Here are five things to watch at the Missouri high school wrestling state tournament, which takes place Thursday through Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
1. The conversation must start with the Park Hill program. The Trojans have won three straight Class 4 championships, and after last week’s district tournament, they’re the odds-on favorite to return home with a fourth.
Park Hill qualified 12 wrestlers for the state tournament, with Kelvin Eblen (106 pounds), Josh Steele (113), Sean Hosford (145), Devin Winston (160) and Canten Marriott (170) winning district titles.
Hosford, a senior, is a two-time state champion whose plans to join the illustrious four-time club were derailed by an injury last season. He is 33-3. Marriott, an undefeated state champion last season, is 49-1.
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2. Oak Grove tied the all-time state record with its 16th state championship in school history last February.
Its top competition for a record-breaking 17th could come from another Kansas City-area school.
Smithville upended Oak Grove for the Class 2, District 4 championship Saturday, and the Warriors qualified 10 wrestlers for the state meet. Oak Grove will take eight.
Smithville has four wrestlers who earned No. 1 seeds — Blake Ackerman (106), Jake Bollinger (138), Luke Sachs (182) and Jacob Boyd (195). Sachs is the defending champion in the 182-pound bracket.
For Oak Grove, Jet Tryon (113), Connor Brown (120), Tristan Stack (160), Landon Cairer (170 and Tyler Curd (220) are seeded first. Brown, a junior, is 32-0 and attempting to complete his second straight undefeated season. Cairer, 45-2, won the 160-pound title last year.
3. Platte County seniors Matthew Schmitt and Ethan Karsten will look to cap their high school careers with a third straight individual title.
Schmitt (132) is 49-0 and won the district championship Saturday with a 5-3 decision against Grain Valley senior Mavrick Alexander. Karsten pinned his way through the 145-pound bracket.
Platte County, which took second in the Class 3 standings last year, qualified 10 wrestlers for the state meet, including five district champions.
4. In 2013, Drew Daniels became the first wrestling state champion in Rockhurst history when he won the Class 4, 160-pound bracket.
Three years later, a pair of twin brothers offer the Hawklets a chance to capture two in one season.
Juniors Cameron Valdiviez (120) and Colin Valdiviez (126) both won Class 4, District 4 titles Saturday — and they’re both unbeaten heading into the state tournament.
Cameron, 45-0, defeated Staley junior David Berryman 4-3 in the district championship bout. Colin, 48-0, beat Park Hill sophomore Weston DiBlasi 5-4.
5. A handful of Kansas City-area wrestlers head to Columbia trying to preserve their undefeated records.
In Class 4, Lee’s Summit West senior Jake Woods (138) is 40-0.
In Class 3, Oak Park junior Hunter Shelton (152) is 26-0. Shelton won the 152-pound title last season.
In Class 1, Lawson junior Corbin Menke (160) is 49-0.