COLUMBIA – All good things must come to an end. That includes Kansas City’s stranglehold on the state’s large class team championship trophy.
For the past two decades, a Kansas City school has claimed the Class 4/4A state team title, an impressive stretch of dominance that came to fruition thanks to the work of Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Oak Park, Staley this past year, and most notably powerhouse Park Hill, which won six state crowns in eight years from 2009 to 2016. However, Kansas City’s 19-year stranglehold on the championship trophy finally ended when Christian Brothers College held off KC’s top dogs at the 2018 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday, Feb. 17, at Mizzou Arena.
Led by four individual state champions, headlined by four-timer and future University of Missouri wrestling signee Malik Johnson (126 pounds), CBC racked up 155.5 team points to capture this year’s team title – the first by a non-Kansas City school since Oakville way back in 1998.
Still, Kansas City schools claimed two of the team trophies by finishing among the top four squads in the state. Park Hill settled for state runner-up honors with 142 points, the Trojans’ 11th all-state team finish in as many years. Staley, the 2017 state champion, placed third with 118 points. Blue Springs (sixth with 95 points) and Liberty (seventh with 73.5) also produced solid results.
All told, Kansas City wrestlers brought home 25 individual state medals by placing sixth or better in their weight classes. Eleven of those competed in the state finals Saturday night, and four of them returned home as champions.
Here are the highlights from each weight division and a listing of every state medalist from the Kansas City area:
106: For all intents and purposes Liberty’s Jeremiah Reno and Blue Springs’ Korbin Shepherd have been the top large-class lightweights in the state all season long, and that turned out to be the case at the state tournament as well.
And for the third time in as many tries this season, Reno held Shepherd at bay. Ranked as the No. 2 106-pounder in the entire country by Intermat, Reno dominated the state championship match to the tune of an 11-3 major decision. Reno defeated Shepherd by a 7-2 decision in the District 4 championship match one week earlier and also claimed a 6-2 decision in the first head-to-head meeting at the Winnetonka Invitational in January.
Reno completed an undefeated state championship season in the 106-pound weight class for the second year in a row. He finished 43-0 this year after going 44-0 as a freshman.
Both wrestlers plowed through the competition early in the tournament.