Park Hill continues to show exactly what makes the Trojans favorites to win another team state championship this season.
In their largest tournament of the season so far, Park Hill finished second out of 40 teams in the prestigious Kansas City Stampede at Hale Arena in downtown Kansas City, Mo. The Trojans didn’t have an individual champion for the second year in a row, but behind semifinalists Josh Steele and Devin Winston, they moved up from fifth a year ago with an injury-riddled lineup.
This marked Park Hill’s best finish in the KC Stampede field since winning it in 2008 and finishing as runner-up in 2009. The Trojans placed 13 of 14 wrestlers into the Gold Division bracket with five total medalists (top eight).
Steele, a junior, ended up as a finalist at 132 pounds after topping the Silver Division at 113 as a sophomore. He pinned his way through Pool C and then his first round bracket match — all in the first period — before winning decisions of 4-0 and 7-2 in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
In the final, Daton Fix of Sand Springs (Okla.) became a four-time Stampede champion with a 23-8 technical fall against Steele.
The depth and talent at the 40-team tournament showed off again. Platte County junior Cody Phippen and Kelvin Eblen met in the round of 16 at 113 in what was a rematch of last year’s Stampede final at 106. Phippen advanced but went on to finish sixth, while Eblen ended up ninth.
Park Hill’s talented lineup did enough to score 446½ points, 118 back of repeat champion Tuttle (Okla.), which had three finalists and two champions.
Winston, a sophomore, reached the semifinals at 170 to face eventual champion Clay Lautt of St. James Academy (Kan.). Lautt won a 3-1 decision, but Winston came back to beat Tuttle’s Tanner Johnson in a 6-0 decision for third place
As a freshman, Winston finished seventh at 160 at Stampede.
Park Hill junior Weston DiBlasi recovered from a quarterfinal loss — his first of the season — to claim fifth at 126 pounds. He pinned Logan Pirl of Goddard (Kan.) in just 35 seconds in the fifth-place match, equaling his finish at Stampede in the same weight class from a year ago.
In the quarterfinal, DiBlasi led 9-2 when he was called for an illegal slam, which gave the win to Brandon Bright of Edmond North (Okla.)
Tommy Lisher (152) and Austin Kolvek (120) also reached the fifth-place match for Park Hill but both ended up sixth for the Trojans’ final two medals. Kolvek was seventh at 120 last year, while Lisher, a senior, was not available last year due to injury in his first season at Park Hill after transferring from Baldwin (Kan.).
After finishing third a year ago with three champions, Platte County dropped back to 12th with 284 points, just three back of 10th-place CBC. The Pirates had three finalists last year but only one semifinalist in 2016 — senior Casey Jumps.
Seventh a year ago and 12th as a sophomore at 220, Jumps won a 10-2 major decision against Perry (Okla.)’s Bailey Burdick in the quarterfinals before losing 16-9 to Archer (Ga.)’s Quinn Miller in the semifinals. Miller went on to win the title but allowed his most points in any match against Jumps, who became a two-time medalist at Stampede with a 6-5 third-place victory against Kaden Hulett of Creston (Iowa).
After winning the 106 title a year ago, Phippen lost 7-4 to Caleb Tanner of Collinsville (Ga.) in a 113 quarterfinal. The 113 bracket ended up being wild with 2015 106 runner-up Eblen falling into the consolation early before losing again to Seckman’s Kai Orine.
Tanner, a freshman, went on to win the 113 title with a pin against Smithville’s Blake Ackerman in the final. Phippen came back with a win before losing 6-2 to Orine in the fifth-place match.
Orine was fourth at Stampede at 106 in 2015, while Ackerman was 13th.
Dakota Schmidt, a junior, turned in his best career Stampede performance at 170. He advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 decision over Cooper Roberts of Buford (Okla.) in the Round of 16 but lost to eventual champion Lautt in the quarterfinals.
Now a two-time medalist, Schmidt came back to reach the fifth-place match and finished sixth, up from eighth at the same weight a year ago.
Platte County junior Austin Kincaid won the Pirates’ fourth medal, placing eighth at 126. DiBlasi pinned Kincaid in the Round of 16 of the Gold Division, but he battled back with two pins of his own to reach the medal rounds.
In all, Platte County had nine reach the Gold Division bracket with Jake Stathopolos (11th, 106), Blake Bils (16th, 126), Jaron Hoegler (16th, 145), Sage Smart (ninth, 195) and Matthew Knopp (15th, 285) also finishing in the top 16.
Battle of Lexington
Parker Rotterman rebounded from a slow start to the season, reaching the finals of one of the largest small school tournaments in the state Saturday, Dec. 17 in Lexington, Mo.
A North Platte senior wrestling at Mid-Buchanan, Rotterman won a 7-6 deicision against Marceline’s Alex Cupp in the quarterfinals and then beat Summit Christian’s Braden Campbell 6-2 in the semifinals. Rotterman was the only finalist for Mid-Buchanan.
In the championship bout, Rotterman lost 20-3 to Father Tolton Catholic junior Jarrett Jacques, already a two-time Class 2 state champion while previously wrestling for Kirksville (2015) and Owensville (2016). Jacques continues to rank No. 1 in Class 1 at 152 pounds, while Rotterman moved from unranked to fourth this week after his finals appearance.
West Platte finished 29th out of 40 teams in the final standings without a medalist.
Lee’s Summit Holiday Invitational
Park Hill South sat 18th out of 20 teams after Friday’s pool wrestling in Lee’s Summit, Mo. The tournament was then canceled due to inclement weather on Saturday, Dec. 17 with no final results.
Gage Baska, a freshman, went unbeaten at 120 in three matches, while Cameron Gillespie went 4-0 at 160. Andrew Mikuls was 2-1 at 138 with a loss by technical fall to Oak Park standout Caine Harrison.
Park Hill South again had an incomplete lineup with only eight wrestlers total.