KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A different Devin Winston came to the Kansas City Stampede this year — stoic, confident and meticulous.
Park Hill’s star junior ran through the 182-pound bracket in one of the Midwest’s largest tournaments over the weekend, finishing with a tidy pin of Neosho’s Joey Williams in the championship bout Saturday, Dec. 16 at Hale Arena. Winston finished third a year ago at Stampede after a semifinal loss to St. James Academy (Kan.)’s Clay Lautt, but he wouldn’t lose again last season on the way to a Class 4 Missouri State Wrestling Championships’ 170-pound title.
Winston remains unbeaten this season, looking as dominant as anyone in the state.
“I just think that it opened my eyes last year,” Winston said. “It was my only loss of the season so it pushed me a lot to get better. That told me I had to keep working hard to get where I wanted to be.”
Winston led Park Hill’s second-place team finish in a field of 40 teams from across the country. The Trojans had a pair of finalists and 10 competing in the Gold Bracket — reserved for the top 16 finishers out of pool wrestling.
Platte County wound up tied for 14th with a trio of medalists — seniors Sage Smart (third, 220), Cody Phippen (fifth, 120) and Dakota Schmidt (seventh, 182).
Despite wrestling without sophomore Ashton Sharp (illness) at 195, Park Hill put five in the gold division semifinals with Winston and sophomore Trey Crawford reaching the championship matches. Crawford remained unbeaten competing at 113 this season until losing an 8-6 decision to two-time Georgia state finalist Logan Ashton of Burford in the final.
“I’m feeling really good, individually and as a team,” Crawford said. “We’ve been doing some new things in the (practice) room, and they’re leading us in the right direction.”
Winston didn’t receive many challenges. His three pins in pool matches all lasted less than a minute, and he needed just 1:06 to earn the fall against Staley’s Shannon Stewart in the first gold bracket match.
The closest match for Winston ended up being a dominant 4-0 decision over Schmidt in the quarterfinals, while his final two opponents — Whitfield’s Noah Elmore and Williams — lasted until the second period.
“Everything was good except that match with Schmidt,” Winston said. “He’s a tough kid. I just think I didn’t wrestle to my full potential, and it was a closer match than it should’ve been.”
Crawford was nearly as dominant in his run to the finals.
With bonus point wins in every match up until the finals, Crawford — a fifth-place finisher at state in Class 4 at 106 as a freshman — won an 18-3 technical fall over Kearney’s James Freitag in the quarterfinals then turned Collinsville (Okla.)’s Rocky Stephens to his back twice in a 13-3 major decision in the semifinals.
After a scoreless first period, Crawford fought back from a deficit against Buford before the junior returning state champion scored the winning takedown late.
“I should’ve got out and pushed the pace a little more,” said Crawford, who finished ninth at Stampede at 106 a year ago. “Besides that, I thought I had a pretty decent match — just some small errors.”
Park Hill ended up with seven total medalists.
Josh Steele, a senior, made a return to the semifinals after placing second at 132 a year ago. Up at 145 this year, Steele struggled in a 7-3 loss to eventual champion Conner Ward of Mill Valley (Kan.) before coming back to take third with a tough 3-2 win over Lucas Desilva of Collins Hill (Ga.) in his finale.
Weston DiBlasi, another senior, finally made the semifinals at Stampede but ended up third at 126. He gave up a five-point move early in a loss to Seckman’s Cameron Fusco but came back to win out and earn his highest medal in four tries at the tournament after finishing seventh, seventh and fifth the last three seasons.
Park Hill junior Austin Kolvek (132) made the semifinals for the first time.
A fifth-place finisher at Stampede a year ago, Kolvek gutted out a 2-1 decision over Neosho’s Trenton Young in the quarterfinals before being shutout in the semifinals. Kolvek lost each of his final two matches but finished fourth.
In addition, Park Hill freshmen Ethen Miller (fifth, 120) and Grayston DiBlasi (eighth, 138) finished in the top eight. Trojans juniors Blake Hopson (ninth, 170), Carter Goslee (10th, 160) and Phoenix Thomas (16th, 152) also made the gold bracket.
Only six for Platte County reached the gold bracket, and half medaled.
Smart turned in his best ever showing at the Stampede and continued a strong early run coming off of a state runner-up finish in Class 3 at 195 last season. He medaled for the first time, beating Blake Minnick of Edmond North (Okla.) 2-1 in a physical quarterfinal to assure no worse than fourth place.
In the semifinal, Smart faced off against Staley senior and two-time Class 4 state champion Zach Elam, who used an early five-point throw to take a big lead. Elam went on to a 12-0 major decision — his only match that didn’t end with a quick pin.
“I grew up with him,” Smart said. “I knew what he was going to do, and being one of the first kids to go all three periods with him really boosted my confidence.”
Smart dropped into the third-place match and scored a pair of takedowns against Grayson Walthall of Christian Brothers (Tenn.), a returning state champion. Smart previously finished first in the silver bracket as a sophomore and just missed a medal at ninth a year ago — both at 195 — in two trips to Stampede, but he displayed an increased confidence in this year’s tournament.
“Not placing in the top eight last year and coming in and placing third is nice,” he said. “Every year, I’m slow with my attacks. I think this tournament helped me pick it up, getting back into the swing of getting to my attacks in every match.”
Phippen and Schmidt both became three-time Stampede medalists.
For the second straight year, Phippen lost a quarterfinal to Caleb Tanner of Collinsville (Okla.), giving up a late reversal for the only points in a 2-0 loss. Phippen then ran through Class 4 Missouri state champion Cevion Severado (10-0 major decision), three-time Class 3 state champion Clay Singh (9-0 major decision) and Park Hill’s Miller (4-0 decision) to take fifth for a second straight year.
Phippen was a 2015 Stampede champion at 106 before ending up fifth each of the last two years due to the early gold bracket losses.
“I definitely wasn’t planning on losing to that kid. I was looking for some redemption from last year,” said Phippen, who scored his 150th career win with the major decision against Singh. “But yeah, I was glad I came back strong and wrestled well. I felt like I wrestled good, just that one loss kind of hurt.”
Schmidt won his final match at Stampede for the first time.
After coming in eighth and sixth in the past two trips at 170, Schmidt drew Winston in the quarterfinals, forcing him into the consolation bracket after the 4-0 loss. Schmidt missed a return to the fifth-place match but won an 8-4 decision over Baylor’s Riley Westlake in the seventh-place match.
Schmidt also had an 11-1 major decision win in pool against Noah Hooks of Edmond North (Okla.). Hooks went on to reach the semifinals on the opposite side of the bracket from Winston and placed fourth.
Platte County’s other gold division finishers were senior Austin Kincaid (12th, 132), senior Blake Bills (13th, 126) and junior Nick Filger (14th, 138).
Lee’s Summit Holiday Tournament
Park Hill South’s Max Rosario continued a strong start to his season with a fourth-place finish at 152 over the weekend in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Despite a 2-2 start in pool matches, Rosario won his quarterfinal in sudden victory against Lee’s Summit West’s Corbin Copsey. Rosario took him down and to his back for three near-fall points in the 11-6 decision.
Rosario lost his final two matches and finished the weekend with a 17-6 overall record.
Gage Baska (fifth, 126) and Andrew Mikuls (sixth, 138) also placed in the top eight for Park Hill South. Baska went unbeaten in pool matches but lost his quarterfinal in a 5-4 decision to Francis Howell’s Ben Wright before winning his final two. Mikuls went 5-0 in his pool and lost a 6-5 decision in his quarterfinal to Fort Zumwalt South’s Cameron Null.
Park Hill South finished 18th out of 23 teams in the final standings.
Platte County swept its duals Wednesday, Dec. 13 in Raymore, Mo.
In the opener with Grain Valley, the Pirates took control with quick pins for Schmidt — bumped up to 195 — and Smart at 220. The wins from the experienced seniors made it 24-6, and consecutive pins from Grant Stathopoulos (106), Nick Maddux (113) and Phippen (120) upped the advantage to 42-9.
Platte County staged a comeback to beat the hosts in the finale.
Raymore-Peculiar led 21-4 after a pin at 285 but lost the next seven to fall behind for good. Stathopoulos (106), Maddux (113), Phippen (120), Bills (126) and Filger (138) scored pins or won by forfeit during that stretch for Platte County.
Colton Davis capped the night with a takedown in sudden victory to beat Cody Morgan 6-4 in the 160 match.
Park Hill 54, Park Hill South 14
Cameron Gillespie opened with a win for the Panthers, but Park Hill won five straight to take control of the rivalry dual Tuesday, Dec. 12 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.
Park Hill took 11 of 14 matches, starting with a forfeit for Wesley Goad-Lopez at 182 following Gillespie’s 9-0 major decision over Spencer Eastwood at 170. The Trojans wouldn’t trail again with Simon Tesfamarian winning a key 9-6 decision at 220.
Park Hill South gave up three total opens and got wins from Mohamed Ali (fall at 113) and Baska (major decision at 126). Josef Moreno (106), Crawford (120) and Aidan Johnson (138) all had pins for the Trojans.