Liberty pushes through 13 to state

By Michael Smith

Liberty had thirteen competitors in the Class 4 Sectional 4 Tournament Saturday at Staley High School, and they pulled off what would be an improbable feat for most teams.

But it’s not improbable for the Blue Jays. They qualified all 13 of their wrestlers for the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships, which will take place March 13 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence. Liberty will have the most wrestlers at state out of any team in Class 4.

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This season, only the top three from each weight class qualified for state due to COVID-19 restrictions at sectionals. In previous years, the top four for each district qualified for state.

Those who qualified for the Blue Jays include Hunter Taylor (106), Cooper Rider (113), Christopher Coates (120), Easton Hilton (126), Jude Axsom (132), Kage Lenger (138), Kyle Dutton (145), Logan Rathjen (152), Jeremiah Halter (160), Jacob Lynn (170), Wentric Williams III (182), Jack Horn (195) and Jeremiah Cubuyaban (285).

Liberty North, Blue Springs and Staley were tied with the second most qualifiers with five apiece.

Below is a breakdown of each weight class at the tournament and the list of all 42 qualifiers:

106: Taylor, No. 2, faced a familiar foe in the championship round in Liberty North’s Michael Domino, ranked No. 5. Taylor had Domino’s number and that continued Saturday when Taylor got a pin in 3:19 to capture the weight class championship.

After dropping an 8-2 decision in the semifinals to Domino, Oak Park senior Tristan Supernaw qualified for state for the first time after a 7-0 victory against Lee’s Summit North’s Paden Cole and a 3-1 sudden victory against Park Hill South sophomore Dylan Taylor in the third-place match.

“I love them all. They are my brothers,” Supernaw said of his teammates’ excitement after they saw he qualified for state. “The best thing about it is all the bonds I created with my teammates. They are dear to my heart.”

State qualifiers:

1st: Hunter Taylor, Liberty (33-0)
2nd: Michael Domino, Liberty North (34-3)
3rd: Tristan Supernaw, Oak Park (37-12)

113: No. 3-ranked Logan Burks of Staley faced off against No. 4-ranked Cooper Rider in a rematch of the district finals two weeks prior. The result was similar as Burks once again took first after a 5-2 victory over Rider.

After falling 10-2 to Burks in the semifinals, Liberty North’s James Lovelady took third after edging out North’s Charlie Dykes in the consolation semifinals 3-2 and he went on to beat Park Hill senior Josef Moreno 8-0 in the consolation finals.

“I was really ready for Moreno, I wrestled him three times before,” Lovelady said. “He beat me twice before, so I went out there for revenge.”

State qualifiers:

1st: Logan Burks, Staley (26-3)
2nd: Cooper Rider, Liberty (29-3)
3rd; James Lovelady, Liberty North (30-8)

120: After losing to Liberty freshman Christopher Coates, ranked No. 1, in the semifinals of districts two weeks ago, Park Hill junior Cael Keck, ranked No. 3, got revenge. He edged out Coates 1-0 in the semifinals and went on to pin Staley’s Andy Lipp with a cradle to take first.

“I trained super hard all week and the week before,” Keck said. “I knew we (himself and Keck) are pretty good on our feet and we were waiting for someone to make a mistake. I knew after no one scored in the first, I could ride him out.”

Coates went on to take third after pinning Blue Springs South’s Dan Hampton in the consolation finals.

State qualifiers:

1st: Cael Keck, Park Hill (31-6)
2nd: Andy Lipp, Staley (26-13)
3rd: Christopher Coates, Liberty (31-2)

126: Liberty junior Easton Hilton went through a tough road to capture first in his weight division. He earned a 11-2 decision over No. 4-ranked Cayden Dotson of Blue Springs before getting a 13-6 victory over Staley’s Jacob Windsor in the finals.

Dotson recovered to take third defeating Seth Hooper of North by fall and winning against Oak Park’s Colton Tunstill 6-0 in the championship.

“It’s not the way I wanted to qualify, I wanted to get to the finals.” Dotson said. “But we are going to the tournament that matters to wrestle matches that matter. I want to come out with a state title there.”

State qualifiers:

1st: Easton Hilton, Liberty (31-1)
2nd: Jacob Windsor, Staley (29-5)
3rd: Cayden Dotson, Blue Springs (18-5)

132: Korbin Shepherd rolled to first place in his weight class after getting a tech fall in the quarterfinals and pins in the semifinals and championship, the latter coming in 33 seconds against Liberty junior Jude Axsom via cradle.

“I don’t like letting people get to my legs and he got to them,” Shepherd said of his match with Axsom. “That’s going to bother me for the rest of the night. It was nice practice.”

“Physically I am good to go and I feel good two weeks before I wrestle at Cable Dahmer Arena.”

Liberty North’s Joseph Knight took third after defeating Staley’s Austin Marrah 10-1 in the third-place match.

State qualifiers:

1st: Korbin Shepherd, Blue Springs (29-0)
2nd: Jude Axsom, Liberty (20-5)
3rd: Joseph Knight, Liberty North (27-12)

138: Unranked Trey Robinson of Lee’s Summit North gave No. 1-ranked Kage Lenger of Liberty a tough match but ultimately fell 9-4 in the championship match. Robinson defeated Liberty North’s Dylan Alft 8-2 in the semifinals to make it to the final round.

“I knew he was going to be a tough match,” Robinson said of Lenger. “We had a match earlier in the year and he won by three points. I knew I could wrestle with him. He came out ready to wrestle.”

Alft ended up taking third after getting a 14-0 major decision over Blue Springs senior Jason Gross.

State qualifiers:

1st: Kage Lenger, Liberty (30-3)
2nd: Trey Robinson, Lee’s Summit North (31-9)
3rd: Dylan Alft, Liberty North (28-10)

145: No. 2-ranked Ethan Miller of Park Hill got some retribution in the finals of his weight class. At districts, Miller landed on his neck after a takedown attempt from No. 1 ranked Kyle Dutton of Liberty. Miller remained motionless for several minutes before he was eventually carried out of Liberty High School on a stretcher by a local EMS team.

He didn’t end up having any serious injuries and was able to get a rematch against Dutton in the finals of the Sectional 4 Tournament. The match reached a 2-2 ultimate tiebreaker and Miller was able to ride out Dutton for 30 seconds to pick up the win.

“I got knocked out, but I didn’t have a concussion or nothing like that,” Miller said. “I just had to do some light workouts for the first week. It was basically light biking, then the third day was drilling and stuff like that. By Day 4 and 5, I was able to practice in full.”

North senior Javi Gutierrez will make his first state appearance of his career in two weeks as he took third after beating Jase Mansfield 12-4 and Thomas Schrader 6-2 in the consolation bracket.

State qualifiers:

1st: Ethen Miller, Park Hill (26-1)
2nd: Kyle Dutton, Liberty (30-3)
3rd: Javi Gutierrez, Lee’s Summit North (30-9)

152: Park Hill junior Kal Miller, ranked No. 1, just seems to have the number of No. 2-ranked Logan Rathjen of Liberty. Miller beat Rathjen last year to win the state title, defeated the Liberty junior at district this season and got another win over him at sectionals, this time it was a 5-1 decision.

Oak Park senior Logan Linard had one last shot to make state and he made the most of it. He beat Liberty North’s Nathan Sola 5-0 in the consolation finals to punch his ticket to Cable Dahmer Arena.

“All the work I ever did paid off,” Linard said. “I barely squeaked through and I couldn’t be happier. I wrestled that kid at districts (Sola) and only beat him by one point. I knew it was going to be a tough match, but I just made a game plan for the last two weeks and squeaked out the win.”

State qualifiers:

1st: Kal Miller, Park Hill (30-0)
2nd: Logan Rathjen, Liberty (29-5)
3rd: Logan Linard, Oak Park (25-14)

160: No. 5 ranked Jaxson McIntyre of Blue Springs gave No. 3 ranked David Brooks a run for his money in the title bout but fell 9-5. The Blue Springs junior will make his third trip to state as will Brooks.

“I got two weeks to improve for state,” McIntyre said. “I am closing the gap. I am going to keep practicing to get up there with him and other opponents like him.”

Liberty junior Jeremiah Halter lost in the semifinals to McIntyre 17-4 but bounced back with a 16-3 decision in the consolation semifinals and a 13-1 victory in the consolation finals over Karl Knaack of Oak Park.

State qualifiers:

1st: David Brooks, Staley (36-3)
2nd: Jaxson McIntyre, Blue Springs (29-5)
3rd: Jeremiah Halter, Liberty (26-10)

170: After missing out on state last season, Oak Park senior Paul Hernandez , ranked No. 3,has been on a roll for the 2020-21 campaign. He improved to 44-1 after defeating No. 5-ranked Jacob Lynn of Liberty 5-4 in the finals.

“It feels awesome, especially knowing I will have a first-round bye. That’s going to help me a lot,” Hernandez said. “I just got to get into my head and take it match by match.

“(Lynn) came prepared. It was a lot more difficult to get to my ties and underhooks.”

After losing four matches to Blue Springs South sophomore Zander Dombrowski earlier in the season, Liberty North sophomore Trevor Thorn finally topped the Jaguar in a 1-0 victory in the consolation finals.

State qualifiers:

1st: Paul Hernandez, Oak Park (44-1)
2nd: Jacob Lynn, Liberty (9-3)
3rd: Trevor Thorn, Liberty North (25-13)

182: No. 1-ranked Wentric Williams III had a rematch with Staley freshman Dai’Mont Mucker, ranked No. 4. The two faced each other at districts, with Williams coming out on top. The result was the same at sectionals as Williams pinned Mucker in the finals to take first.

Oak Park junior Lucas Oitker will be going to state for the first time. After he lost by tech fall to Williams in the semifinals, he defeated Joe Engle in the consolation semifinals 14-2 before getting a pin over South’s Evan Theilen in the third-place bout.

“I am at a loss for words. All my hard work is paying off, Oitker said. “I wrestled my best (in the third-place match). I really wanted to pin him.”

State qualifiers:

1st: Wentric Williams III, Liberty (33-2)
2nd: Dai’Mont Mucker (21-5)
3rd: Lucas Oitker, Oak Park (33-10)

195: No. 5-ranked Chris Bizzle of Park Hill gutted out a 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker win over No. 2-ranked Aaron Barnhill of Lee’s Summit North before falling to No. 4-ranked Jack Horn of Liberty by first-period pin in the finals, falling short of pulling off two upsets in one night.

“With all of the training that I have done, I think I deserve it,” Bizzle said of earning a No. 2 seed at state. “I wish I would have got first, but I have two weeks to prepare.”

“I lost to (Barhill) three or four times last year. I wanted to try something different because I hate losing to the same people over and over. I worked hard, lifted and listened to my coaches and got a (win).”

After his loss to Bizzle, Barhill rebounded to take third after earning narrow victories of 4-2 and 10-7, with the latter coming against Staley’s Jack Stoffel.

State qualifiers:

1st: Jack Horn, Liberty (30-2)
2nd: Chris Bizzle, Park Hill (29-9)
3rd: Aaron Barnhill, Lee’s Summit North (31-3)

220: The Xavier Doolin, ranked No. 1, train seems to be an unstoppable locomotive that can’t be derailed. He earned all first-period pins, including one in seven seconds in the quarterfinals and one in 28 seconds in the finals against South’s Tommy LaPour to take first.

Blue Springs junior Dom Howlett, who won only five varsity matches last season while bouncing between varsity and junior varsity, is having a much-improved season in 2020-21. He improved to 24-11 after beating Lee’s Summit North senior Owen Moore in the third-place match.

“Last year, I was on and off (junior varsity),” Howelett said. “I really wasn’t that good to be honest. I put the work in during spring and summer. Even though spring was cancelled, I went to the room to practice. When Mo West opened up,in the summer, I went and got my butt kicked every single day.”

State qualifiers:

1st: Xavier Doolin, North Kansas City (40-0)
2nd: Tommy LaPour, Blue Springs South (29-11)
3rd: Dom Howlett, Blue Springs (24-11)

285: Liberty junior Jeremiah Cubuyaban is ranked No. 1 for a reason. He proved why when he earned one forfeit victory and two by pin, including one in the second period against No. 5 ranked Brock Sullivan of Blue Springs.

Sullivan will be making his second trip to state.

“This year I improved, I got second,” Sullivan said. “Next year it will be first.”

North junior Trevor Taylor will be making his first trip to state after he finished third. He was pinned by Cubuyaban in the semifinals but he won both of his consolation matches, with the last one being a pin in 1:32 against South’s Callen Smithpeter.