COLUMBIA — Blue Springs senior Daniel Lewis never opened the suggestion box, but the ideas came flying anyway. They wanted to see him perform a backflip, a somersault, perhaps a few other demonstrations to properly celebrate this achievement.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
He settled on one last week and put it into action Saturday.
Lewis became the 23rd four-time wrestling state champion in Missouri history, pinning Ritenour senior Tyron Welch in the first period for the Class 4 160-pound title.
His celebration choice? The backflip.
The Mizzou Arena crowd responded with a standing ovation.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I was absorbing all the hype and celebrating. It felt great.”
Lewis, who will attend MU, finished undefeated for the second straight season while becoming the second wrestler in state history to win in four different weight classes.
Platte County sophomore Ethan Karsten has a win on his resume that few others have duplicated. A year ago, he defeated three-time state champion Noah Teaney, a senior from Oak Park, in a district semifinal match.
The accomplishment, however, lost some of its luster when even his teammates told him it was a bit of a fluke.
There was no fluke this time.
Karsten defeated Teaney 4-2 in overtime in the Class 3 132-pound bracket, denying Teaney an opportunity to become a four-time state champion.
“I came in with nothing to lose,” Karsten said. “Why not? The whole crowd expects you to lose.”
Another Park Hill trophy
Standing in the tunnel a few seconds before his match, Park Hill junior Colston DiBlasi began doing some math in his head. It didn’t take him long to figure out what it would take for Park Hill to win its second straight Class 4 state title.
“If I win, we win,” he said. “When I realized that, it wasn’t just for me anymore. I was wrestling for my teammates.”
All left satisfied.
DiBlasi won his second straight state title in the Class 4 152-pound bracket. It clinched the Trojans’ second straight team state championship.
Ke-Shawn Hayes (126 pounds) and Sean Hosford (120) also repeated as state champions.
Lee’s Summit West junior Austin Eveler called last season’s state championship result the worst feeling of his career.
This felt a little better.
A year after placing second, Eveler defeated Park Hill senior John Erneste 9-8 and won the Class 4 132-pound bracket.
“I was heartbroken last year. I have not stopped thinking about it since that day,” Eveler said. “I’ve been writing down my goals every day. It’s finally here. That’s really (sweet).”
It’s a feeling to which Kearney senior Blake Clevenger can relate. Doubly so.
Clevenger finished as the runner-up in both his sophomore and junior seasons, but he took the final step Saturday with a 5-0 decision over Platte County’s Caleb Crabtree in the Class 3 138-pound championship bout.
“I was scared and nervous, because this is where I lost twice,” Clevenger said. “I didn’t want to be that second-place kid again.”
Platte County sophomore Matthew Schmitt avoided that dreaded label, too. He defeated Staley freshman David Berryman and won the Class 3 106-pound weight class a year after taking second.
Staley senior Jayden Bears erased the same feeling Saturday, defeating Hannibal’s Colby Collings 1-0 in the Class 3 160-pound final.
Oak Grove wins again
A change in the outcome for senior Bryce Mercer equaled more of the same for the Oak Grove Panthers.
Mercer captured his first state title after three years of placing in the top five when he won the Class 3 145-pound class, and the Panthers won the 15th team championship in school history.
“It’s about time,” Mercer said.
Connor Brown (103) also won for Oak Grove, which totaled 163 team points.
Smithville placed second in Class 2 with 140.5 points. It had three individual champions: Dalton Tipton (152), Luke Sachs (182) and Chase Thomas (285).
Kearney senior Grant Leeth said the most memorable match of his high school career will always be the state championship bout he lost his freshman season.
It was also the most productive.
Leeth followed with three consecutive state championships, the last coming Saturday in the Class 3 152-pound weight class against Staley’s Jordan Steward.
“I know three titles sounds like something to celebrate, but it’s that one I lost that I’ll remember,” Leeth said. “But it’s driven me to do greater things. It catapulted me to the next level.”
Blue Springs senior Michael Pixley (195) repeated as a Class 4 champion.
Lawson senior Austen Eskew (220) repeated in Class 1.
• After placing fourth at the district tournament last week, Platte County sophomore Johnny Blankenship won the Class 3 145-pound bracket.
• Blue Springs South junior Christian Boyles (220) came from behind and won in Class 4.
• Harrisonville junior Ty Cochran (126) won in Class 2.
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to email@example.com.