COLUMBIA, Mo. – Blue Springs South High School brought eight wrestlers to Columbia for the Class 4 Missouri State High School Championships. On Thursday night five of the Jaguars won their first matches and another won in wrestlebacks, putting the team in eighth place with 19 points, nine behind first-place Wentzville Timberland.

South's two district champions, Christian Boyles (40-2) and Cole West (42-3), each won their first match Thursday to advance to today’s quarterfinals.

Boyles spent nearly the first full two minutes sizing up his opponent. With 14 seconds left in the first period, he saw his spot and went for the takedown. From there on, there was no looking back.

“I don't like to hurry anything because I could put myself in a bad position. Once I feel that something is there, I go after it and I stay after it,” Boyles said.

Boyles said he noticed his opponent was weak on the knee pick. That's what he decided to attack, and it worked out well.

“I went for it, and I got it twice,” Boyles said.

West wasn't as patient in his match. The 285-pounder won on a fall in 61 seconds.

“Cole just did what he does,” Blue Springs South assistant coach Rick Wilkson said with a smile. “He just gets aggressive and gets after people.

“I think we've performed pretty well,” Wilkson added. “We had a few guys come out that were maybe a little nervous, but overall I think we performed well.”

Christian Findley (106), Sam Hampton (126) and Wyatt Parker (182) also won in the first round, the latter two by pin, and Ben Lancaster recovered from a first-round pin to get an overtime takedown and stay line in the consolation bracket.

Sam Jackson (138) and Trey Storey (152) both suffered two losses. 

Heading into quarterfinals, Wilkson said he and head coach Doug Black would tell his wrestlers to keep it rolling.

“I told a couple of guys coming into the tournament, don't change a thing. You've gotten here for a reason,” Wilkson said. “You've gotten here because what you have done has been successful. Just keep it rolling.”

The Jaguars’ crosstown rival, Blue Springs, had six wrestlers competing on Thursday night, including previous state champions Daniel Lewis (160) and Michael Pixley (195).

Lewis (42-0) breezed through his first match of the state tournament. Less than three minutes after his match had started, Lewis was already dressed and heading to the locker room. It took him just 25 seconds to pin Marquette’s Michael Wirick.

“He did what he normally does. He strikes fast and doesn't give the guy much time to breath,” said Blue Springs coach Mike Hagerty, who added that the senior was on a mission to prove he is one of the best wrestlers ever in the state of Missouri.

“Sometimes he'll go out and he'll put a guy on his back and let him recover and then put him on his back and let him recover, but you can just tell there's a sense of urgency now,” Hagerty added. “He wants to go out and make a statement.”

Although Hagerty was happy with Lewis and Pixley (40-1), who took just 33 seconds to stop Ozark’s Jason Canizalez, he wasn't so pleased with the rest of his team. All four of the other Wildcats lost their first-round matches. Jeremy King (120) and Joe King (132) both lost in wrestlebacks and were eliminated, but Gage Harmon (106) and Collyn Allen (182) stayed alive with consolation wins.

Hagerty said that his wrestlers made silly mistakes, such as getting rolled through, and weren’t aggressive enough.

“Here, at this event, you get rewarded for getting after people and attacking. Guys that are nervous, that come in with concrete shoes, they typically don't win,” said Hagerty, whose team is tied for 13th with 12 points entering today.

Fort Osage will send two of its four qualifiers to the quarterfinals. Jesse Jeffries (138, 44-3) won with a first-period pin and Jesse Reser (145, 37-12) won an 8-2 decision to advance, but Tyler Selemaea (152) and Collen Divers (120) each went 0-2 and were eliminated. The Indians are tied for 29th with 6 points.

William Chrisman had three wrestlers in Columbia as well, but only one Bear advanced to the quarterfinals. Josh Wallace (45-3) won with a pin in 3:46. Tomasi Tuione (285) and Louis West (145) lost in the first round but only West remained alive with a wrestleback win. The Bears are tied for 24th with 7 points.

Lee’s Summit North brought three wrestlers to state, all of whom advanced on Thursday night to put the Broncos in a tie for 19th with 10 points. Austin Hanson (36-4) and Keegan McCormick (35-6) each advanced to the quarterfinals on a fall. Evan Weidner (17-8) took a comfortable 10-5 decision in his match.

CLASS 3: Grain Valley had quite an opening night. Four of the five Eagles are moving on to today’s quarterfinals.

Junior Harrison Bamman (39-8) took his match against Neosho's Gannon Millard (36-9) in a controversial 5-3 decision that drew protest from the Neosho coaches and fans.

Wolfgang Clapper (113, 33-5) and Joey Sodano (182, 27-20) took their matches with a fall and a decision, respectively. Sophomore Mavrick Alexander (126, 40-9) put up a strong showing, winning his first match with a 7-1 decision. Zach Jons (195) got a pin in the wrestlebacks.

“(We feel) pretty good,” said Grain Valley coach Jesse Whitson, whose team is tied for 11th with 13 points. “They competed real well and they were in the positions they need to be in to succeed.”

CLASS 2: Oak Grove finished Thursday in third place with 30 points.

Eight of nine Panthers advanced to the quarterfinals with first-round wins Thursday and all nine remain alive. Oak Grove is three points behind current front-runner Smithville.

Connor Brown (106), Shawn Kavadas (126), Tyler Brown (132), Skyler Jackson (138), Bryce Mercer (145), Landon Cairer (41-7), Dalton Brinegar (170) and Preston Airington (195) all prevailed for the defending state champion Panthers. Brock Mercer (120) suffered the only loss but posted a 31-second pin in wrestlebacks to stay alive.

Both of Van Horn's qualifiers, Sylvester Newman (138) and Carlos Cubas (182), lost in the first round but only Cubas bounced back with a wrestleback win, pinning his opponent in 3:25.

Quarterfinals begin this morning at 9:30.