For a group of four wrestlers in the Northland, success on the mat has stretched beyond the state of Missouri. It's reaching the national level.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Park Hill juniors Ke-Shawn Hayes and Colston DiBlasi, Kearney senior Grant Leeth and Platte County sophomore Matt Schmitt, have earned national rankings in the latest FloWrestling.com poll.
Hayes, who was featured in The Star last week, is ranked No. 1 in the country in the 126-pound weight class. He is unbeaten for Park Hill this season after having won the Missouri Class 4 state championship at 113 pounds last season.
Leeth sits at No. 6 at 145 pounds for Keaney. He is gunning for a third consecutive Class 3 state championship, trying to follow in the footsteps of Jaret Singh, who accomplished the same feat last season.
DiBlasi is ranked No. 14 in the 152-pound class as a Park Hill junior. He won the Missouri Class 4 state title in the same weight class last season, upsetting previously-unbeaten Cain Salas of Blue Springs in the championship match. The Trojans also won the team championship in Class 4.
Schmitt is ranked 13th in the 106-pound class for Platte County. He finished second in the same division in Class 3 last season as a freshman, losing 1-0 in the final to Chandler Fohey of Hannibal.
The FloWrestling.com poll is considered the most reputable among the national polls.
Baseball polls released
The Staley Falcons reached the Missouri Class 5 state baseball tournament last spring for the first time in the school's five-year history.
After pitching his team into the state semifinals, Austin White said the Falcons were relishing their chance to play the underdog role.
It appears Staley will assume that role once again this spring. The Falcons are unranked in the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll.
Liberty North, the only Class 5 team in the Northland to crack the poll, is ranked 10th. The Eagles had a 16-6 record last season. Blue Springs South (No. 1), Lee's Summit West (No. 3) and Rockhurst (No. 5) are also ranked in Class 5.
West Platte figures to be a favorite to reach the Class 2 state baseball tournament a second straight season. The Blue Jays are ranked second in the preseason poll, behind No. 1 Hartville.
The same two teams played for the Class 2 state championship last season. West Platte lost 4-3 to Hartville after allowing two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. West Platte finished the season with a 22-2 record.
Smithville is No. 6 in the Class 4 poll. The Warriors went 14-6 last spring. Excelsior Springs is No. 9 in the same poll.
The first in-season poll is scheduled to be released March 31.