KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The all-star wrestlers from Kansas put an end to a five-year losing streak in the Blue Chip Metro Classic Battle at the Border on Tuesday, March 6.
The Kansas squad picked up a 35-15 win against Missouri at the KCKCC Field House at Kansas City (Kan.) Community College.
Platte County had four wrestlers competing, while Park Hill had one and that group posted a 1-4 mark, losing three of those matches by one point.
Reggie Burress, Platte County’s head wrestling coach, served as one of four coaches for the Missouri squad. He had the opportunity to guide the largest contingent of Pirates to take part in the annual event, breaking the previous high of three.
Austin Kincaid, Cody Phippen, Dakota Schmidt and Sage Smart represented the Pirates, while Weston DiBlasi was the lone Trojan at the senior showcase that featured college coaches from various level scouting those few who had yet to sign.
“Proud of all of them, a great group of seniors and glad we got to coach them,” said Burress, who was joined on the coaching staff by Scott Cutbirth of Summit Christian Academy, Jake Hill of Kearney and Blue Springs’ Bobbe Lowe. “I’m proud of the entire crowd showing up and supporting us. It wasn’t what we wanted but it happens sometimes.”
The match started at the 126-pound class, pitting DiBlasi — who is looking for a school to sign with after de-committing from Iowa State — against Jevon Parrish from Olathe North.
Parrish, a Nebraska signee, went up early and led 2-1 after the first period. After the second period, the two-time state champion led 4-2.
DiBlasi, who took took third place in Class 4 last month, tied the match at 4 with a reversal and then took the lead 5-4 with 32 seconds left.
The match went down to the wire between the duo each with 50-plus wins this season. Parrish pulled out the win with a takedown with 8.1 seconds left.
Kincaid had the next match and helped Missouri forge a 3-3 tie thanks to a thrilling 15-13 victory against Jerad Habben of Shawnee Mission Northwest.
This battle between two-time medalists was a back-and-forth tussle that went down to the waning seconds and each time it appeared one wrestler would get a pin, the other would flip the script get near fall points.
“I wasn’t nervous about him getting the fall,” Kincaid said. “I had a good partner the last few weeks with Weston DiBlasi. All we really did was scramble because I knew he could scramble. I’m pretty good at scrambling. I think I can win almost every position but a couple. He really helped me out.”
Kincaid, a Missouri Valley College signee, led 6-5 after the first period thanks to a near fall. Habben, who took third this season and went 42-24, took an 8-6 lead on a near fall early in the second, but a reversal by Kincaid tied it at 8.
Habben took a 10-8 lead and an escape by Kincaid made it 10-9 after four minute of action. The Kansan extended his lead to 11-9 early in the third, but Kincaid got the lead back on a near fall, only to have a reversal by Habben tie the match at 13.
With 19 seconds left, Kincaid — who took fourth in Class 3 — got a reversal to take the lead for good and seal the win.
The victory was special for Kincaid, who recalls coming to watch former teammates compete in the event.
“It is truly special to be in it and a great way to end my high school career,” he said. “It is outrageous how much competition we have on both sides. Props to Missouri and Kansas for bringing a hell of two teams.
“I have wrestled in Platte County since I was five, to come out with a win, representing Platte County one last time in high school is all I can dream.”
After a large break in action between local wrestlers, Dakota Schmidt was next up for the area wrestlers and drew Basehor-Linwood’s Jonny Trowbridge in a match at 170 pounds.
Trowbridge, a two-time state champion, took a 2-0 lead on a takedown and the lead grew to 4-1 with a reversal in the second period.
Trowbridge kept Schdmit, who took fourth place at 182, off the scoreboard in the third and won 7-1.
The win pushed the Kansas lead to 20-6.
The Kansas squad then picked up wins over the two state champions from Platte County — both coming in overtime.
Smart faced off against Blue Valley Southwest’s Cordel Duhart in a battle of state champions.
Wrestling without headgear and letting his sweet locks flow, Smart forced a 1-1 tie in the second period.
Neither wrestler scored in the third nor in the third overtime session, Duhart – a two-time state champion, got an escape with 19 seconds to pick up the victory.
“I knew it would be a close match,” Smart said of his foe. “I watched a little bit of film and I knew he liked to stall and back up and I knew it would be close with how I wrestled and how he wrestled.”
The final match of the night had a pair of Division I bound wrestlers and former youth teammates face off with Platte County’s Phippen and Olathe South’s Jace Koelzer.
Like Smart’s match, this match wasn’t one that featured any takedowns or reversals.
The match was scoreless after the first period and Koelzer, a two-time state champion, took a 1-0 lead in the second. With 36.1 seconds left, Phippen got away to force a tie in the third.
The match went into overtime and could’ve went further had Koelzer not been able to escape Phippen’s grasp on his foot with 1.6 seconds left.
The two will both wrestle in Colorado next year, with Phippen going to Air Force and Koelzer attending Northern Colorado, both schools are members of the Big 12.
“I wrestled him probably 15 times,” Phippen said. “We started wrestling at six years old and wrestled all the way up and we will be going to college right next to each other and it won’t be the last time I wrestle him. We’ve always had a great friendly competition and we’ve been dueling partners for a long time. He is a good buddy of mine so always great competition with him.”
Phippen, who moved to Platte County after wrestling for Basehor-Linwood through his freshman year, saw a lot of familiar faces across the mat. He estimated more than half of the Kansas squad was part of his youth team growing up.
Being the last match of the night allowed Phippen to watch former youth teammates as well as his current Pirates teammates compete.
“It was fun cheering on my teammates and for one of them, this was the last time in a singlet,” Phippen said of Schmidt. “It is fun to share that last moment with him. He has always been a hard worker and I loved having him on my team.”
Missouri had won five versus Kansas and seven of the past eight before the loss.