KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Platte County couldn’t have asked for much more than to have a shot at an upset entering a star-studded 220-pound match.
Park Hill sophomore Ashton Sharp ended up with a 3-2 decision over Sage Smart in a meeting of state medalists Tuesday, Dec. 5 at Park Hill High School. Despite losing a team point for an illegal slam after time ran out in the third period of the match, the Trojans held on for a 38-31 win in a recently revived rivalry featuring plenty of theatrics in recent years.
In a dual that started at 106, Platte County didn’t trail until Josh Steele’s second period pin at 152 followed with a forfeit at 160 despite facing a lineup ranked No. 11 in the nation, according to Intermat. The Pirates’ effort included a major decision for senior Cody Phippen in a battle of state medalists at 120 and junior Nolan Saale’s dramatic pin of standout freshman Grayston DiBlasi at 145.
“Our kids wrestled hard,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “That’s what we ask them to do: get better every day. I think we’re seeing some of that come to fruition tonight. We can’t ask any more than the effort we got tonight.”
Steele led Platte County’s Jackson Phan 12-0 with three near fall points pending when he scored the important pin in the middle of the dual. Phoenix Thomas then took six points for a forfeit at 160 to put Park Hill ahead 27-22, having completely erased an early 16-0 deficit.
Burress bumped Colton Davis up to 170 to try and swing the dual again, but Park Hill’s Spencer Eastwood, making his varsity debut, took an early 7-0 lead.
Davis fought all the way back and led 8-7 and 12-10 in the third period. Eastwood earned a winning takedown as time expired to put the Trojans up eight with four matches to go.
“One thing you know about us: we’re going to come and compete hard,” Burress said. “We may not be laden with superstars, but we’re going to be laden with hard-working kids.”
Platte County senior and returning Class 3 state medalist Dakota Schmidt (182) and Park Hill junior and defending Class 4 state champion Devin Winston (195) then traded pins against overmatched foes. That left the Pirates still down eight and in need of an upset from Smart.
A 2017 state medalist at 195 as a freshman, Sharp scored an important takedown in the second period and then the winning escape early in the third period. Smart — a 2017 Class 3 state finalist at 195 — was up a weight while still cutting weight coming out of football season.
Sharp threw Smart to the bare gym floor off the mat as time expired, costing the team point and wrapping up the win with an unfortunate punctuation. Park Hill led 38-28 before Platte County senior Matthew Knopp won a 3-1 decision over Simon Tesfamarian in the 285 finale — a match overshadowed by the 220 dramatics.
“The way we conduct ourselves, our reputation precedes us around here — and rightfully so,” Park Hill coach Jeff Davis said. “It’s embarrassing from a standpoint that we don’t have to be that way or act that way or do those things. It was nice to win, but I was thoroughly embarrassed at the way our athletes acted.”
With junior 285-pounder Cameron Woodard out with an injury and after a busy opening week of competition, Park Hill bumped the majority of its lineup up one weight class.
Platte County (0-1) took advantage with a pin for freshman Grant Stathopoulos at 106 and receiving a forfeit at 113. Phippen — a two-time Class 3 state champion — then dominated Park Hill sophomore Trey Crawford (fifth place at state in Class 4 at 106 as a freshman) for an 11-0 shutout at 120.
Park Hill also wrestled without two-time state qualifiers Carter Goslee and Blake Hopson but still won seven of 12 head-to-head matches.
“Seemed like a good idea at the time to give them a little break on their weight,” Davis said. “Obviously, our performances demonstrate that was not the best choice I made.”
Platte County would win only three more matches but maintained a 16-15 lead after three consecutive wins for Park Hill starting with freshman Ethen Miller’s third period pin at 126 against Blake Bills. Trojans senior Weston DiBlasi — a three-time state qualifier, two-time medalist and 2016 finalist — followed at 132 with an 8-0 decision over Platte County senior Austin Kincaid, a two-time state qualifier and 2016 medalist, and junior returning state medalist Austin Kolvek finished the run with a 22-7 technical fall over junior Nick Filger, a state qualifier last year, at 138.
At 145, Grayston DiBlasi led 2-0 after a second period takedown, but Saale tied it with an escape and then a penalty point for a throw off the mat after a whistle. The match ended in a wild scramble with both wrestlers on their back before Grayston DiBlasi appeared to pin himself with 31 seconds left in regulation.
“It wasn’t like a ‘We took you down and pinned you,’” Burress said. “It was fight, fight, fight, and it was a great effort by (Saale).”
Platte County led 22-15 after Saale’s pin but couldn’t maintain, dropping to 0-1 entering a scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 13 triangular with Raymore-Peculiar and Grain Valley. Park Hill improved to 7-0 entering a Tuesday, Dec. 12 dual with Park Hill South (result not available) after being pushed for the first time since a 33-27 season-opening win against nationally ranked Broken Arrow.
Park Hill has won each of the four duals with Platte County since the 2014-15 season.
“(Platte County is) well-coached; they’re hard-nosed kids,” Davis said. “It’s a big rivalry, and it hadn’t been going on for about 10 years, and I reached out to Reggie when I got the job and he was more than willing to meet us up and kind of start the rivalry back a little bit and get us a competitive dual, which we needed.
“I see some of the antics, and I know why the series was kind of stopped.”
Lee’s Summit North Invitational
Park Hill South didn’t have a finalist but placed ninth in the final team standings out of 16 teams over the weekend in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Max Rosario (152) and Cameron Gillespie (170) both finished third for Park Hill South, while Gage Baska (126) and Andrew Mikuls (138) were fourth after losing third-place matches. Rosario went undefeated in six pool matches but lost his championship semifinal to Odessa’s Luke Malizzi — the sophomore’s first loss of the season — before coming back to win by pin in the third-place match.
The other three wrestlers for Park Hill South to make the third-place match lost once in pool wrestling.
Gillespie had a pair of pins in four pool victories but lost a 9-1 decision to Kearney’s Ethan Locke in the semifinals. Gillespie came back to win third by medical forfeit.
Baska, a sophomore, lost by decision to Kearney’s Pierce Garner and then lost in sudden victory to Liberty’s Kage Lenger in the semifinal. All three of Baska’s losses were by decision. Kearney sophomore Caden Green pinned Mikuls in a pool match, and Park Hill South’s top senior then lost by decision to Liberty’s Drake Smith and Lee’s Summit North’s Jaden Duran in bracket matches.
Park Hill South triangular
Park Hill South split a pair of duals in a home-opening triangular Tuesday, Dec. 5 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.
Starting at 113 against Raymore-Peculiar, Park Hill South won five of the first seven matches but that included decisions for Kale Slater (120), Baska (126), Mikuls (132) and Andre Anderson (145). A fall for Rosario at 152 made it 18-12 over Raymore-Peculiar, which benefitted from Park Hill South’s open spots at 113 and 132.
Raymore-Peculiar then won the final seven matches, including four more forfeits in a 48-18 win.
Park Hill South came back to down William Chrisman 47-27 despite four open spots. The Bears were open at five spots, and they won only one head-head to match.
Slater had Park Hill South’s only pin, while Gillespie recorded an 18-2 tech fall at 170.