Platte County junior Matthew Schmitt has won 34 straight wrestling matches — a streak that puts him among the state’s elite — but he’s spent the past two months dissecting every detail from one that got away. On Dec. 19, Schmitt lost in the Kansas City Stampede, a bout that sprung hours of video study.
He says he’s too competitive to handle losing. And he’s not alone. Platte County features three defending state champions — Schmitt, Ethan Karsten and Johnny Blankenship — all of whom bring a certain element of competition to the practice room.
It seems to be effective. All three cruised to opening-round wins Thursday at the Missouri Class 3 state meet.
“It’s been intense,” Schmitt said after winning his 126-pound match. “There have been some scraps. There have been times we want to punch each other in the face.
“When you have high-caliber guys like we have in our room, it gets intense. But it all helps.”
The graduation of a large senior class last spring prompted Staley wrestler Jayden Bears to assess where he could best serve the Falcons’ lineup. He ultimately settled on 195 pounds — a sizable leap from the 160-pound division in which he wrestled as a junior.
He’s made it look rather easy. Bears improved to 48-2 with a first-period pin against McCluer North junior Cayelon Barton in the Class 4 bracket.
“You have to wrestle these guys a lot more technical,” said Bears, who won the Class 3 160-pound state title last season. “I was stronger than a lot of the kids I wrestled against last year. This year, there aren’t a lot of kids who I’m stronger than.”
McCormick moves on
Lee’s Summit North senior Keegan McCormick arrived at the Missouri Class 4 state tournament Thursday with a couple objectives in mind: a state title and a new school record for pins.
The pins mark will have to wait, but McCormick took the first step toward a state title Thursday evening. He improved to 43-0 with a first-round technical fall against Raytown senior Austin Hardiman in the Class 4 152-pound division.
“I was really looking for the pin,” said McCormick, a Missouri signee. “I’m trying to break the school record, which is 32, and I’m at 32 right now. But a win’s a win. On to the next one.”
Park Hill, the two-time defending Class 4 champion, took a first-day lead in the team standings. Staley is third in Class 4.
Platte County is in second place in Class 3, and Kearney is tied for third, but Neosho already has a commanding lead in the classification.
Smithville won seven of its eight first-round matches Thursday and sits in a tie for second place in the Class 2 standings behind Fulton. Defending champion Oak Grove is in fourth in Class 2 after it won six opening-round matches, all of them by pin.
Lawson is in third place in Class 1.
Oak Grove sophomore Connor Brown (106), Blue Springs South junior Sam Hampton (132), Park Hill senior Ke-Shawn Hayes (138), Fort Osage junior Jesse Jeffries (145), Park Hill junior Canten Marriott (152), Fort Osage junior Jesse Reser (160), Blue Springs South senior Christian Boyles (220) and McCormick won first-round matches to keep their undefeated records intact.