Park Hill High School junior Colston DiBlasi has played the role of both underdog and heavy favorite. They resulted in entirely different outcomes.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
He played the underdog role to perfection last season, winning the 152-pound Missouri Class 4 wrestling state championship by taking out two athletes ranked above him.
As for the role of the considerable favorite, well, he’s hoping his second chance works out better than the first.
DiBlasi will take a No. 1 ranking in the 152-pound weight class into the Missouri Class 4 state championships that start Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
“My freshman year, I was supposed to win. Everybody told me I was going to win, and I believed everything I heard,” DiBlasi said. “And you know what, I got caught in the quarterfinals because I underestimated my opponent.”
While DiBlasi was a decided underdog last season — he defeated previously-unbeaten Blue Springs senior Cain Salas to win the 152-pound class — he has returned to familiar yet uneasy territory as the top seed.
DiBlasi was one of four wrestlers from Park Hill — the defending Class 4 team state champion — to win his weight class at the Class 4, District 4 meet last Saturday at Blue Springs South.
“What worked for me last year was I wrestled like I had nothing to lose,” DiBlasi said. “So that’s the same thing I’m doing this year. I know a lot of people say I’m supposed to win, but I’m going to wrestle every second like I have nothing to lose.”
DiBlasi and the Trojans have their sights set higher than individual championships. With eight state qualifiers, they believe they have a strong chance to repeat as the team state champion, too.
Timberland of Wentzville will be one of the strongest contenders.
“I feel like we can do it again,” DiBlasi said. “We’re taking the same routine. I don’t think we have any weak links of the eight (wrestlers) we’re taking. I feel like we can be really strong again this year.”
Smithville qualifies 11
As Smithville High School wrestling coach Taylor Middleton left the Missouri Class 2 state meet last season, he told his wrestlers they were beginning to close the gap on some of the state’s premiere programs.
That trend continues.
Smithville placed second at the Class 2, District 4 meet last Saturday at Excelsior Springs, finishing behind Oak Grove, the Class 2 defending state champion. And the margin was small. Oak Grove totaled 204.5 points, and Smithville had 190.
Smithville qualified 11 wrestlers for the state meet that starts Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. That supplies the Warriors with a good opportunity to improve on last season’s seventh place.
Senior Dalton Tipton at 152 pounds and sophomore Jake Bohlken at 195 take top seeds of their respective weight classes into the tournament.