The Missouri high school wrestling state championships will take place Thursday-Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
1. Elite status
Nearly 900 wrestlers have qualified for the state tournament across the four classes.
Only one of them will wrestle for his fourth state championship.
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Oak Grove senior Connor Brown is a three-time champion who hasn’t lost a match since his freshman season. He is 43-0 this year and will compete in the Class 2 120-pound bracket.
Add to that, Oak Grove has won 16 state titles in program history — tied for the most in state history.
2. The battle for Class 4
Park Hill has had a stranglehold on the Class 4 team race with four consecutive state championships.
The march for No. 5 could be an uphill climb. Park Hill does not have a defending state champion in its lineup this week.
The Trojans’ stiffest competition might come from a familiar foe. Staley has qualified wrestlers in 13 of the 14 weight classes, led by 195-pound Zach Elam, who is 49-1.
3. Smithville’s quest for back-to-back
Last February, Smithville won the first wrestling state championship in school history when it upended Oak Grove in Class 2.
After a move up to Class 3 this season, the Warriors will lean on a pair of returning state champions — Blake Ackerman (103 pounds) and Jacob Boyd (195) — to help them compete for another title. Boyd is 48-2 this season.
Smithville qualified nine wrestlers for the tournament.
4. The nation’s best
Six local wrestlers will take a national ranking into the tournament, according to FloWrestling.com.
Brown (120 pounds) is No. 6 in the nation. Rockhurst senior Colin Valdiviez (132) is ranked 16th. Liberty freshman Jeremiah Reno (106) is No. 18. Oak Grove sophomore Tyler Curd (220) is No. 19.
Boyd and Elam are are both ranked nationally at 195 pounds, at No. 11 and 14, respectively.
5. Defending champs
While none will have the ability of matching Brown’s feat of four straight titles this weekend, eight wrestlers from the Kansas City area will attempt to defend their championships.
Brown, Elam, Boyd, Ackerman, Rockhurst twin brothers Cameron and Colin Valdiviez, Platte County junior Cody Phippen and Kearney junior Clayton Singh comprise that list.