An electric signboard over the southeast entryway to the Mizzou Area floor clearly marked where wrestlers and coaches were supposed to exit after their matches. Kearney’s Clayton Singh took a detour after making some history Saturday night.
Singh became the 27th wrestler in the history of the Missouri state tournament to win four championships when he pinned Grain Valley’s Trent Starr in the Class 3 120-pound weight class final. Instead of heading for the exit, Singh headed up into the bleachers and into the large gathering of Kearney faithful just above the mat.
It was how he intended to savor the moment if it came.
“I planned that out,” Singh said. “I’ve got to go see my momma. She’s the best thing in my life.”
Singh hugged and was hugged by most of the Bulldogs fans before he made his way back down on the floor. His time with the fans lasted considerably longer than his time on the mat.
Singh, who had just wrestled and beaten Starr the week before in the district tournament, scored a takedown seconds into the match and never let up. He quickly had Starr on his back and finished the pin with just over a minute still left in the first period.
This is the second straight year a four-year champion has been crowned at state. Conner Brown of Oak Grove completed the feat last year.
And he’s not the only one to do it this year. Whitfield’s Michael McAteer became the 28th four-time champion when he won the Class 1 126-pound title shortly after Singh’s match. Malik Johnson of Christian Brothers College became No. 29 with his Class 4 126 crown.
Nos. 30 and 31 came from Father Tolton Catholic: Brock Mauller (Class 1 152) and Jarrett Jaques (Class 1 160).
Singh didn’t mind sharing the moment.
“It’s history, baby,” Singh said. “I dreamed of being a four-timer since my eighth-grade year. I just worked hard every single day and pushed for it and it’s here.”
Two perfect years for Campbell
Brett Campbell of Summit Christian Academy ended his career as a two-time state champion. Make that a two-time undefeated state champion.
Campell finished his 58-0 season with a hard-fought 7-3 victory over William Boldt of Whitfield in the Class 1 220-pound final. Campbell, who went unbeaten winning the Class 1 182-pound title as a junior, concluded his high school career with 115 straight victories.
“It feels great knowing I haven’t lost in two years,” Campbell said. “I just want to thank the Lord, my school and everyone who pushed me.”
More perfect champions
Jeremiah Reno of Liberty won a state title as a freshmen. This year, he finished as a perfect champion.
Reno capped a 43-0 season with an 11-3 major decision over Kobin Shepherd of Blue Springs in the Class 4 106-pound final. Even if the first one wasn’t perfect, Reno said it still held more meaning.
“They both feel great, but the freshman one was my first year in high school,” Reno said.
Zach Elam of Staley finished his 54-0 season with by pinning Logan Wells of Lindberg in the Class 4 220 final. It was the third state title for Elam.
A three-time champ
Cody Phippen of Platte County became a three-time state champion when he claimed the Class 3 126 title. Phippen, a senior, won a 9-1 major decision over Grain Valley’s Caleb Benshoof and finished the year 53-3.
Platte County also had a champion in Sage Smart, who pinned Nick Kruse of Harrisonville in the Class 3 220 final.
Belton three for three
Belton had never had a two-time state wrestling champion before. Now it has two.
Andrew Gamble and Robert Weber became two time champs in back-to-back matches. Gamble needed a takedown to score a 3-1 sudden victory over Jarrett Villinger of Warrenton in the Class 3 160 final. Weber made quick work of Pacific’s James Anding in the 170 final, winning with a first-round pin.
Gamble and Weber ended a three-for-three championship round for the Pirates. Joe Biondo won a 4-2 decision over Ben Courtney of Pacific in the Class 3 152 title.
Other local champions
▪ Ryan Hampton of Smithville won the Class 3 145-pound championship. Hampton, a sophomore, won a 6-2 decision over Kearney’s Coby Aebersold in the final.
▪ Josh Steele of Park Hill won the Class 4 145-pound championship. Steele beat Corey Wait of Francis Howell Central 14-6 for the title.
▪ Bret Heil of Blue Springs won the Class 4 160 title with a 2-1 decision over Greyden Penner of Liberty.
▪ Brian Boyd of Smithville won the Class 3 195 title with a 4-2 decision over Brett Mordecai of Kearney.
▪ Tyler Curd of Oak Grove pinned Gabe Rumbaoa of Boonville in the Class 2 220 final.
Kearney won a close race for the Class 3 team championship, edging runner-up Neosho 161-158.5. Platte County was third with 110.5 points and Smithville fourth with 102.
Park Hill placed second in the Class 4 with 142 points. Christian Brothers College was first with 155.5. Staley was third with 118.