COLUMBIA – For the second year in a row, the Class 4 state championship team trophy will head to St. Louis with Christian Brothers College High School.
That said, the Kansas City wrestling community once again proved its worth. Not one, not two, but three metro schools cracked the top four in the final Class 4 team standings and brought home all-state honors from the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships this weekend at the University of Missouri’s Mizzou Arena.
Liberty made program history by finishing as the state runner-up. Park Hill and Staley added to their ever-growing collections of state trophies by placing third and fourth respectively.
Behind the work of eight state medalists, the most in a single season in program history, Liberty finished second in the state with 159.5 team points, 10 behind CBC’s championship total of 169.5. Ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, the Blue Jays came up a little short of the ultimate prize in part because they did not have the services of 120-pounder Ayden Dolt, who was unable to compete due to a injury suffered at districts a week earlier, but they still captured only the third state team trophy in team history (fourth place in 2002 and 2005).
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Liberty head coach Dustin Brewer said. “I’ve never had a team that cared more about the team’s success than this one. They were willing to sacrifice for the team, and that tells you something about what they’re made of. Our goal was to win the state title, but that didn’t go exactly as planned, especially when you have four tough teams battling to out the way we did. I’m still extremely happy with their effort and accomplishment.”
As expected, Liberty’s three team leaders who were ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective weight classes – freshman Easton Hilton (106 pounds), junior Jeremiah Reno (113) and junior Greyden Penner (170) – claimed individual state championships. But it was the work of the other five medalists who enabled the Blue Jays finish ahead of Park Hill (146.5) and Staley (131).
Liberty senior Austin Kolvek placed fourth in the 132-pound weight class and will be the only state loss to graduation. Juniors Drake Smith (152) and Jackson White (170) finished third and fourth respectively. Freshmen Kyle Dutton (126) and Wentric Williams III also finished on the state medal stand.
“I always thought we could be a top-four team, but our young guys gave us the ability to compete for a state title,” Brewer said. “We’re going to enjoy this, but we’re already looking forward to next year. With the group we have, the expectation is that we will be even better next year. I’m excited for the offseason and to see the gains we can make.”
Kansas City wrestlers showed up in droves for the awards ceremony Saturday night. Collectively, 31 wrestlers from the metro stood on the podium by placing among the top six in their respective weight classes, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the state medalists. Twelve KC competitors wrestled in state title bouts, and six came home as individual state champions – three from Liberty, one from Park Hill, one from Staley and one from Blue Springs.
Liberty led all Kansas City teams with its eight state medalists. Park Hill finished with seven and Staley six. Belton, Blue Springs and Raymore-Peculiar had two medalists each. Fort Osage, Lee’s Summit North, North Kansas City and Truman had one apiece.
Here’s a look at each weight class. Every state medalist from the Kansas City area is listed.
106 pounds: During the second half of the season, Liberty’s Easton Hilton had been regarded as the top 106-pounder in the state. Nothing changed at the state tournament as the freshman ran through his competition without much problem and finished the season with an impressive 46-4 record and state title to boot. Hilton pinned his first two state opponents to reach the semifinals where he received his stiffest challenge of the weekend from DeSmet’s Colton King but still secured a 4-1 decision. In the state title match, Hilton dominated Peyton Moore of Nixa to the tune of a 10-0 major decision. Blue Springs’ Cayden Dotson (45-8) dropped a 5-2 decision to Moore in the semifinals but still finished on the medal stand by taking fourth.