One of Class 4’s top teams, the Trojans ended up fourth out of 19 teams with 261½ points and finished behind Francis Howell Central (350½), Seckman (277) and Lafayette (Wildwood) (276½) — all potential threats to wrest the team title away from them this year at state. The two-time defending state champions have spent much of the season without two-time individual champion Sean Hosford, possibly out for the season with a broken leg, while enduring various injuries.
Weston DiBlasi, Emmerson Gardener and Anthony Enriquez all ended up out by the end of the week, while Canten Marriott missed more time, unable to go at Winnetonka due to the flu.
“We’re being patient,” Park Hill coach Jeff Davis said. “We’re being real, real patient. We don’t push them back before they’re ready. We had a bunch of guys out earlier in the season. We’ve had a lot of injuries. We’ve had a lot of sickness. It’s been a trying year. We’ve yet to have our best lineup a single time this season. As long as we’re ready by districts, I’ll feel good about it.”
Ranked No. 7 at 126 pounds according to showmewrestling.com, DiBlasi did not wrestle all week due to sickness, leaving Park Hill open at that weight at Winnetonka. Gardener scored impressive wins against a pair of ranked foes earlier in the week but came up injured in his second match of the weekend tournament and defaulted out.
Enriquez sprained his ankle in the third-place match and forfeited, but Davis said he likely could have finished and shouldn’t miss much if any time.
Even with all of the issues, Park Hill ended up with a pair of champions — Ke-Shawn Hayes (138) and Colston DiBlasi (170) — and six top-four finishers in a tournament that routinely serves as a mini state preview. The Trojans only had two finalists after Kelvin Eblen (106), Ethan Koan (120) and Enriquez all suffered tight losses to top-ranked foes in the semis.
“I think we wrestled smart matches,” Davis said. “I’m pleased with the way the boys are performing… I think we wrestled well. We had a good tournament. It would be nice to be 100 percent. We’re not right now. We’re doing the best we can with the guys we have. Hopefully, we’ll get everyone healthy soon.”
A two-time state champion signed to Ohio State, Hayes (27-0) breezed through most of the tournament and won a 4-0 decision against Lafayette’s Tim Bogar — ranked No. 4 — in the final. Colston DiBlasi took a similar path and improved to 34-2 after a 2-0 win against Zach Elam of Staley in the final with the only points on a second-period reversal.
Elam is ranked No. 8 at 170.
“I’ve got to get kids to wrestle me,” said DiBlasi, also a two-time state champion headed to Iowa State next year. “It’s hard for me to do anything when they don’t. They literally just laid there. So it’s hard for me to work on my offense. I’ve got to get offense from the get-go and break his will. It just tells me that there are guys that aren’t going to wrestle; they’re not going to do anything; just trying to keep it close. In those matches, I have to keep my composure do right things right and if I win a close match, a win’s a win.”
Eblen continued to impress and lost a 7-6 decision to Seckman’s Cameron Fusco. Eblen tied the score at 6 with a reversal in the third period, but Fusco later scored the winning escape. Eureka’s Kyran Hagan stayed unbeaten on the way to the 120 title, using a second-period takedown to build a 3-0 lead on the way to a 3-1 semifinal win against Koan (28-4).
Enriquez, 27-7 and at No. 6 in the rankings, lost 7-5 in the first overtime against Caleb Gosset of Francis Howell Central. Enriquez went ahead 4-0 on a reversal early in the third period, but Gosset outscored him 5-1 in the period’s remainder, including a pair of takedowns, to force the extra period.
Sent to the third-place match, Enriquez injury defaulted after the ankle injury to Winnetonka’s Brandon Zoeller. Hunter Roberts also placed fourth for Park Hill after losing two of his final three matches at 126.
Ranked No. 7, he did beat Lafayette’s sixth-ranked Alec Reid in the consolation semifinal to advance to third-place match.
Eureka’s Alec Hagan (No. 2, semifinal) and Francis Howell Central’s Jacob Gajewski (No. 4, third-place match) beat Roberts.
Park Hill South, set to travel for a dual with the Trojans on Tuesday, Jan. 27, finished 16th. Dylen Propes recorded the best spot on the podium with a fifth-place showing at 170.
Currently unranked, Propes lost 3-2 in overtime against Elam in the semifinals and then lost a 6-4 decision to Francis Howell Central’s Zach Litzinger in the consolation semifinals before recovering to win his final match.
“It just makes me want to run harder and work harder in practice,” Propes said. “It makes me want to beat those kids even more which kind of gives me a mental advantage going into the next time I wrestle those guys.
“Especially since the matches were so close. The difference between me getting second place and fifth place was one point.”
Park Hill 51, Liberty 15
The Trojans took advantage of five opens and dominated one of two duals on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Liberty’s Parker Houck won an 8-1 decision at 126 in the opener against Jeremiah Brown, filling in for Weston DiBlasi, but the Blue Jays won only three more matches, including a forfeit from Park Hill at 106.
Zach Suppes (152) and Gardener (220) also scored important decisions for the Trojans, while Enriquez lost a 7-5 decision to Zane Shaddox — a loss he avenged on the way to fourth at Winnetonka.
Suppes outscored Chance Thompson 7-3 in the third period to win a 15-10 decision. The final three points came from a near-fall situation near the end of the match to stretch out the margin of victory.
Gardener scored a third-period reversal to win 4-2 against Keyen Braughton, a senior and three-time state qualifier, two-time medalist and 2012 state finalist at 220.
Park Hill 45, Raymore-Peculiar 22
Gardener highlighted the Trojans’ other victory with a 9-5 decision against Dakota Cornelius, ranked No. 8 at 220. Gardener used two first-period takedowns to take an early 4-1 lead on the way to a 9-5 decision.
Park Hill’s Josh Steele lost a 7-1 decision to fifth-ranked Miles Robinson at 113 — one of four victories for Raymore-Peculiar.
Park Hill South 44, St. Joseph Central 27
The Panthers won a second straight dual and improved to 3-8 overall with the victory on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Gage Morrow (106) and Ring Deng (195) won tight decisions, while Carter Thomas won a 14-0 major decision at 120 for critical victories. There were no ranked wrestlers for either team.