Park Hill wrestling's 3-time state champions relish 3rd straight team title

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill senior Colston DiBlasi is introduced to the crowd prior to the 170-pound championship match against Staley freshman Zach Elam during the Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships on Saturday, Feb. 21 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. COLUMBIA, Mo. — Ke-Shawn Hayes and Colston DiBlasi both took the opportunity to talk around finishing their careers at Park Hill with three individual Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships titles.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill senior Ke-Shawn Hayes, left, grapples McCluer North’s Efe Osagae in a 138-pound quarterfinal match on Friday, Feb. 20 during the Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Instead, the two seniors wanted to discuss the Trojans’ streak of team championships continued this past weekend at Mizzou Arena.

Yes, Hayes and DiBlasi — both bound to wrestle for NCAA Division I programs next year — finished out their careers in appropriate fashion, becoming the third and fourth in Park Hill history to win at least three state championships.

But nine of the Trojans’ 11 state qualifiers won at least one match, including a 1-2 showing from hobbled two-time state champion Sean Hosford.

There were six medals total — junior Canten Marriott’s first state title, the second at Park Hill and third overall for Ethan Koan and the first for freshmen Kelvin Eblen and Weston DiBlasi.

Overall, Park Hill scored 129½ points and beat second-place Holt by 26.

Hard to argue with the sentiment of what that team championship meant when Colston DiBlasi mentioned what this state experience meant to share with his younger brother. The conversation quickly drifted to Weston DiBlasi’s role next year on a team without without the elder DiBlasi and Hayes.

“He’s gotta turn around next year and get rolling with the kids and just show up,” Colston DiBlasi said. “He’s got to be one of those role models next year, one of those leaders with Canten and Sean because we’re going to need every person to do their part next year to win another one.

“We already made a legacy, so let’s make a dynasty.”

DAVID BREDESON/Special to The Citizen Members of the Park Hill wrestling team pose with the Class 4 championship trophy following the Missouri State Wrestling Championships on Saturday, Feb. 21 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

A season full of challenges ended with Park Hill mostly at full strength and looking like the best team in the state.

Hayes (138 pounds) and Marriott (152) finished off unbeaten campaigns, but both missed the start of the season due to injury. That meant absences from two of the toughest tournament’s in the nation — the Walsh Ironman and Kansas City Stampede — leading Hayes to say his 38-0 record “doesn’t really count.”

Hayes gave up just one point in four state matches, which came on a penalty point for unnecessary roughness after he shoved McCluer North’s Efe Osagae out of bounds during their quarterfinal match. He won that match 6-1 and his semifinal with a 8-0 major decision against CBC’s DJ Shannon.

Both opponents did whatever possible to avoid allowing Hayes to score points.

“I try really hard to keep my composure, but sometimes it gets difficult,” Hayes said.

Hayes went up against Francis Howell Howell’s Nick McGhee in the final and quickly took care of business. He rolled up 16 straight points to score a technical fall with a takedown 12 seconds into the third period.

Although the match seemed business-like, Hayes admitted to the emotions of his third straight state final and last match with Park Hill.

“I don’t think of myself as an emotional person, but we were over there in the tunnel and I started tearing up a little bit,” Hayes said. “But then the other kid was over there so I had to cut that out real quick.”

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill junior Canten Marriott, rear, holds on to Jackson's Clayton Collier during a 152-pound quarterfinal during the Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 20 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Marriott’s road to his title was the adventure.

The Class 4 152 bracket included two other unbeaten wrestlers. Marriott topped Lee’s Summit North’s Keegan McCormick 3-1 in one semifinal to earn a shot at Seckman’s Luke Weiland in the final, which ended regulation at 0-0.

In the first 1-minute overtime period, Marriott earned a takedown with 16 seconds left to avoid further tiebreaker procedures. Seckman’s coaching staff protested the call, but after a brief meeting, the officials upheld the 2-0 decision for Marriott.

“I was a little bit nervous, but I knew that I could get the takedown afterward if I had to,” said Marriott (34-0), the fourth state champion in his family, joining father Darren (1984) and brothers Drew (2003) and Dylan (2010) — all won at Excelsior Springs.

Teammates swarmed around Marriott in the tunnel underneath the stands at Mizzou Arena to congratulate him.

The well-wishers included a visibly emotional Hosford, who broke his left tibia during the Ironman and did not return until districts. He didn’t end up on the medal stand and saw his chance to join Missouri’s four-time state champions come to an end after losing 6-4 in the opening round of the 160 bracket to Seckman’s Cole Jenkins.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill junior Sean Hosford, right, reacts after being eliminated from the Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 20 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Hosford came back to win his first wrestleback match but lost for the second straight week to Raytown’s Josh Drake — this time 4-3. Wrestling up two weight classes because he did not certify at 145 prior to the injury and on a still not-fully-mended leg ended up too much to overcome, but Hosford didn’t shy away from the chance to help out, although he finished his season at 9-5 and clearly not at that level he’s shown on the way to state titles at 106 in 2013 and 120 in 2014.

“I wanted to wrestle for my team,” he said of the decision to try. “It’s all worth it. I mean my best friend (Marriott) just won state, and I’m in tears about it. I never cried when I won state. I’m more excited for my buddy. I’m excited for our team.

“That’s three in a row. I mean I only scored one team point, but I’m excited I’m a part of the team.”

Eblen nearly made it four finalists for Park Hill. He led Seckman’s Cameron Fusco 6-5 late in the third period of their 106 semifinal on Friday night, but the Jaguars freshman reversed Eblen to his back in the final 20 seconds of a 9-6 victory.

Winning his final two matches, Eblen finished his season at 35-7 with a third-place medal.

Koan (41-5), a senior, won his final three matches. He lost a 10-7 decision to CBC’s Charles McNeal in the 120 quarterfinals but came back to win their rematch 6-3 in the third-place match. That decision mathematically assured Park Hill of the team title.

Weston DiBlasi (33-10) went 3-3 overall but ended up sixth at 126 after losing his final two matches. He now sets about adding to the family legacy in the future after coming in one spot back of where Colston DiBlasi finished at the same weight during his freshman year.

Colston DiBlasi went on to lose only 12 matches in his final three seasons, and he capped off Park Hill’s perfect finals round this past weekend.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill senior Colston DiBlasi works to pin Park Hill South senior Dylen Propes in a 170-pound semifinal on Friday, Feb. 20 during the Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Facing off against Staley freshman Zach Elam for the third time this season, including a rematch of the Class 4 District 4 championship bout from a week prior, Colston DiBlasi stayed in control throughout and won a 5-0 decision. He scored an early takedown, and as the Trojans crowd in a set of bleachers near the mat became vocally frustrated with Elam’s strategy, Colston DiBlasi took a second to give a confident wink in their direction.

“Calm down. Hey, there’s nothing to be worried about; relax,” Colston DiBlasi (47-2) said of his thoughts at the time. “My mom, she says when she watches me wrestle it’s like a heart attack every time. It was to let her calm down and let her know I’m all right.”

Never a doubt.

Colston DiBlasi finished out the win then customarily turned his headgear askew before shaking hands with Elam and having his hand raised one last time as a winner at Park Hill.

There were no flashy celebrations from any of the Trojans champions. They just enjoyed the opportunity to add to the program’s legacy, which now includes nine team championships.