The Park Hill senior, bound for Iowa State after the season, didn’t need the third period until a grueling championship match at Hale Arena against Daniel Bullard of Archer (Ga.). After scoring pins in his first six matches, DiBlasi scored a first-period takedown and then controlled his fellow two-time state champion opponent and survived for a 4-2 decision despite allowing a reversal late in the third period.
“It was tiring because I was getting matches done quick,” said DiBlasi, a two-time defending Missouri State champion for the Trojans. “It really took a lot out of me, and I had to hang on.”
Park Hill and Platte County both competed in the ninth annual KC Stampede — the toughest high school tournament in the area and one of the best in the country.
Behind four medalists, Platte County finished ninth in the team standings out of a record 40 teams from 11 different states competing this year. Park Hill dipped to 17th as the Trojans continue to deal with a myriad of early-season injuries. They finished with three medals total — DiBlasi’s championship, a sixth-place showing at 285 for Anthony Enriquez and a seventh-place finish at 120 for Weston DiBlasi.
Park Hill continued to be without two-time state champions Ke-Shawn Hayes, injured in practice earlier this month, and Sean Hosford, who broke his left tibia at last week’s prestigious Ironman Tournament in Ohio and could be lost for the year. In addition, Canten Marriott — fourth at 145 in the Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships — has yet to wrestle a match this year.
The next competition for Park Hill is a dual on Jan. 9 vs. Kearney.
“We are beat up, but this is the grind of the season,” Colston DiBlasi said of competing in back-to-back elite tournaments. “After Christmas, our schedule gets a lot easier.”
Platte County totaled 306½ points to help round out the top 10 behind champion Archer, the two-time defending Class AAAAAA state champions in Georgia.
Ethan Karsten, a junior, made the 145 final for Platte County but lost 3-0 to Bettendorf (Iowa)’s Fredy Stroker, a two-time state champion senior signed to wrestle next year at Big 10 powerhouse Minnesota. Stroker became the event’s second four-time champion, scoring a takedown late in the first period to take control.
Now 8-0 on the season and 152-3 in his high school career, Stroker won second-choice outstanding wrestler after joining Park Hill’s Alan Waters as the event’s only four-time champions.
Karsten, ranked No. 18 at 145 to Stroker’s No. 4 according to flowrestling.com, liked his effort and plans to take the performance into another loaded field at the Texas Outlaw Tournament, scheduled for Jan. 2 and 3 in Allen, Texas.
“You know you’re going to lose, take your lumps,” said Karsten, a defending state champion who burst onto the national scene with an upset of three-time state champion Noah Teaney of Oak Park in last year’s state finals. “I’m going to lose in the future. If you’re not, you’re not getting better.”
Platte County’s four returning state finalists unsurprisingly accounted for the four medals.
Matthew Schmitt, a champion at 106 last year, recovered from a 3-2 loss to Codi Russell (Ga.) in the 126 quarterfinals to win three straight and claim fifth by beating Michael Prieto of Garden City (Kan.) in a 3-1 decision in the medal round.
Caleb Crabtree (152) and Johnny Blankenship (160) lost their medal matches like Karsten.
In the seventh-place match, Crabtree scored a late tying takedown against Arkansas City (Kan.)’s Kendall Biddle, who then scored an escape that proved to be the winning point in a 5-4 decision. Crabtree could not find a winning takedown in the final 54 seconds.
Blankenship, a state champion at 145 last year, went to overtime against Neosho’s Isaac Townsend in the fifth-place match. Sixth last year at 132, Townsend helped Neosho — the biggest obstacle this season in Platte County’s chase for a Class 3 team title — finish second in the Stampede team standings.
Park Hill went 2-1 in the medal rounds with Weston DiBlasi scoring an early takedown out of a scramble and holding on for a 4-2 decision against Brandon Bright of Edmond North (Okla.) in the 120 seventh-place match.
After a scoreless first period, Enriquez failed to escape from Smithville’s Jacob Bohlken in the second period of the 285 fifth-place match. Bohlken escaped in the third and then scored a takedown as the final seconds ticked away for a 3-0 decision victory.
Hunter Roberts (126) qualified for the championship bracket and won four straight after a first-round loss to claim ninth for Park Hill. Casey Jumps (220) finished 12th for Platte County.
Battle of Lexington
Justin Rhodes remained unbeaten and claimed the 152 title in a 35-team field this past weekend. The West Platte junior and 2013 state runner-up won a 1-0 decision against Maysville’s Reid Steiner in the championship, helping the Bluejays to a 16th-place team finish.
After going 3-0 in pool wrestling, Rhodes scored pins in his first two matches of the championship bracket but also needed a 4-0 decision against Lawson’s Collin Bradley in the semifinals to complete his championship run.
Aidian Vece went 4-1 in his pool and was West Platte’s only other wrestler to reach the championship quarterfinals. He ended up sixth at 220.
Mitch Moppin (170) and Brayan Rodriguez (120) both placed ninth, while Devin Driskell (113) ended up 10th to round out the Bluejays’ top showings. They don’t wrestle again until the Jan. 10 Mid-Buchanan Invitational.
Lee’s Summit Christmas Invitational
Park Hill South finished 22nd out of 25 teams in the final competition for the Panthers until a Jan. 6 dual with Platte County.
Dylen Propes improved to 14-7 on the season and won their only medal. He won all four pool matches and advanced to the championship at 170 before losing a 10-2 major decision against Rock Bridge’s Graham Ratermann.