Perfect Pirate: Platte County's Phippen wins 3rd straight title

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Even though Cody Phippen came up short of reaching his goal, he still left a lasting mark on his final trip to the Missouri State Wrestling Championships.

The senior etched his mark in not only the lore of Platte City wrestling, he is now one of 109 wrestlers in MSHSAA history to win three state championships.

A transfer from Basehor-Linwood after his freshman year, Phippen went a perfect 3-for-3 at the state finals in Missouri, winning state titles at 106 pounds, 113 and on Saturday, Feb. 17, he won the 126 pound title at Mizzou Arena and helped his squad take third place in Class 3.

 DAVID BREDESON/Special to the Citizen Platte County senior Cody Phippen has his arm raised by the official after winning the Class 3 126-pound championship at the Missouri State Wrestling Championship on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. 

DAVID BREDESON/Special to the Citizen
Platte County senior Cody Phippen has his arm raised by the official after winning the Class 3 126-pound championship at the Missouri State Wrestling Championship on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. 

He posted a 9-1 major decision victory against Grain Valley’s Caleb Benshoof in the finals and became the fifth Pirate to win three state championships and the third in the past three seasons.

Aided by a takedown and near fall with 9 seconds left in the first period, Phippen led 5-0 going into the second.

That just padded Phippen’s school record for near falls, a mark he broke at districts.

He added points on two other occasions over the final two periods to pick up the victory against a two-time medalist. The two met for the 106 pound title in 2016 and Phippen picked up his first state title with a 15-0 technical fall.

“I’d like to have pinned my way through, but I guess I’ll take a major decision,” said Phippen, who will wrestle for Air Force next year. “I wasn’t really nervous at all. I just wanted to come out and dominate. I haven’t pinned my through and I really tried this year.”

Phippen came very close to accomplishing that by getting pins in his first three matches against St. Charles’ Jordan Medina, Rolla’s Zach Fennell and Hannibal’s Tyler Leonard.

He needed only 49 seconds to take down Leonard, who finished with 49 wins and placed sixth.

Fennell, the third-place finisher, had a 38-3 record and was ranked No. 2 in the MissouriWrestling.com rankings — just behind Phippen.

Platte County wrestling coach Reggie Burress noted that Phippen earned bonus points for Platte County in all but one of his matches at state. As a sophomore, Phippen won by a pin, major decision and two tech falls. Last year, two pins opened the tournament before Phippen pulled out a 4-2 win against Cody Hey of Washington in the semifinals. In the 113 pound title match in 2017, Phippen thumped Kearney’s Caden Green by a 15-2 major decision.

The win in the finals against Benshoof — ranked No. 3 — gave Phippen 50 wins for the first time his career at PCHS and put him four wins shy of Matthew Schmitt’s school record for wins in a season set in 2015.

Phippen will join Schmitt, Ethan Karsten, Tyler St. Louis and Chase Verdoorn as three-time champions donning the black and orange singlet.

Verdoorn was the first, doing so in 2001-2003, while St. Louis won in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Schmitt and Karsten both won their three titles in consecutive years — 2014 to 2016 — on their way to Division I careers following graduation. Schmitt landed at West Virginia and Karsten was on the Missouri roster before transfering to Iowa Western Community College.

Those two played a role in the further development of Phippen, a runner-up in Kansas as a freshman.

“Coming in right away, they taught me how to be mentally stronger, how to be a better leader in the room and the mindset to come out and dominate, not just win,” Phippen said. “They always have been great friends and they still are great friends.

“It feel good to be part of the three-time club. A lot of those three-time champs did big things in college. There is still not a four-time champion so hoping they get that sometime soon.”

One could wonder if Phippen could’ve been the first had he been at Platte County all four years.

That thought has crossed his mind.

“I would’ve been a lot better off,” he said. “It is a lot better coaching, better competitive room and a lot different schedule. It was awesome to be here and be part of it. I’m glad it was Platte County over any other school. I don’t regret coming to Platte County.

“It prepares me for how it will be in Division I. All of these tournaments we go to are like national tournaments and it makes this seem like an easier tournament. I know I will have to bust my tail to get a lot better in college, but that’s the goal.”