As the postseason draws near for high school wrestlers, Platte County coach Reggie Burress is seeing his team round into form.
Platte County should be a state-title contender once again, and the defending Class 3 champions looked it as they captured the team title in last weekend’s Lydia’s Lights tournament at Blue Springs South. The Pirates had six finalists and three champions as they scored 438.5 team points to beat out runner-up Waynesville (407.5) and Lee’s Summit North (303.5) in the13-team, two-day tournament.
“This was a tune-up for us,” Burress said. “We’re just getting to where we need to be for districts. We’re just going iron out some of the little things we need to work on and try to get better every day.”
Platte County lost three state champions off last year’s team, but the Pirates did return one state champion in Cody Phippen and three other wrestlers with state tournament experience. There were still some big shoes to fill, and Burress has also had to deal with some injuries.
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“We had four starters out and we’re getting three of them back this week,” Burress said. “It’s going to change some of the lineup. The guys we had filling in here did a great job and helped us win, but getting those starters back will help us out.”
Platte County did have Phippen at 113 pounds, and he pinned his way through the bracket, ending with a fall against Chance Carmack of Waynesville in 54 seconds. Dakota Schmidt pinned Drake Meine of Warrenton in the 170-pound division final and Casey Jumps took the 220 title with a 5-2 decision over Warrenton’s Jacob Null, who’s ranked No. 2 in the state.
Burress was also excited about the performance of the Pirates’ other finalists. Sage Smart took second at 195 pounds, and Jason Hoegler came back from an injury layoff to place second at 145. And Matthew Knopp continued his recent upswing by reaching the 285 final, where he lost a 4-1 decision to No. 2-ranked heavyweight Jacob Booe of Joplin.
“He’s finally clicking in the last three weeks,” Burress said. “He had a big win at Kearney and now it’s just carried over.”
Burress hopes Platte County’s success can carry over to Class 3 District 4 tournament, which will be held Feb. 11 at Raytown South. The top four finishers in each weight class will move on from there to the Class 3 state tournament the following week in Columbia.
He sees no reason why the Pirates won’t compete for another state crown.
“We’re headed in the right direction especially with our younger kids,” Burress said. “Our older kids have always understood where we need to be and the younger kids are starting to understand it.”