Before he even stepped onto the mat for his senior season, Park Hill wrestler Ke-Shawn Hayes had already accomplished every goal he had set for his high school career.
An individual state championship (twice). A team title (twice). An undefeated season. A national No. 1 ranking.
What was left?
“This being my last year, I just really wanted to leave a mark,” Hayes said. “We talked all year about trying to make history — trying to be the first team to win three in a row.”
He crossed that goal off the list, too.
Park Hill captured its third straight Missouri Class 4 team championship, and Hayes won his third straight individual title, the latest coming at 138 pounds. Hayes, The Star’s All-Metro wrestler of the year, finished the season a perfect 38-0.
Ironically enough, it was a loss before the high school season began that provided his individual motivation. Hayes lost his No. 1 national ranking on FloWrestling.com when he dropped a decision to Blair (N.J.) wrestler Matt Kolodzik, who promptly took over the top spot, dropping Hayes to fourth.
But after completing his second consecutive undefeated high school season — with a third state title, of course — Hayes moved back to No. 2. He had only one match decided by fewer than five points in his senior season, and he won all but seven via pin or technical fall.
“I honestly felt like I was a little under-prepared for that match,” said Hayes, who will attend Ohio State on a wrestling scholarship. “I didn’t do everything I needed to do to be successful, obviously. After that happened, my plan was to treat every match like it was my most important match of the year.”
The Star’s All-Metro wrestling team
Connor Brown, Oak Grove, sophomore. The two-time Missouri Class 2 state champion finished 49-0, won the KC Stampede and tied a school record with 39 pins this season.
Conner Ward, Mill Valley, freshman. His second-place finish in Kansas Class 5A helped the Jaguars to their first team medal. He finished 40-3 and picked up a victory against the Class 4A state champion from Bonner Springs in the regular season.
Dakota Miller, Odessa, junior. After settling for third place last season, Miller returned to the top of the Missouri Class 2 podium for the second time. He went 52-2 and won four regular season tournaments.
Matthew Schmitt, Platte County, junior. He breezed to a second straight Missouri Class 3 championship at the state tournament and finished the season with 37 straight victories. He was 48-2.
Zak Hensley, St. James Academy, senior. He lost just three times to out-out-of town opponents at the KC Stampede and won the Kansas Class 5A state title. He finished with a 49-3 record for the state’s second-place team.
Ke-Shawn Hayes, Park Hill, senior.
The nation’s second-ranked wrestler was a perfect 38-0 en route to his third straight Class 4 state title. The Ohio State signee had only one match decided by fewer than five points.
Ethan Karsten, Platte County, junior. The No. 20-ranked wrestler in the nation won his second straight Missouri Class 3 state title. He was 52-3, with all three losses against wrestlers ranked among the top nine nationally.
Canten Marriott, Park Hill, junior.
A shoulder injury stalled the start of his season, but Marriott still finished 34-0 and won the Missouri Class 4 state title, defeating previously-unbeaten Keegan McCormick in the process.
Clay Lautt, St. James Academy, sophomore. The Kansas Class 5A state champion went 42-9 with titles at the Gardner Edgerton Invitational and Allen Outlaw Tournament in Texas. Four of his losses came against the Class 6A 160- and 170-pound state champions.
Colston DiBlasi, Park Hill, senior. The three-time Missouri Class 4 state champion was 47-2, with both losses coming by one point at the Walsh Ironman in Ohio. An Iowa State signee, DiBlasi also won a title at the prestigious KC Stampede.
Emilio Fowler, Olathe North, senior. After transferring from Gardner Edgerton, Fowler broke through for his first Kansas Class 6A state title. He finished with a 48-0 record and his third top-five finish at the state tournament.
Caleb Ward, Lansing, senior. Ward’s only two losses of the season came against the first- and third-place finishers in Kansas Class 5A. He split the two placed second at state with a 37-2 record.
Ben Ewing, St. Thomas Aquinas, senior. Although he fell just short of a perfect season, Ewing picked up his third top-three finish in the last three years at the state tournament, where he placed second in Kansas Class 5A with a 26-1 record.
Tomasi Tuione, William Chrisman, senior. The third-place finisher at the Missouri Class 4 state tournament was 43-2 with 31 pins. He won four regular season tournaments and was a district champion.