The Oak Grove High School Panthers headed to the Missouri Class 2 state wrestling championships last season expecting a dogfight for first place.
They quickly ensured there wouldn’t be one.
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Oak Grove ran away with the state championship, totaling 172 points to second-place Fulton’s 113.
A year later, the Panthers have put themselves in position for a repeat performance in their quest for the school’s 15th state championship.
Oak Grove qualified nine wrestlers for the Missouri Class 2 state meet that runs Thursday through Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Each qualified by placing in the top four in their respective weight classes at the Class 2, District 4 meet last Saturday in Excelsior Springs.
Oak Grove edged Smithville for the team district championship behind five individual winners: freshman Connor Brown (106 pounds), freshman Shawn Kavadas (126), senior Tyler Brown (132), junior Skyler Jackson (138) and senior Bryce Mercer (145).
Tyler Brown will be looking to repeat as a state champion after winning the 126-pound bracket last February. Mercer placed third last season.
The Lee’s Summit High School wrestling team was unable to field a full lineup in dual meets last season, but that sure seems like a long time ago now.
The Tigers qualified nine wrestlers for the Missouri Class 4 state championships that start Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Each of them placed among the top four in a district that includes the defending state champion team from Park Hill.
The Tigers took second in the Class 4, District 4 tournament behind Park Hill.
And get this — they did it with depth.
Lee’s Summit won only one weight class. Juan Castaneda took home first place at 170 pounds.
“It definitely gives me momentum for state,” Castaneda said.
Football legacy, hoops skills
Summit Christian Academy senior Taurin Hughes may have some of his father’s athleticism, but he has transferred it from the football field to the basketball court.
Hughes broke the school’s boys basketball scoring record Feb. 12 with a third-quarter jump shot during a 74-69 win against Central Academy.
Hughes scored 22 points in the game, bringing his career total to 1,104. Austin Null set the previous mark of 1,088 points in 2007.
Hughes is the son of former Chiefs wide receiver Danan Hughes, who scored five touchdowns in 85 games with the Chiefs in the 1990s.
“I have never had a player who worked as hard as Taurin does in the off-season and away from practice,” Summit Christian coach Jake Kates said. “He deserves the accolades he receives because of his hard work, drive and dedication to the game.”
Behind Hughes, a 6-foot point guard, Summit Christian Academy has a 19-5 record this season. The Eagles are No. 5 in The Star’s small-class poll.