Online extra: Platte County prepares for district tournament

There are no returning champions and no wrestlers heavily favored to win a state championship for Platte County.

However, the Pirates enter this weekend's Class 3 District 4 meet with three ranked in the latest MissouriWrestling.com rankings. The tournament starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8 and will wrap up on Saturday, Feb. 9 with the top four finishers in each class moving onto the state championships.

The field is led by Kearney, the defending Class 3 champions and currently ranked No. 2 in the state and Smithville, ranked No. 3. 

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Last year at the state tournament, Platte County took third and Smithville was fourth, as the district took home three of the four trophies. 

The two Suburban Conference Blue Division foes each beat Platte County in duals this season, but coach Reggie Burress feels good about his Pirates.

“I feel good, we are not favored in any weight classes, but I feel we can win and battle and get kids through and get them on the stand,” he said. “We can maybe surprise some people. We don't have any returning state champs right now, but that is life. These guys have to make for a name for themselves. It starts now.”

The Pirates enter with Nick Filger, Nolan Saale and Jaydon Walls are ranked going into tournament. 

Each one of them is behind another wrestler from the district in the MissouriWrestling.com rankings. 

Filger, at 138, is No. 3 overall but is behind Smithville's Mitchell Bohlken, who is No. 1.

Walls, a freshman, is No. 5 at 170. He started the year wrestling 182 but dropped a weight class and had found success. He is seeded behind Kearney's Chopper Mordecai, No. 2 in the rankings and a state runner-up last year. 

The third ranked grappler is Saale, No. 4 in at 160, two spots behind Kearney's Coby Aebersold. Saale made the quarterfinals last year, but then lost the next two matches at the state tournament.

“We know with the competition we wrestle, we know we are ready for the district and state run coming up,” Saale said. “I will go out there and stick to my game plan.”

Saale noted the toughness of the Pirates' schedule – going to the Cheesehead Invitational and Kansas City Stampede – made everyone in the room better even if the outcomes don't show.

The district is particularly tough and the senior is aware what it means to move onto Columbia.

“Sometimes the top four in the district is the top four in the state,” Saale said. “It means something … you have a chance to medal or win state.”

Last year, the district had at least one wrestler in the finals or third-place match in all 14 weight classes, while the 120, 126, 145, 195 and 220 finals featured two district 4 wrestlers. 

Other teams competing at district will be Kansas City East, Grain Valley, Grandview, Harrisonville, Helias Catholic, Raytown South, Kansas City Ruskin, Sedalia Smith-Cotton, Van Horn, Warrensburg, William Chrisman and Winnetonka.

“Everyone is excited and some people will shock some people,” Saale said. “I do like being under the radar. When we do what we are capable of, it will turn heads.”