Six Pirates bring home hardware

It wasn’t quite David vs. Goliath, but it was close. When Platte County sophomore Ethan Karsten took the mat for the Class 3 132-pound championship match last Saturday night at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, he paced back and forth, his head down. He didn’t need to look across the mat to know who he was facing: Oak Park senior Noah Teaney. Teaney came into the match 42-1 and was trying to become just the 23rd four-time champion in the 83-year history of the MSHSAA State Championships. Most of the fans in the stands knew Teaney and anticipated witnessing a piece of state wrestling history. Not many outside the Platte County contingent gave Karsten much of a chance. But Karsten didn’t buy into the notion he wasn’t supposed to win. He knew he could beat Teaney and in fact had done it before when he handed the Oak Park standout a rare defeat in the district semifinals last year. Karsten did it again, notching a 4-2 victory in overtime that had Mizzou Arena roaring not for the favorite, but the underdog. He did it with an aggressive plan that had Teaney on his heels for much of the match. “I came into the match with nothing to lose; everybody thought he (Teaney) was going to win,” Karsten said. “So, I just stuck with the plan and went after him. It’s an unbelievable feeling.” Teaney looked like he had the momentum going into the final period when he scored a two-point reversal to tie the match with 10 seconds to go in regulation. But Karsten regrouped and quickly got the match-winning takedown in the first overtime period. “I just had to reset my mind and take my shot,” said Karsten, who finished the season 44-12. Platte County coach Reggie Burress wasn’t surprised Karsten answered the challenge. “Ethan thinks he can beat anybody and in his mind he knew he could do it,” Burress said. “It was a great win for him and a great win for Platte County wrestling.” Karsten’s win helped Platte County to a fifth place showing in the Class 3 team standings with 110.5 points. Neosho won the team championship with 218 points. The Pirates, who came to Columbia with seven wrestlers, left with six medalists and three individual state champions. In addition to Karsten, sophomore Matthew Schmitt won the state title at 106 pounds and sophomore Johnny Blankenship won the 145-pound championship. Junior Caleb Crabtree took second place at 138 pounds, senior Matthew Barmann finished fifth at 113 and junior Adam Muehlebach took sixth at 182. Burress, who was at the Pirates helm at the state meet for the first time after 17 seasons as an assistant coach, said he was extremely proud of his team. “We couldn’t have asked for anything more from our kids,” he said. “They wrestled hard from the first minute to the last, from start to finish.” Schmitt began the finals round for Platte County by making quick work of Staley freshman David Berryman on his way to an 11-5 win. Schmitt, who improved to 54-1 with the win, was upset immediately after the match because he did not pin Berryman, thereby earning the Pirates bonus team points. At the time, Platte County was just a few points out of fourth place and a team trophy. “We really needed those points; I thought I had him pinned,” Schmitt said of a near fall early in the match. When he was reminded that he was a state champion after finishing second last year, Schmitt acknowledged that it felt good. “Last year, I was in this spot and didn’t get it done, so it feels great to be a champion,” he said. Burress said the match was a typical Schmitt performance. “He has dominated everyone all year and he did it again at state,” he said. Schmitt scored a technical fall over Westminister Christian Academy’s Aaron Gion in the first round, pinned Neosho’s Dalton Kivett in 45 second in the quarterfinals and beat Fort Zumwalt North’s Shaun Beeman in the semifinals.