COLUMBIA — Blue Springs senior Daniel Lewis says he didn’t deal with losing well when he began wrestling in elementary school. He pouted. He complained. Then he worked to get better.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
And that led him to a rather obvious solution.
“As soon I started to win a couple of matches, it just kept driving me,” Lewis said. “I knew I would never get used to losing, but I could get used to winning.”
It’s become second nature.
Lewis improved to 44-0 with a pair of wins Friday at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena.
Lewis will wrestle for the Class 4 state championship at 160 pounds Saturday. If he’s successful, Lewis would become only the second wrestler in state history to win four individual titles at four different weight classes.
Oak Park senior Noah Teaney can accomplish the same feat when he wrestles for the Class 3 132-pound title Saturday.
Park Hill eyes repeat
The Park Hill Trojans are back on top. Barely.
In their quest to defend the Class 4 state championship, the Trojans used the second day of the three-day tournament to move up the standings. They have totaled 108 points, giving them a narrow lead over Rock Bridge (105) and Timberland (101).
Park Hill put four wrestlers in championship bouts — Sean Hosford (120), Ke-Shawn Hayes (126), John Erneste (132) and Colston DiBlasi (152).
Hosford pulled out the most dramatic win of the group Friday, scoring on an escape with nine seconds left to win his semifinal match 1-0.
“It was a little nerve-wracking at that point with the time (ticking). I’m just trying to get away,” Hosford said. “Thank goodness I did.”
Hosford, Hayes and DiBlasi each won state titles last season.
Kearney senior rolling
The finality of it all hit Kearney senior Grant Leeth three days ago. After a high school career that includes 203 victories — more than any other wrestler in school history — only one tournament remains.
“I thought about it at the last practice and I got pretty upset,” Leeth said. “I’ve been trying to keep that out of my mind. “But winning (state) would be a good way to go out.”
He’s one match away from making it happen. Leeth will try for a third straight state championship when he wrestles Staley junior Jordan Steward for the Class 3 152-pound title.
Neosho leads the Class 3 team race with 164.5 points, followed by Staley (139.5), Kearney (104) and Platte County (96.5).
Oak Grove adding to history
Before departing for Mizzou Arena, Oak Grove coach Bobbe Lowe gathered his team together in the hotel and delivered a few parting thoughts. Among them, Lowe assured his wrestlers they were in better shape than any other team.
Freshman Connor Brown is starting to believe it.
Brown won his Class 2 106-pound semifinal bout Friday by preventing St. Charles West sophomore Drew Ditter from escaping in the final two minutes. Brown prevailed 7-6.
“He was stalling, so I knew he was tired,” Brown said. “I still had enough juice in the tank to go out there and beat him.”
Oak Grove took the lead in the Class 2 race with 131 points. Smithville is second with 115.5.
Bryce Mercer (145), Landon Cairer (152) and Dalton Brinegar (170) are also in finals matches for Oak Grove.
In the record books
While Smithville senior Dalton Tipton wants to finish out his high school career with a state title, he reached another milestone along the way. Tipton broke a state record with his 42nd pin of the year in the semifinals of his Class 2 152-pound match.
All four semifinalists in the bracket came from the Kansas City district. Tipton will face Oak Grove’s Cairer in the finals.
Blue Springs senior Michael Pixley (195 pounds, Class 4), Staley senior Bailey Sutko (285, Class 3), and Lawson senior Austen Eskew (220, Class 1) can end their high school careers with a second consecutive state title Saturday.