The Pirates finished the Class 3 District 4 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 14 with 10 qualifiers for the Missouri State Wrestling Championships, seven finalists and three champions. They scored 197½ points to top rival Kearney by 17 and win the first Class 3 district title in program history — a third straight tournament win this season.
Platte County’s last district title came in Class 2 back in 2007.
“Great, hard-working group of kids,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “I’m very proud of everything they’ve done. We want to keep building on that. We’ve made great strides the last three weeks.”
Platte County’s qualifiers include seven with previous state experience while Zach Rolofson (second, 113), Tyler Blankenship (fourth, 182) and Casey Jumps (second, 220) earned their first trip this past weekend at Oak Park High School.
Matthew Schmitt (126), Ethan Karsten (145) and Johnny Blankenship (160) were all district champions for the Pirates a year after they only had one. Schmitt won his third straight district title and leads a contingent of three defending state champions and five previous medalists hoping to put Platte County in an exclusive and possibly non-existent club.
After finishing fifth at state in Class 3 each of the previous two years, Platte County hopes to break into the top four and win its first state trophy at that level and become possibly the first team in Missouri history to win one at three different levels.
“If we as individuals take care of ourselves, it will then in return help out the team,” said Schmitt (44-2), a 2013 state runner-up at 106 and state champion at that weight last year who has won 33 straight matches.
“Going into state, I’ll be on the guys, but come state, we’ve got to worry about ourselves.
“That’ll lead us, hopefully, to the team championship.”
Schmitt dominated his bracket, wrestling for less than 5 minutes combined in his three victories. That included a 16-1 technical fall of Smith-Cotton’s Blake Pomajzl (43-5) in the 126 final. Blankenship, also a two-time medalist and state champion at 145 last year, also won a 16-1 technical fall in the 160 final, scoring 16 answered points starting midway through the second period against Raytown South’s Otis Peeler (33-7).
Like Schmitt, Blankenship enters state on an unbeaten streak since a third-place finish at Basehor-Linwood’s Bobcat Invitational last month.
“Districts aren’t a big deal, but it’s a step in the process to the bigger goals of state,” said Johnny Blankenship, who finished fourth in districts last year before going on to claim his first state title. “Districts wasn’t my time last year, but I’m feeling good now.”
Karsten experienced more struggles on the way to winning the 145 bracket.
A failed throw in the first period of his semifinal against Harrisonville freshman Braden Danner resulted in a 5-0 deficit. Danner took him straight to his back and nearly scored a pin, but Karsten fought back and eventually forced overtime, scoring a takedown in overtime to get out with an 8-6 decision win.
In the championship match, a second-period clasping call against Belton’s Caleb Chevalier in the second period ended up being the difference in a 5-4 win for Karsten.
“Ethan is Ethan, and he’ll be ready next week — I guarantee, 100 percent,” said Burress, a not-so-veiled reference to Karsten’s upset of Oak Park senior three-time state champion Noah Teaney in last year’s 126 state final.
Platte County’s district title hopes endured an early setback when Derek Kincaid came in 0.2 of a pound overweight and was disqualified from the 106 bracket. The Pirates couldn’t substitute in a backup and were also without a 138-pounder.
Advancing seven to the finals ended most of the drama, along with a few standout contributions that were a little less expected — mostly from the three first-time qualifiers and the three others who emerged from wrestlebacks with top-three finishes.
“I feel like we’ve given ourselves the best chance we’re going to have,” Schmitt said. “Come next Thursday, it’s game on, so we’ll see what happens.”
Jumps made his first final with a comeback 4-3 decision win against Kearney’s Cale Garrett in the 220 semis. Grain Valley’s Brad Feagans rode Jumps out for the entire second period and won a 1-0 decision with a third-period escape.
Jumps went winless on varsity in 2013-14 as a freshman.
Trey Dockery (132) and Louden Bredeson (170) went through wrestlebacks after quarterfinal losses to earn third-place finishes and return trips to state. Dockery qualified last year, while Bredeson — a senior — went as a sophomore in 2013. Johnny Blankenship also emerged from the backside for his first state berth, winning a 3-2 decision against Warrensburg’s Dayton Brown in the consolation semifinals to reach the third-place match.
Rolofson (20-15) edged past Kearney’s Mason Lockamy with a 4-2 decision in the semifinals, but the sophomore lost an early lead in the final against Harrisonville’s Austin Schaub, a state medalist at 106 last year who won a 7-4 decision to claim the 113 title.
The other two previous state medalists were also district finalists.
Caleb Crabtree — headed to his third state tournament (third at 132 in 2013 and second at 138 in 2014) — forced overtime in the 152 championship bout against Oak Park’s Hunter Shelton but lost 6-3. Shelton scored two in the first half of the second overtime, one a stalling penalty point against Crabtree and the other an escape, to go up 4-2. Crabtree escaped in his half but also gave up a late takedown.
A sixth-place state finisher at 182 last year, Adam Muehlebach (24-13) made the 195 final to continue his recent strong run, but Van Horn’s Carlos Cubas pinned him in the first period to take the title. Muehlebach had won 13 straight prior to the loss.