High School Sports

Platte County dominates in district wrestling


As impressive as Platte County’s wrestlers were Saturday, the Pirates didn’t seem all that impressed with themselves.

Platte County came to the Missouri Class 3 District 4 wrestling meet at Oak Park intent on getting in position for another run at a state championship. And in workmanlike fashion, that’s just what the Pirates did, placing 10 wrestlers among the top four in each weight class that will move on to next week’s state meet in Columbia.

“They know what the ultimate goal is and that’s what they’ve got their eye on now,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “And they want to go forward and work toward that team title.”

Platte County, which finished second at state last year, will go forward with five district champions who were part of a nine-for-10 performance in the first- and third-place matches.

Cody Phippen started the run with an 8-0 major-decision win over Grain Valley’s Caleb Benshoof at 106 pounds. Two time state-champion Matthew Schmitt won the 132 final. Ethan Karsten, another two-time state champ, quickly pinned his opponent at 145, Johnny Blankenship also pinned his opponent at 160 and Casey Jumps recorded a pin as well in the 220 final.

All in day’s work.

“I wrestled like I should have,” said Karsten, who pinned Kearney’s Ethan Locke in 58 seconds in his final. “I did what I was supposed to do; I did what I was taught to do.”

Platte County finished with 221 team points for a comfortable margin over runner-up Kearney’s 160.5. Belton, with 128.5, edged out Grain Valley for third by one point.

“We had great tournament,” Burress said. “Some of them have been working for this since last summer and it transfers over.”

Confident freshman

Belton advanced six wrestlers to state and placed three in the finals but left with only one champion: freshman Andrew Gamble. Gamble, 49-5, scored a 17-4 major decision over Grain Valley’s Mitchel Alexander in the 120-pound final.

Gamble may be a freshman, but he exuded the confidence of an upperclassman after his first district tournament. The pressure didn’t faze him, and he doesn’t expect the state tournament to be any different. After all, he’s been putting in time on the mat since he was 4 years old.

“I’ve basically been wrestling my whole life,” Gamble said.

Emotional moment

Van Horn’s Carlos Cubas elicited one of the loudest ovations after his 5-4 victory over Kearney’s Zac Courtoise in the 195-pound final. After holding on for a 5-4 decision, Cubas kneeled and kissed the mat as the Falcons’ vocal section led the celebration.