberry. Rhodes (152), Moppin (182) and Larison (195) were all winners by fall.