The first varsity tournament wins for Blake Bills and Austin Kincaid came at just the right place for both — at Platte County’s home tournament.
The two were among the four champions for the Pirates at the 46th Annual Platte County Pirate Invitational, which was held Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19-20.
The Pirates won the team championship with 279½ points, easily beating Rolla (245 ½) in the standings in the 12-team event. The tournament featured five teams ranked in the top 10 of their respective classes in either Missouri or Kansas.
Pirates won the title in 2015 and 2016, before taking second last year behind Seneca, which went on to finish second in Class 1.
“It is good momentum builder for our kids to win as we move forward to the next tournament and the state series,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “It is good momentum.”
Two of the champions for the Pirates were expected as Cody Phippen (126 pounds) and Sage Smart (220) rolled to titles.
The wins for Kincaid and Bills were memorable for both.
Kincaid (132) picked up five wins over the two-day event and he avenged his only loss in the championship match. In round three of pool play, Kincaid lost 8-7 to Zack Carr of Jefferson City Helias, who inflicted plenty of damage to Kincaid’s face.
The two met up in the finals thanks to Kincaid pinning Seneca’s Max Roark — a third-place finisher at state last year — in the semifinals.
In the title match, Kincaid pinned Carr at the 3:31 mark to win his first title at the Platte County Invitational after taking fourth last year.
“I love that my first tournament win was here, what a better place to have it,” Kincaid said. “I wanted to get revenge after he tore my face apart. It felt good to get the pin after he beat me after I gave up some crappy points.”
The win for Bills was a long time coming for the four-year varsity wrestler.
Bills (120) went 4-0 and won by injury default against Helias Catholic’s Evan Winder at the 2:44 mark, while posting wins against a pair of No. 3-ranked foes in Dalen Moore of Carthage (Class 3) and Tucker MacWilliams of Oak Grove (Class 2).
“To me this is extra special,” Bills said. “Four years of varsity and the last three I have been injured. I have never been able to wrestle this tournament. To come out my senior year and winning it in front of all of the fans … it was an amazing feeling.”
Bills, who last week defeated a three-time state champion in Kearney’s Clayton Singh, has been making steady improvement this year. He is 24-12 on the year following the wins, following a lost junior year that included a broken hand and ankle.
“He is making improvement every day and we have to have it,” Burress said of Bills, who has moved into 120 as Phippen bumped up a weight class.
Phippen picked up six wins, capped by pinning Rockwood Summit’s JT Hale in 35 seconds in the finals. Five of his wins came on pins — four in the first period — while the other victory came on a forfeit. Phippen was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, the second straight weekend he has earned such honors.
Sage Smart (220) — ranked No. 1 in 220 — won 5-1 against Kirksville’s Colton Gillespie (ranked No. 4 in Class 2) in the finals.
Two other Pirates made the finals, but wound up second.
Dakota Schmidt (182) lost in a battle of state-ranked foes against Cade Lautt of St. James Academy (Kan.). Lautt, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, won 5-1 and picked up three points in the final period.
Matthew Knopp (285) lost by pin in 51 seconds to Warrensburg’s Tanner Karnes, ranked No. 5 in Class 3.
Other medalist for the Pirates included: Grant Stathopolous (106, seventh); Nick Filger (138, fifth); Nolan Saale (145, third); Colton Davis (152, fifth) and Gabe Harmon (170, eighth).
47th Annual Winnetonka Tournament
For the second straight weekend, Lafayette (Wildwood) defeated Park Hill in a showdown of Class 4 schools.
The Trojans, ranked No. 22 in the Intermat Wrestling national rankings, had 331 points but came up nine points behind the St. Louis school ranked No. 3 in Class 4 by MissouriWrestling.com that also bested them in the Capital City Invitational the previous week in Jefferson City.
Class 4 champion Staley finished third and Seckman — ranked No. 4 in Class 4 — was fourth.
The Trojans, the top ranked team in Class 4 according to MissouriWrestling.com, had five wrestlers reach the finals.
Austin Kolvek (132) posted a 7-0 mark in the two-day event and won the title with a pin against state-ranked Devan Lewis of Kearney in the third period. That was one of five wins by pin.
Devin Winston stayed perfect on the year, hiking his record to 35-0 with a six wins to claim the 182-pound title. The No. 1-ranked wrestler in the weight class won five matches by pin, topping No. 2-ranked Kyle Dickhaus of Eureka in the finals at the 1:11 mark. Winston also dispatched No. 5-ranked Clint Herrick of Raymore-Peculiar with a 15-2 major decision in the semifinals.
The Trojans had three runners-up.
Weston DiBlasi (126) lost a sudden death victory in overtime against Seckman’s Cameron Fusco in the finals, pitting the No. 2-ranked Fusco against the No. 3-ranked DiBlasi. To reach the finals, DiBlasi beat No. 4-ranked Ryan Lester of Eureka by a major decision, 13-3.
Staley’s Rocky Elam (170) beat Blake Hopson in the finals — the second matchup in two weeks and Elam has won both. The No. 2-ranked Elam beat Hopson, 5-3, in this go-around after posting an overtime win in a dual in the prior matchup. Hopson beat No. 6-ranked Jeremy Ashlock of Seckman in the semifinals, 5-4.
Johnny Wilson (285) lost in the finals by a pin to Ozark’s Jace Gorn, ranked No. 2 in the state.
Other medalist for Park Hill included Ethen Miller (126, fourth), Carter Goslee (152, third); Phoenix Thomas (160, eighth) and Simon Tesafamarian (220, fourth).
Park Hill again were without state-ranked Ashton Sharp and Trey Crawford.
Park Hill South took 15th in the 21-team field and had three medalists.
All three reached the fifth-place match and Andrew Mikuls (138) ended with a victory. He beat Ray-Pec’s Jacob Quest by a 2-0 decision, finishing 5-3 on the weekend. All three setbacks came to state-ranked foes.
Carter Thomas (132) and Gage Baska (126) both took sixth place.
Baska went 4-4 and all four of his losses were to wrestlers ranked in Class 4, the last to Liberty’s Kage Lenger, by a 18-0 technical fall, in the fifth-place match.
Thomas opened with three straight wins, but finished 4-4. He gave up a forfeit in the third-round of the consolation bracket to Ray-Pec’s Garrett Labelle and then lost by a 4-3 decision to Odessa’s Gavin Gross — ranked No. 5 in 132 in Class 2 — in the fifth-place match.
Mid-Buchanan picked up another team title, this time taking first in the Lathrop Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, in Lathrop, Mo.
Nine wrestlers placed in the top four for the Dragons, including the team’s two North Platte wrestlers.
Justin Roth (126) and Aaron Thomas (145) both placed third for Mid-Buchanan.
Roth went 4-1, ending with a 14-1 major decision against Sherwood’s Drayden Russell. The lone setback came in the semifinals, falling by a pin to Joe Johnson of Tina-Avalon.
Thomas also went 4-1, beating Mateo Messner of Stanberry by a pin in the third-place match, the second win in three days against him.
Thomas’ only loss came to Summit Christian’s Braeden Campbell (37-1), who beat him by a pin in the first period.
The Dragons had 255½ points, while Lathrop was second with 241 ½ in the 16-team field.