By Michael Smith
The Van Horn wrestling team typically flies under the radar when compared to other squads in the Kansas City Area.
In Class 3, it’s often Smithville, Grain Valley and Kearney that make the most noise in the area. This season, Van Horn is proving it can compete with some of the best teams. That was apparent when the Falcons faced off against Kearney and Raytown South in a tri dual Tuesday.
Not only did the Falcons blowout the Cardinals 63-6, they pulled off a 39-33 upset of Kearney, a team ranked No. 6 in the MissouriWrestling.com poll. Kearney defeated Raytown South 66-18.
“Coming into this, we had high hopes,” Van horn senior 126-pounder Ethan Moses said. “It’s not like we haven’t beat good teams. We took out Grain Valley earlier, we beat Oak Park earlier this year.
“We’re here to make a statement as a team. Van Horn is not just a small Class 3 team anymore. We can compete with the best.”
Coming in, Van Horn coach Craig Addison said he felt like his team had a good shot at knocking off the Bulldogs.
“We wanted to make a statement,” Addison said. “We have beat state ranked teams like Oak Park, Grain Valley and Kearney. I told them we are reaching the summit. We have a chance to achieve things that this program has never achieved this year.”
Moses, a three-time state qualifier, was a big part of the victory as he got two pins in 22 seconds in both of his matches.
“I knew we needed to keep morale up against Kearney so I went out there and got a quick win,”’ Moses said of his match against JP Filger. “I wanted to keep the winning spirit up.”
Demarcus Penson (145) certainly helped Van Horn keep momentum in his match. He fell behind early 5-0 before getting a quick several and a first-period pin of Brock Mills.
“It’s very huge,” Addison said. “If (Penson) doesn’t win that match, we don’t win the dual. That’s what Demarcus does. He’s an explosive wrestler and he can turn it around at any point in the match. He is never out of it with his style of wrestling.”
Neither is freshman Darius Paige, who has proven he has what it takes to be one of the top wrestlers in Class 3. He improved to 12-0 with a 7-3 decision over Kearney’s Trenden Rogers and a 7-2 win over Raytown South’s Norman Schneider.
“I felt like I could have done a lot better,” Paige said. “I need to work on my cardio, so I can actually beat the people I know I can beat.”
Added Addison: “He’s beat a couple of ranked kids and the sky’s the limit for him. He works very hard and he’s another kid I am extremely proud of.”
Other Falcon wins against Kearney included Chandler Seavers (160/170) getting a second-period pin against Jacob Jackson, breaking a 4-4 tie; CJ Wilson (182) getting a third-period pin against Cameron Emmons; Keanu Sua (195) pinning Brennan Cole in 3:12 and Pashall Gonzalez (113) winning by forfeit.
Van Horn won two out of three contested matches against the Cardinals, which include the wins by Paige and Moses. Sua, Mason Igou (285), Tre’Vaughn Chambers (106), Gonzalez, Steven Campos (132), Penson, Chandler Tompkins (152), Austin Evans (170) and Wilson all won by forfeit against South.
Kearney’s wins against Van Horn included Tucker Black winning by forfeit; Zach Olson earning a 2-1 decision over Igou; Ethan McMullen (106) pinning Chambers in 3:52; Joey Purdue (132) edging Steven Campos 6-5; Eli Aashcroft (138) won by forfeit; Ben Locke (152) pinning Chandler Thompkins in 16 seconds and Will Locke (160) Austin Evans in 19 seconds.
“We had a couple of matches that we should not have lost tonight,” Will Locke said. “We will go into the practice room and fix that. We’ll be ready for the next dual.”
Added Ben Locke: “We were missing a couple of weights. The dual shouldn’t have been that close. Definitely didn’t expect that.”
Against the Cardinals, McMullen, Rogers, Purdue, Ashcroft, Gary Jacobs (145), Ben Locke, Will Locke, Jackson, Emmons, Cole, Black and Olsen all won by forfeit.
Raytown South only had three active wrestlers. Marek Redding (160) was the most successful Cardinal as he earned two pins. Marcus Wilson (126) earned a pin in 1:13 over Kearney’s Gage Green.