The half of the match Blue Springs wrestling coach Mike Hagerty was concerned with, his Wildcats took care of business well enough.
While Tuesday was an opening dual with last season’s Class 4 runner-up Blue Springs hosting Class 3 co-champion Kearney, the ultimate result was a foregone conclusion. With football players just starting the transition to wrestling after a state championship run, and some younger wrestlers so inexperienced that Hagerty didn’t wish to throw them to the wolves, the Wildcats left seven of 14 weight classes open as Kearney recorded a 54-23 win.
Blue Springs won four of the seven contested bouts – three pins and a technical fall.
“That’s the only thing you can take out of this,” Hagerty said. “Obviously my challenge is to get my team sorted out.
“That’s one of the things about having a championship football team. I didn’t have some kids that would’ve been with us. Some young kids have only had a few practices. It wouldn’t have been fair to them. The kids that wrestled, they did wrestle well.”
The first two bouts featured Blue Springs returning state champions Daniel Lewis and Michael Pixley. Lewis, who won his third state title at 138 pounds last season, was at 160 pounds and disposed of Dalton Lewis before the second period was through, turning him multiple times for a 16-1 technical fall.
Pixley, competing at 182 pounds again, racked up a 12-2 lead through one period on Zach Courtoise and was on the verge of his own technical fall when he got the pin in 2:15.
“I wrestled like I’ve been training,” Pixley said. “I got my takedowns happening and my tilts.”
At 195 pounds, the Wildcats’ Collyn Allen got an escape and takedown in the third to draw within 5-4 against Brandon Adams but couldn’t turn Adams and fell 10-4. Kearney’s Dillon Grimme then grinded out a 6-1 win over Atlanta McMillan at 285.
Blue Springs freshman Gage Harmon made his prep debut a short one, scoring a quick takedown and converting that into a pin at 1:05. Harmon said years of youth wrestling calmed whatever nerves he might’ve had.
“I was looking for my first win and really setting the tone,” Harmon said. “I like to be very aggressive and rack up points a lot.”
Wildcat 120-pounder Jeremy King flattened Aaron Borden in just 37 seconds. But Kearney 138-pounder Blake Clevenger, a state runner-up last season, had a 4-0 lead when he pinned Joe King in 3:12 to complete the dual.
“Joe King was wrestling up a class, and Blake’s one of the top kids in Class 3,” Hagerty said. “He shouldn’t feel bad.
“I think Collyn should’ve contested that match more. In practice he’s looked a lot better. Gage Harmon, I think he’s going to be something special. Michael and Daniel coming out and doing their thing, they set the early tone.”
Blue Springs’ junior varsity managed a 42-36 win. Pixley said his younger teammates eventually will fill the lineup well.
“Our JV team’s been looking tough, and we have a good JV coach,” Pixley said. “I think we’ll be stronger as a team in a couple weeks.”
Forfeit wins for Kearney went to Andrew Borden (145), defending state champion Grant Leeth (152), Andrew Buckley (170), Andy Allyn (220), Ethan Luft (113), John Horn (126) and Max Bingham (132).