COLUMBIA — Oak Park senior Bradley Perkins needs no reminders of the obstacles that made his high school wrestling journey a little more challenging.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
But he has a couple of permanent ones in the form of scars on both of his shoulders.
The one that marks his left shoulder — where he had surgery to repair a torn labrum, costing him his entire sophomore season — is particularly blemished. Each time he steps onto the mat, his wrestling singlet exposes the 3-inch gash.
“It’s pretty gnarly,” he said proudly. “Don’t you think?”
If anything, it made his climb to the top of the podium Saturday at Mizzou Arena feel that much better.
Despite enduring two shoulder surgeries over the past three years, Perkins finished his high school career undefeated with an 8-4 decision against Hannibal’s Tyler Janes to win the 126-pound bracket of the Class 3 Missouri Wrestling Championships.
It was Perkins’ third state championship, and he concluded his career with a 91-0 mark.
“It hasn’t always been smooth, but it’s something I’m proud of,” said Perkins, who will wrestle at Harvard next year. “Although I didn’t get four (championships), which was the goal, I went out and competed every single match. In the end, that’s what it takes.”
He shares that distinguished title — three-time champion — with three other area wrestlers who won first-place medals for the third time Saturday. His teammate, Noah Teaney, won the Class 3 120-pound bracket, Blue Springs’ Daniel Lewis won Class 4 at 138 pounds and Kearney senior Jaret Singh ended his high school career with a technical fall in the 113-pound bracket of Class 3.
A scary thought: Lewis still has one season left. He is the only junior in that three-time winner group.
“I’ve been imagining this for a long time,” Lewis said. “So when it happens, I expect it. Next year, I’ll be a four-timer. It’s just what I expect out of myself.”
Park Hill impresses
For the first two days of the tournament, Park Hill wrestlers stuck to the company line.
“Team first, individual honors second,” they repeated.
On Saturday, the Trojans got a little greedy. Sean Hosford (106 pounds), Ke-Shawn Hayes (113) and Colston DiBlasi (152) made the Trojans a perfect 3-0 in finals matches, capping a day in which Park Hill clinched the Class 4 team championship, besting second-place Blue Springs by 32 points.
After Park Hill clinched the team title, DiBlasi helped widen the gap, pulling off one of the day’s biggest upsets. He defeated previously-unbeaten Cain Salas of Blue Springs, 5-1, in the championship match.
“That wasn’t easy,” DiBlasi said. “I knew if I got physical from the get-go, I could finish and end up winning the match.”
Kearney and Neosho tie
Even when things looked bleak and Kearney trailed Neosho by more than 30 points Friday, Singh promised the Bulldogs weren’t done quite yet.
Turns out, he was right. Well, kind of.
Kearney tied Neosho for the Class 3 team state championship with 152 points apiece. It’s only the third tie in the history of the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships. Both teams will be awarded a state championship.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” said junior Grant Leeth, who won at 145 pounds. “We kind of won.
“But with eight (qualifiers) versus their 13, I think we have to be happy with that.”
Singh, Leeth and Kevin Kinney (138 pounds) won individual titles, giving the Bulldogs a four-point lead. But Neosho 220-pounder Christian Lopez pulled his team even with an overtime win to close out the tournament.
After the tournament, the two teams’ coaching staffs flipped a quarter, and Kearney took home the trophy.
Oak Grove rolls to title
Tyler Brown thinks he was 4 years old when he first walked into Oak Grove High School and noticed a wall honoring every wrestling state champion in the school’s history.
By no coincidence, the first goal of his wrestling career was to join those names.
He accomplished that Saturday, winning the 126-pound bracket in the Class 2 division.
“I’d go in and look at that plaque every day,” Brown said. “One of my dreams was to put my name on that. It’s such an amazing feeling now that I did.”
A couple of his teammates are adding their names, too. Anthony Barker (138) and Logan Cairer (145) also won state championships, part of a celebratory day for Oak Grove, which ran away with the Class 2 team title.
Hawklet makes his mark
A week ago, Rockhurst senior Drew Daniels lost only his second match of the season. He was beaten by Blue Springs South senior Austin Eads in the Class 4, District 4 championship.
As a reminder, Daniels carried the silver medal with him everywhere he went for the next week. He called it his motivation.
Whatever it takes.
Daniels bounced back to win the Class 4, 160-pound bracket to become the first state champion in Rockhurst High School history.
“I think it means more to be the first — I’m making history,” Daniels said. “It feels really good. I worked hard for it.”
Several other area wrestlers finished the year with first-place medals.
Most impressively, Center heavyweight Maliek Collins, a Nebraska football recruit, and Blue Springs’ Michael Pixley (182) finished the season undefeated with pins in their championship matches.
In Class 3, Staley heavyweight Bailey Sutko took first place.
In Class 2, Odessa crowned two champions — Dakota Miller (106) and Levi Turley (170). And Excelsior Springs’ Brennan Johnson won at 152 pounds.
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.