Today through Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia
** 1 The battle for the Class 4 trophy
Park Hill used the Class 4, District 4 tournament to confirm what most already assumed: It has the deepest lineup in the state. Eleven Trojans are making the trip to Columbia, and five of those will carry No. 1 seeds — Sean Hosford (106 pounds), Ke-Shawn Hayes (113), John Erneste (120), Hunter Roberts (126) and Malik Colding (170). But the two-time defending state champion Blue Springs Wildcats certainly won’t go down without a fight. The Wildcats have a group of four wrestlers — Daniel Lewis (138 pounds), Darick Lapaglia (145), Cain Salas (152) and Michael Pixley (182) — who have combined to lose just one match this season. In addition, Jamie Foutz (195) and Austin Reyes (220) are top seeds.
** 2 A chance to leave on top
Several area seniors have earned No. 1 seeds with the opportunity to end their high school wrestling careers with first-place medals. For Blue Springs South senior Austin Eads (160), it’s an opportunity he feared might never come. Three months removed from a potentially season-ending knee surgery, Eads will enter the state tournament with only seven regular season matches under his belt — but all are victories. Center High School senior Maliek Collins, a Nebraska football recruit, carries a perfect 44-0 record into the Class 2 heavyweight division. Oak Park senior Brad Perkins (126) is a perfect 87-0 in his high school career. His teammate, senior Jaeger Low (170) is also a title contender. Lee’s Summit heavyweight Logan Drake seems to be hot at the right time. He pinned every opponent he saw in districts to receive a top seed for his third and final trip to the state tournament.
** 3 Kearney lacks quantity but has quality
Only a week ago, it appeared the Kearney Bulldogs were the team to beat in the Missouri Class 3 state tournament. How quickly things can change. As they head to Columbia, the Bulldogs just might be underdogs. They qualified eight wrestlers for the state meet, but Neosho will take 13. That’s a big difference to make up, but it’s not insurmountable, especially given Kearney’s formidable group. Jaret Singh (113 pounds), Kevin Kinney (138) and Grant Leeth (145) all left Mizzou Arena with first-place trophies a year ago, and they earned No. 1 seeds by winning their districts last week. Kearney will require deep runs from that trio, along with supporting-cast points from Blake Clevenger (132) and Blain Dresher (160). Another team to keep an eye on in the Class 3 mix is Platte County, which qualified 11 wrestlers for the state meet. Freshman Matt Schmitt (106) and senior Trent Sluder (220) are both No. 1 seeds.
** 4 Oak Grove on solid footing
The Oak Grove Panthers backed up their No. 1 ranking in Class 2 by qualifying 10 wrestlers for the state tournament. Four of the 10 qualifiers won their district classes — Brock Mercer (106), Jake Best (120), Tyler Brown (126) and Anthony Barker (138) — giving them No. 1 seeds today. Perhaps even better news, the remaining six placed second or third, meaning they will avoid facing No. 1 seeds in today’s first round. In perhaps a sign of things to come, Smithville challenged Oak Grove for the Class 2, District 4 title. Dalton Tipton (145), Matt Ray (182) and Jacob Bohlken (195) are three Smithville wrestlers to keep an eye on at Mizzou Arena.
** 5 Can O’Hara, Lawson make noise in Class 1?
These two schools took a hard-fought battle down to the wire in the district tournament, with O’Hara ultimately prevailing. It’s this weekend’s final standings, though, that truly matter. O’Hara sophomore Maverick Griffin (152) and Lawson junior Austen Eskew (195) should be in contention through Saturday.
| Sam McDowell, email@example.com
Sam McDowell, <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>