The lights dimmed inside Mizzou Arena, and Platte County senior Matthew Schmitt heard his name announced over the speakers. He tried to ignore it — tried to tell himself this was just like any other match — but those endeavors were unsuccessful.
“When they called my name, that’s when I realized this was it. This is my last rodeo,” Schmitt said. “I couldn’t help it. I had to just tell myself to make it count.”
In the end, it made for a memorable swan song.
Schmitt won the Missouri Class 3 132-pound title Saturday, capturing his third straight championship. He concluded the year 53-0.
His teammates followed his lead. Senior Ethan Karsten (145 pounds) won his third championship; Johnny Blankenship (160) won his second title; and Cody Phippen (106) captured his first.
Park Hill repeats
Park Hill sophomore Kelvin Eblen can recall the final moments of his first state-tournament appearance with remarkable precision. It was a late third-period blunder, he explains, that cost him a loss last season.
There were no mistakes this time.
Eblen cruised to the Class 4 106-pound championship and helped the Trojans claim their fourth straight team title.
“I just thought back to last year (and) how I took third place. I wanted to top that no matter what,” Eblen said.
Park Hill also got a championship from senior Sean Hosford, who capped his career with a third state title.
Smithville captures first team title
In the minutes after Smithville senior Luke Sachs notched his third consecutive state championship, he analyzed it as no different than any of the others.
Well, except for one distinction: A team title came with this one.
Smithville won the first Class 2 championship in school history, using championship victories from Sachs (182), Blake Ackerman (106), Jacob Boyd (195) and Jacob Bohlken (heavyweight).
“To do it in my senior year, and to win it in a (manner) like that, it just doesn’tt get any better than that,” Sachs said. “I'm ecstatic.”
Odessa’s Miller wins third title
On the opening day of the Class 2 tournament, Odessa senior Dakota Miller became only the second wrestler in state history to surpass 200 victories.
Victory No. 203 could be the most significant, he said.
Miller came back from a second-period deficit to win the 126-pound championship bout with a 3-2 decision.
“I stayed patient and didn’t panic,” Miller said. “I’ve been here before, so I knew I couldn't rush things.”
Oak Grove adds hardware
While Smithville halted Oak Grove’s reign as the three-time defending Class 2 champion, the day was far from a lost cause for the Panthers.
Oak Grove won two individual championships. Connor Brown (120 pounds) won his third straight title and completed his second straight undefeated season — barely. He scored a reversal with 3 seconds left to defeat Smithville sophomore Alex Rivera.
“That was the most incredible moment of my career,” Brown said.
Oak Grove junior Shawn Kavadas (132) won his second straight tile.
After opening his high school career with back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Class 2 tournament, Pleasant Hill senior Olen Brattin concluded it with back-to-back titles. He won the 152-pound division.
“I had a bad history in the state finals. Even last year when I won it, I didn’t wrestle my best,” Brattin said. "This year, I felt extremely confident.”
Kearney sophomore Clayton Singh grabbed a big lead early and held on late for a 9-7 decision to win the Class 3 113-pound division, his second straight title.
“I feel like everyone was looking at me and expecting me to win again, but I came in with a better approach this time — I was more focused,” Singh said.
Kearney senior Andrew Buckley won his second consecutive title at 182 pounds in Class 3.
Rockhurst twin brothers Cameron Valdiviez (120) and Colin Valdiviez (126) won Class 4 titles. Their teammate, Vincent Spalitto, was the heavyweight champion.
Andrew Gamble became the first freshman in Belton history to win a title when he captured the Class 3 120-pound championship.
Lee’s Summit West senior D.J. Thogerson-Brasfield avenged a loss from two weeks earlier when he pinned Holt senior Austin Keller in the championship bout.
Raytown senior Dominique Hampton won the Class 4 220-pound division.
West Platte senior Justin Rhodes won the Class 1 152-pound title.
Staley sophomore Zach Elam was victorious in the Class 4 182-pound bracket.