By KALEB HUFFMAN
Special to the Citizen
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When it comes to Missouri high school wrestling, there’s a good-chance if you come out the champion of the Missouri State High School Activities Class 4 District 4 meet, you’ll be the state champion.
At least that’s been the case since 1999 when Blue Springs South started the trend and Park Hill hopes to keep the streak alive after claiming the district championship 243-241.5 over Staley at Staley High School on Friday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 10.
Multiple schools from around the area including the Park Hill South Panthers- 15 to be exact gathered in hopes of being crowned a champion.
The reigning state champion Staley were no match for the No. 23 ranked team in the nation (Park Hill) according to InterMatwrestling.com and the No. 2 team in the state as ranked by missouriwrestling.com.
The Trojans’ showed their mettle by collecting seven-individual championships — sophomore Ethen Miller 120 pound, senior Weston DiBlasi 126 pound, junior Austin Kolvek 132 pound, senior Josh Steele 145 pound, junior Carter Goslee 152 pound, junior Devin Winston 182 pound and sophomore Johnny Wilson 285 pound. Meanwhile the Falcons claimed just four individual championships, but had eight additional state qualifiers.
“We had a good-day, today,” Trojans coach Jeff Davis said. “Hopefully this puts in good position next week at state with 10 state qualifiers.”
Miller (120-pounds) was the first Trojan, to claim a title after defeating North Kansas City sophomore Demetrius Trotter 3-0 by decision. Miller’s big move of the match was a two-point takedown in the second period.
DiBlasi, needed overtime to knockoff Liberty’s Kage Lenger for the 126-pound crown. Then Kolvek kept the roll going by knocking off Fort Osage’s AJ Sanchez with a fall at 4:18.
Steele, made quick work of Fort Osage’s Lee Rodriguez with a fall 1:25 into the 145-pound title-match giving the Trojans their fourth-crown in as many tries.
Perhaps the most-entertaining match of the day, came in the 152-pound match. Trojans junior Goslee and junior Tyler Craig of Staley personified the battle for the team championship in an aggressive hard-hitting contest.
Goslee claimed the upset-victory 13-10 by decision over the higher-seeded Craig, but not before Craig started losing his temper. Just before the final seconds, Craig began thrusting elbows into Goslee’s back.
This led coaches from both sides to lose their tempers and they eventually had to be restrained from each other.
“I don’t really know what happened at the end,” Goslee said. “Me and (Craig) used to be best-friends growing up and teammates. I was frustrated, but I kept my head and won the match. It’s always good to be the underdog and win the match.”
After, Trojans junior Blake Hopson fell to Rocky Elam of the Falcons in the 170-pound championship, state champion Winston picked the Trojans winning ways right back up.
Winston pinned Falcons senior Hunter Pyle’s shoulders to the mat in just 54 seconds for the 182-pound crown.
The final championship for the Trojans’ came when the sophomore Wilson held off Falcons senior Dan Mangold in the 285-pound bout.
Wilson held a commanding 5-1 lead after two periods, but Mangold made a late-charge as Wilson was losing steam. However, Wilson was savvy enough to keep Mangold off the scoreboard for the 5-2 triumph by decision.
“It felt pretty good, winning today. I am pretty confident in my double-leg,” Wilson said. “I started feeling pretty tired down the stretch, so I didn’t want him to take me down at the end. I am going to have to put in the work to build on today’s win.”
The Trojans had three other state qualifiers (Hopson, Ashton Sharp 195 and junior Simon Tesfamarian). They join the Trojans seven individual champions with a place in the state tournament.
The Falcons had eight additional state qualifiers, raising their total of sending 12 wrestlers to Columbia on Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, 17 for the MSHSAA State Wrestling Championships.
“We are going to have to wrestle our tails off next week,” Davis said. “Our wrestlers are going to have to wrestle to the best of their abilities, but I’m glad for a kid like Tesfamarian, who has wrestled for three years and is making his first trip to state.”
Park Hill South will be sending three wrestlers to the state championships (freshman Kale Slater 120 pounds, senior Andrew Miklus 138 pounds and sophomore Max Rosario 160 pounds). The Panthers finished in sixth-place with a total of 75 points.
Miklus, claimed second place after a loss to the Falcons’ Blake Berryman. Rosario, was the only Panther to leave on a winning note after a quick fall on Liberty North’s Tanner Loveall 51 seconds into the match.
“It felt really good winning the match that quickly for my first-trip to state,” Rosario said. “I can’t explain how excited I was after winning. I expect good things from myself and my teammates at state.”