With three returning state champion wrestlers — a pair of them two-time winners — Blue Springs knows where its strength lies.
Daniel Lewis, Darick Lapaglia and Cain Salas have all started this season much the way they ended last year — in style. The trio of wrestlers each won state championships last year, and along with third-place winner Michael Pixley, they have helped Blue Springs stay optimistic about contending for a second consecutive Class 4 team state title.
Blue Springs finished second among 36 teams in the Kansas City Stampede a week ago.
But the Wildcats are still developing the cast to support its leading roles. With its bevy of sure-fire wrestlers, the Wildcats are ranked No. 2 in the state behind Park Hill, which finished runners-up to Blue Springs a year ago.
“Some of the other guys are going to have to start stepping up if we want to get to that next level,” Blue Springs coach Mike Hagerty said. “In an individual tournament, you can run on the merits of five or six guys on the team. In a dual tournament, that’s going to get you in trouble.”
The latter is how the Wildcats will be spending the holiday break.
Blue Springs is traveling to Rochester, Minn., for The Clash, a national high school wrestling dual tournament that Hagerty calls perhaps the most competitive dual tournament in the Midwest.
“I want to see our team start bonding,” Hagerty said. “I want to see everyone buy in and believe they can be a contributor. We’re going to wrestle some great competition, and I hope our guys learn how to perform as a team in a team environment.”
That process, of course, will take longer than the length of one tournament, but it’s an exercise that has separated the Wildcats as one of the state’s top programs over the past two decades.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, but I’ve seen it happen before where one guy in the middle of the season figures things out and starts to click,” Hagerty said. “That’s what I want to see now. With this tournament, the plan is to get them seasoned so at the end of the season, they’re better than what you saw early on.”<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