KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The result appeared to be a formality with three matches to go, but Tylen Wallace didn’t want to leave any doubt.
Schlagle’s brawny senior continued to work for a pin as the seconds ticked away in the first period of the Metro Classic’s 285-pound match, not wanting to miss a chance to end Kansas’ lengthy losing streak in the annual all-star dual. Staley’s Dan Mangold fought off his back for the majority of the 2-minute first period but couldn’t avoid the fall Tuesday, March 6 in the gymnasium on the campus of Kansas City (Kan.) Community College.
Missouri never led, and Olathe North’s state champion trio of Jevon Parrish (126 pounds), Javier Contreras (145 pounds) and Terrell Garraway were all victorious to help Kansas stop its five-year losing streak. Wallace’s pin sealed the dual, and Kansas won 10 of 14 matches in a dominant 35-15 victory.
“I was working extremely hard,” said Wallace, a three-time Class 5A state medalist at 285 (second, third, third the last three years. “I couldn’t get around to where I wanted to get around to at first. I had to try and reposition myself, stay still and pull his arm out as long as I could. He was just bridging hard on me.
“That’s the way I wrestle. If I gotta go the distance, I gotta go the distance. I can go the distance, but if there’s no need to go the distance, why go the distance?”
Missouri entered with wins in seven of the past eight showcases pitting top seniors from the Kansas City metro area on either side of the state line.
With the dual starting at 126 pounds, the two teams split the first four matches — all decisions — before Kansas took control with a run of four straight wins from the second of two 145-pound matches to 182 pounds. Platte County led Missouri with a program-record four participants, but the Pirates went just 1-3 in their matches.
Missouri entered with 5 of 14 wrestlers having no state finals experience.
Contreras started the decisive stretch with the first bonus points result of the night, nearly pinning Staley’s Lane Burch in the second period on the way to a 7-0 lead. Contreras ended up with a 9-1 major decision to put Kansas up 10-6, a lead that wouldn’t be relinquished.
“You know it’s been a while since Kansas has won, so we wanted to do everything possible to get more bonus points for the team so at the end of the day we could be on top,” said Contreras, a two-time state champion who helped Olathe North to this year’s Class 6A team title.
Isaiah Luellen — a two-time state champion and four-time medalist for Class 3-2-1A Rossville — followed with a 7-3 decision at 152. He knocked off Blue Springs’ Class 6 state champion Brett Heil to join older brother Isaac Luellen as a winner in the event from a small Kansas school on the outskirts of the selection area.
“I’m glad I could follow in his footsteps and get the win like he did,” Luellen said. “I would’ve liked to attack more. I felt like they should’ve hit me for stalling two or three times. I was backing up. I should’ve been attacking more, and I’m sorry for the fans who had to see that.
“I feel good, but I still feel like I could’ve pushed the pace more.”
Up 13-6 after Luellen’s win, Kansas added more bonus points with Garraway’s 10-2 major decision over Rockhurst’s Dawson Ervie — one of three wrestlers for Missouri with no career state medals along with Staley’s Burch and Mangold. Garraway completed Olathe North’s run of three victories on the night.
Basehor-Linwood two-time state champion then dominated Platte County’s Dakota Schmidt in a 7-1 decision to expand Kansas’ lead to 20-6 after eight matches. Trowbridge controlled the match despite an obvious difference in strength against a two-time medalist wrestling down from 182 to 170 with the event’s weight allowance.
“I came out with the same game plan I have every other match. It’s just another match, and I’m going out there to win,” Trowbridge said. “He was strong; he was very strong. I was not holding on. I was still trying to work, but it’s hard to work against a guy that strong and so much stronger than me.”
Summit Christian’s Brett Campbell stopped the skid with a decision victory at 182.
A two-time undefeated state champion in Class 1, Campbell spent much of the regular season at 195, moved up to 220 on the way to his second state title and then dropped to 182 for the Metro Classic. He collected a pair of takedowns and earned a stalling penalty point in a 6-3 decision over Olathe South’s Nick Jouret — a two-time state champion in Kansas’ largest class and a four-time state medalist.
“This is the first time I really wasn’t underweight,” Campbell said. “I like being the underdog and being able to challenge myself and overcome stuff. It’s really fun to me.”
The momentum didn’t last for Missouri, which still trailed 20-9 after Campbell’s win.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ Anthony Gaona held on for a 3-2 decision over Blue Springs’ Zach Hazen at 195, and the 220 match went to overtime. Platte County’s Sage Smart (two-time state finalist and 2017 state champion) and Cordel Duhart of Blue Valley Southwest (two-time Class 5A state champion) ended regulation and the 1-minute sudden death period tied 1-1. Duhart rode out Smart for the first 30-second tiebreaker period then scored the winning escape in the second, taking a 2-1 decision.
Kansas led 23-9, and Wallace’s dramatic pin ended any hope of a comeback for Missouri with an insurmountable 29-9 lead.
“When guys are winning, doing their thing, you just feel it and then go out and get your ‘W,’ too,” Wallace said.
Missouri’s most decorated wrestlers were at the end of the dual but didn’t have a chance to sway the outcome.
Kearney’s Clay Singh, who recently became one of five four-time state champions crowned in Missouri this year, cradled up Wellsville’s Ryan Ware early and won the fourth and final match for the Show-Me State. The fall was the lone bonus point victory.
Cody Phippen, who started his career as a state finalist at Basehor-Linwood as a teammate of Trowbridge before becoming the fifth three-time state champion in Platte County history, ended up in the night’s second overtime match. A penalty point gave Olathe South’s Jace Koelzer a tying point in the third period, and regulation ended with the score tied 1-1.
After a scoreless sudden death period, Phippen couldn’t escape in the first tiebreaker period with Koelzer scoring the winning escape in the final moments of the second for a dramatic 2-1 decision that capped the 20-point dual victory.
“I was kind of bummed out I didn’t get to start it off with that and go into Cody’s match with more encouragement,” Singh said. “We didn’t get to, but I thought I was going to be able to close the deal with me and Cody at the end. But the dual didn’t turn out the way I thought it was going to.”
Missouri opened the dual with a mix of encouraging and disappointing results.
In the first match, Olathe North two-time state champion Jevon Parrish went up 2-0 early with a takedown against Park Hill’s Weston DiBlasi — a three-time Class 6 state medalist. DiBlasi appeared to have a reversal and two back points from the top position in the second that weren’t awarded before taking a 4-2 lead with a reversal moments later.
DiBlasi nearly worked a spladle in the closing seconds of the second period, but Parrish survived and then tied it 4-4 with a reversal at the 1:18 mark of the third period. DiBlasi went back ahead with an escape, leaving Parrish with 33 seconds to overcome the one-point deficit.
Parrish scored the winning takedown with 6 seconds left to give Kansas a quick 3-0 lead.
“He was pretty funky. I just had to stay true to myself and keep what I work best on,” Parrish said. “I knew if I was able to run my feet I’d be able to finish. I was hoping to get the fire started for Team Kansas.”
The 132-pound match featured the most points and excitement for the night.
Platte County’s Austin Kincaid — a state medalist as a sophomore and a senior — reversed Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Jared Habben to his back for four points in the first period to take a 6-5 lead after the first period. Kincaid had two reversals in the first period and four in the match.
Habben avoided a reversal late in the second period but gave up an escape to take a tenuous 10-9 lead. Kincaid took him to his back for another four-point move in the third period before Habben responded with a reversal to tie it 13-13.
Kincaid scored the final reversal with about 25 seconds to go and briefly worked to try and score the fall but ultimately settled for the 15-13 decision, giving Missouri an early tie.
“I wasn’t worried. I’m pretty good at coming back when I’m down a couple points to get the win,” Kincaid said. “I just go out there and do my thing and know I’m capable of winning every match I go out there and do that so might as well just let it fly in my last high school match.”
Mill Valley’s Conner Ward — a four-time Class 5A state finalist who won his first state title last weekend — then secured a dominant but uneventful 7-1 decision over Blue Springs’ Jett Merlo.
Missouri again tied the dual score at 6-6 with Smithville’s Nick Bollinger (Class 3 third-place medalist at 145 this year) winning a 6-1 decision in the first 145-pound match. He led Tonganoxie’s Gad Huseman (three-time Class 4A medalist) 2-1 after the first and then scored a reversal to go up three points.
Bollinger rode out Huseman for the remainder of the second period, forcing him to go neutral to start the third period. Bollinger added another takedown in what seemed an important win for Missouri.
“I definitely peaked at the end of the season,” Bollinger said. “It’s my last year. I’m not wrestling in college next year so I wanted to prove what I have this last year, put everything I have on the mat at state and here.”
Instead, Kansas won the next four matches and overcame the early split. Missouri still holds the advantage in the all-time series 17-9 on the strength of the recent run of success entering the 2018 event.