With a lead slipping away, Kearney decided to go unconventional in an effort to salvage an important win.
Platte County senior Casey Jumps took a forfeit at 220 pounds with one match left in a dual Tuesday, Jan. 10 at Platte County High School. The Bulldogs opted to bump Clayton Mordecai up to 285, needing a win of any kind from the two-time Class 3 Missouri State Wrestling Championships qualifier to avoid losing the lead.
Knopp flipped the script, pinning Mordecai in 4 minutes, 45 seconds to give Platte County a dramatic 37-32 win in front of a packed crowd with the biggest victory of his career.
“So far,” Knopp said.
Just one match away from qualifying for state last season despite a knee injury suffered just ahead of Class 3 District 4 competition, Knopp found himself truly in the spotlight for the first time.
Kearney led 32-16 after Chopper Mordecai pinned Ahmad Holt in the 170-pound match, leaving the Bulldogs one away from wrapping up the dual. Platte County bumped Dakota Schmidt to 182, and he won an 18-1 technical fall to close the Pirates within 11.
Sage Smart’s 9-1 major decision over Alec Wilmes at 195 made it 32-25, and Jumps’ forfeit left Kearney clinging to the one-point lead.
Clayton Mordecai twice buried Knopp on his back but couldn’t secure the fall. Mordecai chose top to start the third period while up 3-1 and turned Knopp to his back for a brief moment.
Knopp scored a reversal and the fall moments later, setting off a raucous celebration from teammates and the home crowd.
“A little panic at first but then just realized I’ve got to get off my back,” Knopp said. “I just focused in, got off my back and it ended up working out. It was just excitement. Feels good — great.”
Starting at 106, Kearney took control early with Platte County still without junior Jake Stathopoulos (knee) in the lineup.
Platte County’s Austin Kincaid tied the score up for the Pirates at 10-10 in a back-and-forth match with Mason Lockamy at 126. Both wrestlers spent time on their back before Kincaid earned the win midway through the second period.
After two wins for Kearney by decision, Jaron Hoegler (145) tied it again at 16 with a pin before the Bulldogs ran off three straight victories to seemingly take control for good.
The atmosphere slowly built from there, starting with Schmidt’s win at 182. Knopp ended up the unlikely hero as the clear underdog.
“That’s probably one of the craziest atmospheres I’ve ever been in through high school,” Kincaid said.
Platte County 60, Oak Park 16
No dramatics were needed Thursday, Jan. 12 at Oak Park High School.
Bradley Poos took control of his 160-pound match with a four-point move early to open the dual. He ended up needing to hang on late, avoiding a pair of potential reversals, in a 4-2 decision over William Ng.
Platte County won 10 of the first 11 matches, including taking three forfeits from 285 to 113 to seal the win. Poos’ victory over a former district foe set the tone after he took Ng to his back for a takedown and two near-fall points for what turned out to be his only points.
“That kind of sets the mindset for the whole night,” Poos said. “That’s a big match for me to win and for the team to start off the right way.”
Schmidt (170), Smart (195) and Jumps (220) all had first period pins, and the three opens increased Platte County’s lead to 39-6. Blake Bills followed with a solid 8-3 decision at 120, and the Pirates wrapped up the dual before Oak Park could get to the strength of its lineup.
Kincaid (126) and Nolan Saale (132) added back-to-back pins, and Hoegler scored the last victory for the Pirates with a fall at 145.
West Platte went 0-3 in duals vs. Grand River Conference competition Thursday, Jan. 12 in Maysville, Mo. Albany beat the Blue Jays 36-30 with the Warriors winning all three head-to-head matchups.
Against Stanberry, West Platte again hung close with Blake Davidson (126) and Brayan Rodriguez (132) recording pins in a 30-24 loss. Maysville won 49-12 against the Blue Jays with Justin Howard (160) recording the lone pin for West Platte in the loss.
North Andrew triangular
West Platte split a pair of duals, beating North Andrew on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in Rosendale, Mo.
In the victory, Rodriguez lost 2-1 in the 132 match to North Andrew’s Drake Eychaner, a returning state medalist. West Platte lost all four head-to-head matches but earned four forfeits in the the 24-18 victory.
West Platte also lost 51-12 to Riverside (Kan.). Both of the Bluejays’ wins were by forfeit.