Nearly an hour after receiving his medal for first place in the 145-pound weight class at the Bobcat Classic at Basehor-Linwood High School, Platte County’s Ethan Karsten was called out of the crowd once more.
This time came as a surprise and he was given the Most Valuable Wrestler award after leading his team to a second-place finish behind Goddard. Karsten improved to 28-1 with the victory.
“It means a lot because it’s not just winning the tournament, it goes one level past that,” Karsten said. “It’s saying you aren’t just the best wrestler in your weight class, but the best wrestler in the tournament.”
With his victory against Goddard’s Kendall Frame, Karsten also became one of the program’s first Bobcat Classic individual champions in their four years of participating. Matthew Schmitt, who defeated Basehor-Linwood’s Jon Trowbridge, became the first when he won the 126-pound weight class.
“The second day we wrestled about as well as we have in a long time as a team,” coach Reggie Burress said. “They battled all day long and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
This title was about redemption for Schmitt, who last year had become the first Platte County wrestler to take second.
“Last year I got hit in a big move and lost the match, but this will be big for my confidence,” Schmitt said. “This is redemption. This is his school and I was able to come in and get the pin.”
They were not the only ones making history though.
Osawatomie’s Kitana Diediker became the tournament’s first female placer when she took seventh in the 113-pound weight class. She lost her first match, but bounced back for a 4-0 decision in the next. She also won with a forfeit, a 5-3 decision and an injury retirement.
No one on Saturday was more visibly eager to celebrate their Bobcat Classic title than Basehor-Linwood’s own Corbin Nirschl.
As soon as the referee released his hand, Nirschl went cartwheeling, not once, but twice across the mat in an enthusiastic display following a 3-2 decision against Bonner Springs’ Collin Wallar in the 120-pound weight class. It was the second Bobcat Classic championship for Nirschl, who went undefeated and won a Kansas Class 5A state title last year as a freshman.
“I work for it and train for it,” Nirschl said. “This is my favorite tournament of the year.”
Teammate Cody Phippen took the individual title in the 106-pound weight class as well.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ Ben Ewing joined an elite group when he picked up his third consecutive Bobcat Classic title with a 9-4 decision against Goddard’s Corey Atkins in the 220-pound weight class. He improved to 13-0 with the victory.
“My goal was to get a three-time at this tournament and I knew what I needed to do,” “I’m really happy and proud of myself. I’m ready to get better on Monday.”
St. James Academy, which won the Bobcat Classic team title last year, took third. The Thunder had three wrestlers in championship matches and senior Zak Hensley won the 132-pound weight class with a 7-2 decision against Smithville’s Brody Lamb.
“We are all pretty confident, but we know we have a target on our backs,” Hensley said. “That has given us a lot of motivation in the practice room because everyone is working their butts off.”
Although Olathe North missed out on placing as a team by 4 1/2 points, the Eagles still took home a pair of individual titles for Isaac Dulgarian and Emilio Fowler who won the 160-pound and 182-pound weight classes, respectively.
Smithville’s Jacob Bohlken defeated Olathe North’s Chase Miller in the 285-pound championship.