By his coach’s description, Oak Grove sophomore Connor Brown is a wrestler who obsesses over the numbers. Records. Scores. Rankings. All of them.
In fact, he builds season-long goals around statistics and uses them to justify his objective to one day become a four-time Missouri state champion.
So when he won the 106-pound championship Saturday in the ninth annual Kansas City Stampede and called it the biggest victory of his wrestling career, you can bet he has the numbers to back it up.
“This is No. 1,” said Brown. “You’ve got kids from 11 states, All-Americans and a lot of great wrestlers. It’s the biggest win I’ve ever had. And that feels great.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
It’s hard to argue with Brown’s reasoning. After all, the Kansas City Stampede featured 43 state champions at Hale Arena. Forty schools were represented from 11 states.
Brown was among that prestigious class of former state champions. He won 41 matches on the way to the Missouri Class 2 106-pound title last season. It wasn’t long afterward that he established a goal of winning three more state championships before he graduates from Oak Grove.
He’s off to an encouraging start toward No. 2. Brown improved to 16-0 this season after beating Tuttle (Okla.) freshman Rhett Golowenski 6-0 in the championship bout Saturday.
“He is a very driven kid, and winning this tournament is something he’s looked forward to for a while,” Oak Grove coach Bobbe Lowe said. “When Connor sees something he can achieve, he’s going to work and try to make sure he gets there. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
DiBlasi bounces back
Park Hill senior Colston DiBlasi has won two Missouri Class 4 state championships and a bevy of other wrestling tournaments. So when he left last weekend’s Walsh Ironman Tournament with a seventh-place medal, it felt a bit unfamiliar.
A week later, DiBlasi was back in his usual position: on top of the podium.
DiBlasi hung on for a 4-2 victory against two-time Georgia state champion Daniel Bullard of Archer in the 170-pound championship bout on Saturday.
“We’ve got Christmas break coming up, and I didn’t want to have (Ironman) hanging over my head the entire break,” DiBlasi said.
“That tournament was over. I had to move on and focus on winning this one.”
Along with DiBlasi, Park Hill has won two straight state championships.
The path to a third straight is becoming more difficult. The Trojans wrestled Saturday without two-time state champions Ke-Shawn Hayes and Sean Hosford, who were injured.
Hosford, a junior, suffered a broken leg earlier this month and could miss the rest of the season.
Platte County junior Ethan Karsten entered the 145-pound championship match hoping to make history. Instead, he was on the wrong end of it.
Bettendorf (Iowa) senior Fredy Stroker became only the second four-time Kansas City Stampede champion Saturday when he defeated Karsten 3-0 in the final.
“He was really tough, but I know I could’ve wrestled better,” Karsten said. “I could’ve beaten him. I can beat anybody, and I know that.”