Lee’s Summit West senior Austin Eveler waited for the referee to raise his right arm and then departed for the locker room. In that split-second after his semifinal victory in the Missouri Class 4 state tournament, Eveler would say, he was already looking toward the future.
“One to go,” he said. “Winning last year, that was nothing like anything I’ve felt before. I want to do it again. I want to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.”
He’s close. Eveler advanced to the Class 4 145-pound state championship with two wins Friday at Mizzou Arena.
The state championship bouts for all classes will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
A banner scoreboard lines Mizzou Arena, providing regular updates on the team standings.
Park Hill senior Colston DiBlasi is checking it often.
The Trojans are leading a tightly-contested Class 4 race in search of their third straight state championship.
DiBlasi is doing his part to keep them there. Seeking his third straight individual title, he pinned both opponents on Friday and moved into the Class 4 170-pound state final.
“Everyone has been working on getting bonus points (with pins), because that could be what makes or breaks us,” DiBlasi said.
Park Hill senior Ke-Shawn Hayes, a two-time defending champion, will wrestle for the 138-pound title. Canton Marriott will wrestle for the 152-pound championship.
Chance for redemption
For the past year, each time Fort Osage junior Jesse Jeffries has stepped onto a wresting mat, it’s prompted a flashback. The memory draws him back to last February, when he lost a semifinal match at the state tournament.
“I can’t stop thinking about that moment. It just sticks with me,” Jeffries said. “I’m really high on self-pride, so it eats me up.”
He’s close to erasing the loss from his memory.
Jeffries will wrestle for the Class 4 145-pound title after he won two matches Friday. His teammate, Jesse Reser, will wrestle for the 160-pound title.
Singh follows brother’s path
Kearney freshman Clayton Singh says he rarely completes a wrestling tournament without hearing comparisons to his older brother, Jaret Singh, who was a three-time state champion at Kearney.
He’s likely to hear even more now.
After a comeback win in a quarterfinals match, Clayton hung on for a 4-2 victory in the semifinals and will wrestle for the Class 3 106-pound state championship.
“My brother is always telling me I could be a state champion,” Clayton said. “I have to prove him right.”
Oak Grove leads Class 2
The Oak Grove dynasty is in line to continue another year.
In search of the school’s 16th state championship, the Panthers lead the Class 2 team standings with 138 points, followed by Fulton (117.5) and Smithville (100.5).
Six Panthers will wrestle for state titles: Connor Brown (106), Jet Tryon (113), Shawn Kavadas (126), Skyler Jackson (138), Landon Cairer (160) and Dalton Brinegar (170).
Brown improved to 48-0 and will wrestle for his second straight Class 2 106-pound title.
Miller returns to finals
The path to a state championship was rather smooth for Odessa’s Dakota Miller in his freshman season, when he pinned his way through the tournament. But a year later, a semifinals loss crushed his thoughts of becoming a four-time champion.
Miller says he learned his lesson. And he’s applying it this season.
He will return to the Class 2 120-pound finals Saturday after cruising to quarterfinals and semifinals wins.
“I think after my freshman year, I was a little big-headed. I thought I was going to roll through everybody,” Miller said. “I learned you have to wrestle your match. You can’t let someone else dictate your match.”
Platte County’s trio of defending Class 3 champions — Matthew Schmitt (126), Ethan Karsten (145) and Johnny Blankenship (160) — reached the finals and will wrestle for their second straight titles.
Smithville junior Luke Sachs (182) will try to make it two straight in Class 2.