The state-qualifying wrestling tournament has provided some of the more regrettable moments for Blue Springs South senior Cole West. It’s a place where he has often found excuses but very few answers.
With one final opportunity in front of him Saturday, West promised to approach the Missouri Class 4, District 4 tournament with a new attitude this season — one that included no excuses.
He didn’t need any.
After stumbling at the district tournament each of the past two seasons, West sidestepped a pitfall Saturday and won the 285-pound district championship, qualifying for next week’s Missouri state tournament.
“I gave up last year,” West said. “I messed my ribs up. I used it as a weakness and an excuse to give up. I wasn’t going to give up this year. I’ve been looking forward to this all year.”
West was one of 14 district champions crowned Saturday at Blue Springs South. The top four place-winners in each weight class qualified for the Missouri Class 4 state tournament, a three-day event that begins Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Looking to defend its Class 4 state championship, Park Hill won the district tournament Saturday with 195 points. The Trojans qualified eight wrestlers for the state meet.
Lee’s Summit, which qualified nine, finished second with 160.5 points, followed by Rockhurst (146), Blue Springs South (145) and Blue Springs (125.5).
Park Hill led all schools with four district champions — three of whom won state titles last season. Sean Hosford won at 120 pounds, Ke-Shawn Hayes won at 126 and Colston DiBlasi won at 152.
The Trojans’ other winner Saturday, senior John Erneste, hopes to add his name to the state-champion list next week. Erneste, a Missouri signee, won the 132-pound class Saturday.
“I know it’s my last chance, so I can’t relax on anything,” Erneste said. “The state tournament is a grind, so you have to keep your mind focused. Knowing that it’s my last chance, I’m more motivated.”
So, too, is Blue Springs senior Daniel Lewis, who cruised to his first-place finish at 160 pounds.
Lewis will take an unbeaten record into Columbia, where he will attempt to become the first four-time state champion in Blue Springs history. Lewis also can become only the second wrestler in state history to win four consecutive state championships at four different weight classes. Former Hickman wrestler J’den Cox accomplished the feat last season.
“I feel a little bit more confident. I think maturity is a factor now,” said Lewis, who signed with Missouri. “I’ve been through it three times. This time is almost routine. Every time I go out and wrestle, it’s one match closer to getting it done.”
Lewis’ teammate Michael Pixley, who won the 195-pound class Saturday, is gunning for a second straight state title.
Lee’s Summit North junior Keegan McCormick would settle for just the one.
McCormick pulled off the most dramatic victory of the 14 championship bouts Saturday, scoring a go-ahead takedown of Park Hill sophomore Canten Marriott as the buzzer sounded to eke out a 4-3 decision at 145 pounds. Marriott defeated McCormick just one week ago.
“I just knew I needed to go, go, go and get that takedown quick before time ran out,” McCormick said. “... After losing to him, I watched some film this week and tried to learn a few things. I don’t like losing, so I really wanted this match.”
Other winners Saturday were Rockhurst twin freshmen Cameron Valdiviez (106) and Colin Valdiviez (113), Park Hill South senior George Barth (138), Lee’s Summit senior Juan Castaneda (170), William Chrisman senior Josh Wallace (182) and Blue Springs South junior Christian Boyles (220).