Surely, Blue Springs wrestling coach Mike Hagerty wanted to give the larger-than-normal crowd a bit more to cheer about during Wednesday’s home dual against Jefferson City.
But following a 45-24 loss to the unbeaten Jays, a match in which the Wildcats won just three bouts, the longtime mentor said his team did the best it could in the first half of what Blue Springs billed as the “Battle at the Springs.”
A half-hour after the high school teams competed under the spotlight, NCAA Division II No. 19 Maryville University and NAIA No. 2 Missouri Valley College squared off. In between were several youth matches, and the Wildcats also welcomed back several of the program’s alumni. Maryville, which includes Blue Springs alums and former state champions Darick Lapaglia and Greg Hegarty, won the college dual 35-6.
“Wrestling can be fun, and sometimes we’ve taken it at a level that’s so intense,” Hagerty said after the high school match, as more spectators filtered in for the college dual. “We want to make if fun for spectators. I think it will be a great event. We want to expose this to the youth, and for the alumni to see this and remember their roots.”
Gage Harmon gave the Wildcats a good start at 106 pounds, pinning Dennis Barnes in 2:35. But Blue Springs had just four more wins. Three-time state champion Daniel Lewis (160) needed just 28 seconds to pin Devin Miller, and Collyn Allen (182) got wrist control and powered over Rashaun Woods for a pin at 4:32.
Hagerty chose to forfeit 195 and bump state champion Michael Pixley to 220 for a better match, but Jefferson City chose to forfeit there.
“Michael’s not going to hurt anybody; he just wants to wrestle,” Hagerty said. “We just want our kids to get matches. It’s a little disappointing.”
Allen, who went into the third period tied at 3 and started from the top position, said he just needed to push himself more to get the win.
“Sometimes, whenever I’m in a close match, I look over at my teammates and remember all the hard work we’ve put in, and I just go harder,” he said. “Pressure, pressure, pressure and just break him down.
“There’s a lot more matches I could’ve won this year. Now it’s just clicked, working with Michael and Daniel all season, and I’m starting to just work harder.
Joe King (120), Alicia Reyes (126), Jeremy King (132), Zane Heiter (152) and Atlanta McMillan (285) all lost low-scoring decisions, two others suffered pins, and the Wildcats forfeited two other classes.
“They’ve had a real good dual season,” Hagerty said of the Jays. “We have a couple weights we just can’t fill right now. When you’re down 12 points against a good team, it’s tough. Next year we’ll have a good group of eighth graders come up and maybe we’ll bounce back.
“Some of our kids are in survival mode, trying to keep guys from getting fall points. Some are just overmatched. I can’t get too down on them.”
Maryville won eight of 10 bouts in the nightcap, including Lapaglia’s pin in 5:57 at 141 pounds and Hegarty’s 7-3 decision at 157.
Hegarty, a redshirt freshman who raised his record to 7-3, returned from an injury just in time to compete in the familiar digs.
“It was a fun match with the hometown crowd,” he said. “Before it I was joking with my teammates that my family will fill the whole stands, because everybody’s here. It’s fun to come back to the home gym.”
Lapaglia now has a 23-9 record in his freshman season, and those wins certainly haven’t come as easy as they often did in high school.
“It’s a lot rougher,” he said. “The season already feels twice as long, especially compared to when you’re a senior in high school.
“I was a little nervous, but once I started warming up it went away. I was more nervous about the match itself than in front of all the people.”
Keenan Hagerty, coach Hagerty’s son and a two-time All-American, is redshirting this season at Maryville, and fellow Blue Springs alum Austin Reyes is redshirting at Missouri Valley.
WINNETONKA TOURNAMENT: Blue Springs seniors Daniel Lewis and Michael Pixley pinned their way to titles Saturday, leading the Wildcats to eighth place out of 16 teams.
Park Hill won with 412.5 points, with Eureka (358.5) and Rockhurst (321) rounding out the top three. Blue Springs totaled 218.5 points.
Lewis (160 pounds) and Pixley (195) each went 5-0. Lewis cradled Ozark’s Clint Godfrey for a pin in 1:06 in the finals, improving his record to 33-0. Pixley flattened Rockhurst’s Nelson Peterson in just 37 seconds, improving to 30-1. He spent just 4:48 on the mat in his five matches.
Gage Harmon (106) was the Wildcats’ next-best finisher, pinning Liberty’s Cameron Wells for third place. Jeremy King (120) went 5-2 and Joe King (132) 4-3 to place fifth, while Atlanta McMillan (285) 3-3 and finished seventh.
BLUE SPRINGS DROPS TWO: Daniel Lewis, Michael Pixley and Jeremy King each won twice Tuesday but Blue Springs suffered a pair of Suburban Big Six losses to Raymore-Peculiar (42-21) and Lee’s Summit (41-21) at Ray-Pec.
Lewis (160) won with a pair of quick pins, while Pixley (220) won with a pin and a major decision and King won a pair of decisions. Joe King (132) and Collyn Allen (182) won decisions against Ray-Pec, while Gage Harmon (106) won a technical fall and Zane Heiter (152) won a decision against Lee’s Summit.