One of the most important times of the wrestling season, Park Hill coach Bill Erneste believes, is the holiday break.
There’s no important tournament or dual over the break for Park Hill. In fact, the Trojans won’t be wrestling a match until Jan. 8.
Rather, the time is important for another reason: It’s the period in which teams can develop a key piece to make a state-championship run.
“Right now, we’re working on that one guy,” Erneste said. “What I mean by that is we need to find that one guy who’s under the radar, who can eventually place at the state tournament. That’s what we’re searching for over Christmas.”
Even without finding that addition to an already stout team, Park Hill is in pretty good shape. The Trojans are the top-ranked team in the state, and they possess a balanced lineup that lacks holes or weaknesses.
And they have their share of reliable horses. That lists starts with Ke-Shawn Hayes, a 113-pound wrestler who is ranked fourth in the nation. Hayes was recently selected the Amateur Wrestling News High School Wrestler of the Week, a national honor.
Hayes is complemented in the Trojans’ lineup by 120-pound John Erneste and 170-pound Malik Colding, both of whom are the state’s top-ranked wrestlers in their respective weight classes. They give high expectations for Park Hill, a team already accustomed to lofty goals. The Trojans finished second to Blue Springs in Class 4 a year ago.
“Every year is a new year, and every year, the team takes a new identity,” Erneste said. “We need to find out who we are.”
Park Hill and Blue Springs are shaping up to be the two teams to again compete for the Class 4 title, with Seckman and Waynesville among the other teams in the mix.
Park Hill and Blue Springs will see each other often in tournaments, including an Oak Grove and Winnetonka tournament after the new year, providing early previews of the district and state tournaments.
“We haven’t put a stamp on what we really are,” Erneste said. “I think figuring out that mystery is what it’s about. (Blue Springs) knows it has the guns, but they’re looking for the supporting cast. I think we have the supporting cast in place, but we’re looking for the guns.”<h3>MissouriWrestling.com state rankings
(Kansas City area wrestlers among top three)
106 pounds: 3. Sean Hosford, Park Hill; 113: 1. Ke-Shawn Hayes, Park Hill; 120: 1. John Erneste, Park Hill; 132: Jimmy Carpenter, Park Hill South; 138: 1. Daniel Lewis, Blue Springs; 145: Derrick Lapaglia, Blue Springs; 152: 1. Cain Salas, Blue Springs, 2. Colston DiBlasi, Park Hill; 160: 1. Drew Daniels, Rockhurst; 170: 1. Malik Colding, Park Hill; 182: 1. Michael Pixley, Blue Springs, 2. Chase Gray, Park Hill South; 220: 2. Keyen Braughton, Liberty; 3. Austin Reyes, Blue Springs
113 pounds: 1. Jaret Singh, Kearney; 120: 1. Seth Brayfield, Kearney; 126: 1. Noah Teaney, Oak Park; 132: 2. Blake Clevenger, Kearney, 3. Jonathan Melton, Staley; 138: 1. Kevin Kinney, Kearney; 145: 1. Grant Leeth, Kearney, 3. Dominic Cervantes, Oak Park; 182: 2. Anthony Flores
106 pounds: 1. Dakota Miller, Odessa; 113: 3. Brett Shull, Odessa; 120: Jake Best, Oak Grove; 126: 1. Ty Cochran, Harrisonville, 2. Tyler Brown, Oak Grove; 3. 132: Bryce Merce, Oak Grove; 138: 1. Anthony Barker, Oak Grove, 2. Jimmy Migletz, Smithville; 145: 3. Logan Cairer, Oak Grove; 152: 1. Brennan Johnson, Excelsior Springs; 160: 1. Tony Clinesmith, Excelsior Springs; 170: 2. Taylor Brinegar, Oak Grove, 3. Bailey Wilson, Smithville; 182: 2. Levi Turley, Odessa, 3. Matt Ray, Smithville; 195: 3. Preston Airington, Oak Grove; 285: 1. Maliek Collins, Center, 2. Joe Schlechter, Harrisonville
138 pounds: 2. Dakota Smidt, Lawson; 182: 3. Zach Black, Lone Jack; 195: 3. Austen Eskew, Lawson