SMITHVILLE, Mo. — Four area wrestlers secured a spot in the history books on Saturday, Feb. 2.
Two wrestlers from Platte County and one each from Park Hill South and North Platte, via Mid-Buchanan, advanced to the first-ever MSHSAA Girls Wrestling Championships after placing in the top three at the Class 1 District 4 meet at Smithville High School.
Platte County will be represented by Avery Krahenbill and KayLyn Munn at state, with both entering with wins in the third-place matches. Unlike the boys districts, only the top three wrestlers go to state instead of the top four.
Going into the place matches, only Park Hill South’s Finley Bickford and Mid-Buchanan’s Haley Sampson had punched a ticket to state. That meant the Pirates grapplers had to win and both delivered.
Krahenbill faced St. Joseph Benton’s Lexi Peterson for the second time in the tournament and got a late reversal to take a 3-0 lead and held on for the win in the third-place match. Now 15-6 on the season, all five of her matches were determined by close decisions.
She beat Smithville’s Kaitlyn Case (7-6), Benton’s Peterson (2-0) and Maysville’s Zoie Sears (2-0).
“I was working for this for a long time,” Krahenbill said. “When I got the reversal, I knew it was good to go. I just had to finish out the match strong. My goal was to go to state. If I worked hard and put in the work, it would show on the mat and that right there proved I can work hard to get whatever I want.”
Krahenbill has been wrestling for five years and got into it after being told she couldn’t play football. She then got into wrestling and was hooked.
Munn lost her opening match to Lafayette County’s Trinity Weaver but then won four in a row to reach state. A 1-0 decision over Liz Garrison of Excelsior Springs kept the season alive and then Munn pinned Staley’s Anna O’Neill and then pinned Weaver in a rematch.
In the third-place match, Munn needed 56 seconds to pin Lawson’s Patricia Baker to earn a spot in Columbia.
“It was really thrilling, it gave me a lot of adrenaline to push through fast and get the pin,” said Munn, whose brother Jerrin, a member of the wrestling team, was filming the match. “I went thinking, I didn’t want to be there for three rounds. I wanted to get it done and get to state, so I did my best.”
Sampson and Bickford both the finals and finished as runners-up.
Bickford went 4-1 for the Panthers and fell by a 5-4 decision to Fort Osage’s Tess Kinne, who improved to 23-0 with the win. Bickford tied the match at 2-2 early in the second period, but trailed 4-3 going into the final period.
To reach the finals, Bickford (15-7) posted a 13-5 major decision against Plattsburg’s Amelia Schneider. Bickford added two wins by pins on Friday, Feb. 1, beating Chillicothe’s Summer Drake and Kearney’s Sam Kister.
Sampson, the only girl wrestler on Mid-Buchanan, became the school’s first qualifier.
The North Platte student admits it is unique to go to a different school and wear different colors to wrestle, but she is happy to be the first qualifier.
“It was kind of my goal to go to state, that was my main goal,” said Sampson, who is now 10-3 on the season.
She pinned Staley’s Lucy Saladino, then won an 11-0 major decision against Marceline’s Rachel Cupp in the quartefinals. In the semifinals, Sampson topped Krahenbill, 3-0.
In the championship match, Sampson was pinned by Lawson’s Brooke Cox in 2:52.
Platte County’s Sarina Bertram, Park Hill South’s Mystique Anderson and West Platte’s Grace Stevens, Lara Lieske and Mikenna Peters also took part in the district tournament.
Bertram went 3-2 and had the closest call to making state, coming two wins shy. She lost in the quarterfinals to Liberty North’s Emma Williams, 5-1, but Bertram then beat Oak Park’s Lily Martin and then Smithville’s Jozie Kammler by pins. In the consolation semifinals, she lost by pin to Polo’s Abigail Bolling. A win there would’ve sent her to the third-place match.
“I’m proud of all of the efforts,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said of his three wrestlers at districts. “It is a great environment for them. It is a lot of fun, a lot of firsts and a lot of excitement in there. There was a lot of mystery and understanding about girls wrestling, but hopefully other girls will come out and work and have success.”