Local products Chris Nilsen and Kevin Schultz recently captured national runner-up finishes at NCAA indoor championship events.
Nilsen, a Park Hill graduate, claimed his second straight NCAA Division I runner-up finish in the men’s pole vault on Friday, March 8 in Birmingham, Ala.
Nilsen, a junior and a two-time national champ, leaped a series-best 18 feet, 9 ½ inches for his fifth career top-3 finish. He finished behind LSU freshman Mondo Duplantis, who cleared 19-1.5.
Nilsen, who won the event in 2017 at 18-4.5, has claimed All-America honors five times now.
Schultz, of Platte County, picked up All-America honors in a pair of events at the Division II indoor national meet on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 in Pittsburg, Kan.
A senior, Schultz placed second in the men’s high jump with a clearance of 7 feet, 0.5 inches. Schultz, the Central Region Athlete of the Year and MIAA champ, finished behind senior Isaiah Kyle of Wingate, who won with a jump of 7-1.75.
Schultz nearly had a second runner-up finish in the heptathlon, but he finished third via a tiebreaker with Trey Miller of Central Missouri. He tallied 5,540 points for his second All-America honors in as many days.
All together, Schultz compiled 14 of Northwest’s 15 points, which was good for 17th place.
WELTY HELPS NWSU TO TITLE
Ryan Welty, a 6-foot-8 junior from Parkville, helped No. 1 Northwest Missouri State to a record fourth straight MIAA tournament championship with an 82-53 victory over Washburn on Saturday, March 10 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.
Welty, a Park Hill South product, who is a starting forward, contributed two 3-pointers for six points, three rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes of action.
Joey Witthus, a 6-7 senior, poured in 25 points from the Bearcats’ other forward spot, while guard Trevor Hudgins led Northwest with 27 points and five treys.
Northwest (32-0) led by as many as 34 points in the second half during the most lopsided MIAA championship game in the tournament’s history. It’s the Bearcats’ eighth league tournament title, the most in MIAA history.
Welty and Northwest are now set to host the NCAA Central Region for a third straight season. The top-seeded Bearcats take on No. 8 seed Minnesota State-Mankato at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 16.
Park Hill product John Erneste will make a third straight appearance in the NCAA Wrestling Championships after recently winning a third Mid-American Conference title for the Missouri Tigers.
Erneste, of Kansas City, won by a 6-2 decision in the 133-pound MAC championship, topping Buffalo’s Derek Spann.
Erneste (18-4) opened the league tournament by pinning Austin Macias of SIU-Edwardsville in 57 seconds in the quarterfinals. He earned a trip to the title match with another pin in the semifinals, beating Tim Rooney of Kent State in 5:56.
Erneste helped the No. 5 Tigers to an eighth straight MAC title, as Missouri claimed six individual league championships on their way to breaking its own tournament record with 180 teams points, topping last year’s mark of 177.
Erneste is one of nine Missouri wrestlers moving on to the national meet, which takes place March 21-23 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
ALSO HEADED TO NATIONALS...
Matthew Schmitt, of Platte County, is set to compete on the national stage for the second time in his NCAA career.
Schmitt, a 133-pound redshirt sophomore, received an automatic bid into next week’s national meet with a fourth-place finish for the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Big 12 Championships on Sunday, March 10 in Tulsa, Okla.
Schmitt advanced his way into quarterfinals with a major decision (12-0) win over Northern Colorado’s Sean Cannon. Schmitt was then pitted with No. 1 seed Daton Fix of Oklahoma State in the semifinals. Fix won in a 6-1 decision, sending Schmitt to the consolation bracket.
Schmitt then posted a 15-0 technical fall win over Northern Iowa’s Jack Skudlarczyk, placing Schmitt in the consolation finals against No. 2 seed Austin Gomez of Iowa State. Gomez won in a sudden victory, 5-3, handing Schmitt fourth place.
Ke-Shawn Hayes, an Ohio State junior from Park Hill, placed seventh in the 157-pound weight class at the Big 10 Championships to qualify for the national meet.
Hayes went 2-2 during the Big 10 meet, which occurred on Sunday, March 10 in Minneapolis, Minn.
Hayes, ranked No. 8, was upset in his opener to No. 17 John Van Brill of Rutgers. Van Brill earned a pin at 6:41.
Hayes then defeated No. 9 Eric Barone of Illinois in a 3-1 decision. But then No. 7 Kaleb Young of Iowa downed Hayes via an 11-1 major decision to put Hayes into the seventh-place match.
In a rematch, Hayes took care of Van Brill via a 5-3 decision to take seventh.
The Buckeyes took second at the Big 10 meet.
Also going is Colston DiBlasi. The Park Hilll product earned an at-large bid for George Mason.
He took fourth at 165-pound at the Eastern Wrestling League finals last weekend.
STEPHENSON THROWS COMPLETE GAME
Mack Stephenson hurled his first career complete-game shutout for the William Jewell Cardinals on Sunday, March 10 in Joplin, Mo.
The West Platte product allowed just two hits and one earned run across nine innings in William Jewell’s 4-1 Game 2 win over Missouri S&T.
In the conference opener, the Cardinals (6-8, 1-1 GLVC) suffered a 9-4 loss to the Miners.
Stephenson, a 6-foot-3 right-hander from Weston, struck out eight batters and walked six while throwing 146 pitches. He owns a 2-0 record with a 1.45 ERA after his first five starts of the season.
Stephenson is slated to play for the St. Joseph Mustangs this summer.