Another Trojan trophy: Third-place finish marks 12th year in a row with hardware

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Park Hill continues to add trophies to the collection at the Kansas City school.

On Saturday, Feb. 16,- the Trojans took third place in Class 4 with 146.5 points, coming in behind season-long nemesis Liberty (159.5) and Christian Brothers College (169.5), which repeated as state champions. Staley finished fourth, giving the Northland three of the four top teams in the state.

CODY THORN/Citizen photo The Park Hill wrestling team took third place in Class 4 at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.

CODY THORN/Citizen photo
The Park Hill wrestling team took third place in Class 4 at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships.

The trophy is the 12th in a row for Park Hill and the 16th over the past 17 years. The lone exception came in the 2006-2007 season.

“We didn’t get our goal, but I thought we wrestled well and had people step up,” said Park Hill coach Jason Beck, who just finished his first year at the helm after coming over from Leavenworth, Kan. “It is a tough tournament, it really is. The four teams clumped in the top, three are city schools 10 miles apart. Twelve of the 28 finalists were from our district.

“We expected to win. We are disappointed we didn’t get the job done, but I’m super proud how they battled. I’m proud of our boys.”

Park Hill had four wrestlers in the finals and seven of the 11 that went to Mizzou Arena brought home a medal.

The highlight of the weekend belonged to Devin Winston, who became a two-time champion with his victory in the 195-pound class on Saturday.

Winston, a Minnesota commit, picked up a 3-1 decision against Chase Stegall of Northwest Cedar Hills in the champion.

Winston got a 6-2 decision over Eureka’s Jake McCollum in the semifinals after posting falls against Seckman’s Blake Fritz (1:03) and Battle’s Devin York (43 seconds).

“It is great,” said Winston of winning his second state title. “I came up short a couple of times, but when you are on the top step, I can’t even put into words. It is just all your hard work and effort paying off.”

Winston won his first title as a sophomore winning 7-1 against Lafayette Wildwood’s Austin Stofer. He returned to the title match last year, but lost to CBC’s DJ Shannon, now at Illinois, by a 3-2 decision.

“They for sure make you better, they make you hungry and they humble you,” said Winston of the losses, though he posted a 168-11 mark at Park Hill. “You can’t wait until the next state tournament. I’m thankful for the position my family and my coaches put me. I can’t be more thankful for Park Hill wrestling.”

Winston went 41-1 this year and his only loss came in a tournament in Ohio earlier this year.

“What a way to cap off a great career for Park Hill,” Beck said.

Ethen Miller (126), Blake Hopson (170) and Ashton Sharp (220) also reached the finals for Park Hill.

Miller lost by an 8-0 major decision against Seckman’s Kai Orine (50-1), now a two-time state champion.

Miller earned his way to the title by beating Ray-Pec’s Coleton Cahill, Ft. Zumwalt North’s Teddy Hickey and Carthage’s Dalen Moore all by technical falls.

Park Hill’s Devin Winston, left, battled Chase Steggall of Northwest Cedar Hills for the Class 4 195-pound championship on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Park Hill’s Devin Winston, left, battled Chase Steggall of Northwest Cedar Hills for the Class 4 195-pound championship on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Hopson was in the title match for the second straight year and this time faced off against Liberty’s Greyden Penner in a rematch of the district title match.

Penner got the best of Hopson again, beating him 25-10 in the finals.

Last year, Hopson lost by a 14-8 decision to Hickman’s Jeremiah Kent, who now wrestles for Missouri.

Hopson pinned two foes in less than a minute — Carthage’s Brandon Crow in 33 seconds and McCluer North’s Ibrahim Ameer in 56 seconds ­— and bested Seckman’s Jeremy Ashlock 3-1.

He finished his senior season with a 22-8 mark.

Park Hill’s Ethen Miller, left, battles Ray-Pec’s Coleton Cahill in the first round on Thursday, Feb. 14.

Park Hill’s Ethen Miller, left, battles Ray-Pec’s Coleton Cahill in the first round on Thursday, Feb. 14.

Sharp was third the past two years and this year took second, reaching the finals after close calls in the semifinals the previous two wins. This time, Sharp ran into nationally ranked Kale Schrader of Carthage, who finished 54-0.

Schrader led throughout the match and got a pin with 29 seonds left in the contest to secure a title.

Sharp pinned McCluer North’s Josh Rayford in the opener before posting 4-2 wins against Joplin’s Jadyn Withrow and Lafayette Wildwood’s Austin Wegener.

“All of the loses came against D-I guys or guys with one loss,” Beck said.

Grayston DiBlasi, Trey Crawford and Kal Miller were all in third-place matches for the Trojans.

Early Saturday, DiBlasi’s win over AJ Sanchez not only secured his first medal, but also gave the Trojans the team lead temporarily. It marked the first time all year, Park Hill was ahead of Liberty in the standings.

DiBlasi won 1-0 against Sanchez, after winning 9-7 in overtime against Nixa’s Kolyn Eli and a 4-3 win against Seckman’s Anthony Chellew in the consolation bracket.

DiBlasi, a first-time state qualifier, lost by a pin to CBC’s Kyle Prewitt in the quarterfinals, who was the eventual state champion.

In his third-place match, DiBlasi (145) lost by a 9-2 decision to Waynesville’s Gaven Sax.

“He proved a lot to himself and other people,” Beck said. “Just scrappy. He had three of the most exciting matches and it was fun to see. It was excellent to see him come out of his shell and score a lot of points.”

In what was an expected outcome, Crawford (138) faced off against Liberty’s Austin Kolvek, a former Trojan. Crawford posted an 8-3 win against Kolvek, his fifth of the year against the Blue Jay transfer, this time coming in the third-place match.

“It was disappointing, but we still got to out there and wrestle,” Crawford said of facing Kolvek again. “That is what I did. I got the job done and scored some team points.”

This was Crawford’s most matches against any foe in his three years of high school. He faced Staley’s Khyler Brewer four times as a freshman.

Added Beck, “The onus comes on the person that keeps wanting to win.”

Crawford beat Fox’s Dylan Looney and Chaminade’s Sam Schultz before falling to CBC’s Vincent Zerban — the eventual champion — in the semifinals.

Now a two-time qualifier, Crawford has a fifth-place medal also to his name, but the strive for the top spot on the podium is still there for the junior.

“It is still not where I want to be, but I need to keep making strides and next year work to be on top,” he said.

Kal Miller reached the semifinals before falling to Brewer, the runner-up at 120. Miller posted wins against Ft. Zumwalt West’s Lucas Oxler in 32 seconds to open the tourney and then beat Belton’s Bradyen Bradley in the quarterfinals. After an 8-4 loss to Brewer, Miller beat Jackson’s Alec Bailey to secure a medal in his first trip to state.

The freshman lost his final match, 6-1, to Lafayette Wildwood’s Jayden Carson.

“I didn’t get quite what I wanted, but there is next year,” said Miller, who was 28-6. “I got to get better. I learned not everything will go my way. I got to keep working on it and I need to get to more of my attacks on offense. I got what I deserve.”

Park Hill South

The Panthers had only one qualifier, but Cameron Gillespie came close to earning a medal.

He opened with an 8-4 decision over Jackson’s Cole Amelunke in the 182-pound class. Gillespie then lost by a fall to Wentzville Holt’s Colton Hawks in the quarterfinals on Friday. Hawks reached the finals, but lost to Staley’s Rocky Elam.

Later that day, he kept his season alive with a win against Seckman’s Andrew Warren, pinning him in the third period.

In the bubble round, Gillespie lost to Raymore-Peculiar’s Clint Herrick by a 9-3 decision. Herrick took third by beating Liberty’s Jackson White.