Top-down success leads Platte County wrestling to 2nd straight home tournament title

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County junior Casey Jumps works an arm bar on Belton’s Dalton Crum during a 220-pound match in the Platte County Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Platte County High School in Platte City. Platte County junior Casey Jumps and sophomore Sage Smart started a small side bet trying to decide who would win a tournament title first.

The answer didn’t end up being so simple. Due to the flow of matches, Jumps finished off his 220-pound championship with a dominant 6-2 decision in the 220-pound final just minutes before Smart won the 195 pool with a controversial 2-0 decision against an opponent who pinned him earlier in the season.

Regardless, the duo claimed two of six individual titles for the Pirates who won the Platte County Invitational for a second straight season, finishing with 386 points Saturday, Jan. 23 at Platte County High School.

After a brutal early season schedule, Platte County finally topped a tournament field while experiencing success from top to bottom in the lineup. Now, the Pirates want the confidence to carry over to this weekend’s Blue Springs South Tournament and on into the postseason where they hope to claim their first Class 3 Missouri State Wrestling Championships team title and the eighth state championship overall for the program.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County sophomore Dakota Schmidt, left, tries to finish a takedown on Carthage’s Kale Vogt in a 170-pound match during the Platte County Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Platte County High School in Platte City.

“As a team, we’re ready to start rolling,” said Jumps, who improved to 25-7 coming off a state qualifying season a year ago. “We have one more tournament and then districts and state, and we’re planning to win all three of them.

“These few losses we’re taking early in the season are only making us better to make a run at a state title.”

Platte County entered the tournament minus 113-pounder Jake Stathopoulos (back) and 120-pounder Austin Kincaid (head) and then lost 126-pound senior Trey Dockery to a knee injury after he started 2-1 in the straight round robin format.

No matter. Platte County ended up with nine medals total — up from eight last year — and easily finished first out of eight teams in the standings of the 43rd Platte County Invitational, wrestled in a straight round robin format for the first time after two teams backed out late in the season.

Jumps ended up with only three matches and dominated all of them, even his 6-2 decision against Belton’s Dalton Crum.

Shortly after, Smart faced off against Brendon Wheeler of Skutt Catholic (Neb.) in a rematch from the Gardner-Edgerton Invitational in December. The two remained scoreless until late in the third period when the official called Wheeler for two stalling warnings in a span of less than 30 seconds, the second giving Smart a 1-0 lead with 5 seconds remaining.

Wheeler granted him an escape and couldn’t score a tying takedown, giving Smart the win and adding to his fifth-place finish last week in the Bobcat Classic when he lost to the No. 1 seed in the opening round and went 5-1 the rest of the way.

“We worked really hard to prepare for this high school season,” Jumps said, talking about his frequent practice partner. “Obviously, we weren’t where we wanted to be last year. Neither of us were so the work we put in this summer, I think we’re finally starting to see it pay off.”

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County senior Johnny Blankenship, top, turns Caleb Archer of Carthage in a 160-pound matchup during the Platte County Invitational.

Platte County’s four returning state finalists were the other champions.

Matthew Schmitt, a senior and three-time state finalist and two-time champion, continued his unbeaten season with a 132 title, and he earned most outstanding wrestler honors for a second straight week. He scored one 17-2 technical fall and six first-period pins, including a 58-second victory against Oak Grove’s Shawn Kavadas — a Class 2 state champion a year ago.

Despite the recent accolades, Schmitt still doesn’t worry about his unbeaten record and any pressure that might come with trying to finish out one of the best individual seasons and careers in the program’s illustrious history.

“I don’t think about undefeated seasons,” Schmitt said. “At this point, I’ve got three tournaments left so it’s kind of hitting me. But I’ve done this for what 14 years now? This is my job. I just have to go out and do my job.”

Ethan Karsten, another two-time state champion, went unbeaten at 145 but dealt with a bit more adversity. He rolled to his first five wins by fall but survived a knock to his right knee in the second period of his last match against Kirksville’s Tanner Sparks, holding on for an uncomfortable 5-1 decision.

Platte County’s Cody Phippen (106) and Johnny Blankenship (160) also dealt with adversity in terms of a solid pool of talent.

A 2015 state runner-up for Basehor-Linwood (Kan.), Phippen won a 3-0 decision against Belton’s Braden Bradley in his first match of the weekend and went on to pin Max Roark of Seneca and Dalen Moore of Carthage before winning a 14-2 major decision against Oak Grove’s Tucker MacWilliam in his last match. All four of those opponents had a winning record.

Blankenship won his first tournament of the season after losing in the finals of both the Gardner-Edgerton Invitational and Bobcat Classic this season. The two-time state finalist and 2014 state champion signed to Nebraska also placed third at the Kansas City Stampede.

Improving to 29-6, Blankenship battled through a 3-2 decision against Belton’s Jacob Benson on Friday before pinning his final four opponents, needing just 44 seconds to pin second-seeded Tristan Stack of Oak Grove in his finale.

“It’s fun getting good competition with our schedule being so tough,” Blankenship said. “We embrace it. It allows us to peak at the right time. We just listen to our coaches, and the results come. You’ve just got to go out there and get the win.”

In Saturday’s final three rounds, Platte County lost just one match in the upper weights. Dakota Schmidt (170) went 5-2 overall to finish third, while Tyler Blankenship (182) lost his first match to top-seeded Colton Gillespie of Kirksville before winning the next five to place second. Tyler Blankenship, a 2015 state qualifier, improved to 11-10 on the season, having just returned to action earlier this month after being sidelined since November with a broken foot suffered in football season.

Matthew Knopp rounded out the medalists for the Pirates, placing third at 285 for his first tournament medal.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County senior Tyler Blankenship, top, pins Jordan Bailey of Seneca in a 182-pound matchup during the Platte County Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Platte County High School in Platte City.

Winnetonka Invitational

Minus three regulars to start the weekend, Park Hill lost another to injury this past weekend while finishing third in the team standings at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo.

The Trojans ended up with 326 points and were behind both Staley and team champion Lafayette (Wildwood). They were 64½ points out of the top spot despite being without 2015 state medalist Kelvin Eblen (106)and freshmen Austin Kolvek (120) and Blake Hopson (138) and losing sophomore state qualifier Josh Steele prior to the championship bracket matches.

Steele defaulted out of his 113 quarterfinal and two consolation matches to finish eighth.

Park Hill did end up with a trio of champions and seven top-five finishers. Sean Hosford, a senior and two-time state champion, won his first tournament championship of the season at 145, beating Blue Springs’ Bret Heil 3-0 in the semifinals and sixth-ranked Alex Wier of Lafayette 7-4 in the final.

Hosford entered ranked No. 4 according to after not placing at state last season, missing most of the year with a broken leg.

“It feels really good,” Hosford said. “I’m still getting back to normal. My best friend Canten (Marriott) and the rest of the team have been pushing me, and it’s feeling good. We’re scrappers; we’ll always fight. We had four starters out, and we’ll still finish third. We just keep pushing, and we’ll come at you.”

Devin Winston (160) and Marriott (170) were also champions again after winning at the Capital City Invitational the previous week. Now ranked No. 3 after last week’s performance, Winston beat Lafayette’s Austin Stofer 8-3 in the 160 championship match to improve to 31-6. Marriott upped his record to 34-1 — the lone loss in the Kansas City Stampede final back in December — winning his final three championship bracket matches by technical fall.

Thomas Lisher (third, 152), Weston DiBlasi (fourth, 126), TJ Hullaby (fourth, 126) and Jacob Sobbing (fifth, 195) also won medals for the Trojans. A 2015 state medalist, DiBlasi won his three pool matches with first period pins, but he lost to Lafayette’s Jordan Carson in the quarterfinals with DiBlasi unable to escape in the ultimate tiebreaker period with the score tied 2-2.

The two met up again in the third-place match with Carson (29-12) winning a 6-3 decision, dropping DiBlasi to 33-3 on the year with his first losses since the quarterfinals of Stampede against Platte County’s Schmitt.

A 2015 state champion at Baldwin (Kan.), Lisher’s loss came to Charles Genisio of Staley in the 152 semifinals. Genisio ranks No. 2 in the most recent 160 rankings while Lisher, who missed the start of the season due to injury, is No. 4 at 152.

Lathrop Invitational

Justin Rhodes avenged his only loss of the season, beating South Harrison’s Mason Doll in a 3-1 decision in the 152 championship Saturday, Jan. 23 in Lathrop, Mo. Doll won 6-3 in the previous meeting during the finals of the Plattsburg Invitational.

Rhodes went 3-0 to reach the final and won the only title for West Platte, which scored 71 points to finish 13th out of 17 teams.

Michael Devers went 2-1 in his 195 pool for West Platte to reach the championship bracket, but a 3-2 loss to Lathrop’s Luke Douglas sent him to the third-place match. Devers beat Truman’s Hector Navarrete in a 6-3 decision to win the Bluejays’ other medal.

Jake Williams (126) and Parker Rotterman (145) — both North Platte students competing for Mid-Buchanan also recorded top-four finishes. Williams went 3-0 in his pool and beat Carrolton’s Logan Chavez in a 5-4 decision to reach the championship match.

Dylan Wade of team-champion Maysville beat Williams 2-1 to take the title.

Rotterman ended up fourth at 145, going 2-1 in his pool but losing both championship bracket matches.