Senior Night couldn’t have gone much better for a Blue Springs wrestling squad that had one last tuneup before the Class 4 District District 4 Tournament in eight days.
Three out of the four senior Wildcats earned a pin in 1:21 or less to lead their team to a 46-18 victory against Suburban Big Seven foe Lee’s Summit West Wednesday at Blue Springs High School.
Bret Heil (160 pounds), who finished third at state last year, is feeling great a few days before districts, he said. He made short work of Roman Bushek by earning a pin in 56 seconds.
“I am feeling pretty good, I beat the No. 1 in the state (at the Winnetonka Invitational two weeks ago). I feel like it’s my year,” Heil said.
Zach Hazen (220) feels the same way going into the postseason.
“I want to win my district then go on to state and try and win there,” Hazen said.
Blue Springs coach Bobbe Lowe said it has benefited Hazen to wrestle in the 220-pound weight class because he will be competing at 195 at districts. The senior is ranked sixth at 195 in Class 4, and pinned Justin Benedetti in 57 seconds after hooking his opponent’s shoulder and throwing him to the mat.
“It is helping him get used to pushing some bigger guys around,” Lowe said. “It will help with his strength some. He loses a little bit of the speed factor from it, though. (West) had a tough 195-pounder and he’s hurt. It would been really nice to see that matchup. He’s a fifth- or sixth-ranked kid in that weight class.
“(The seniors) had to adjust some and do some things that they are not used to (in Lowe’s first year at Blue Springs). They are a pretty positive group and are diligent with their work ethic.”
Jett Merlo (138), who is ranked at No. 5 in Class 4, completed the trifecta for the seniors after he got a takedown, worked three near falls before hooking in a cradle for the pin at 1:21, capping a special night for the upperclassmen.
“(The seniors) went out and did their job in matches we expected them to win,” Lowe said.
The seniors weren’t the only Wildcats to shine. Blue Springs junior heavyweight Simeon Sullivan (285) escaped a waistlock from Jed Falk by somersaulting forward and catching his opponent off balance. He then leaned backward on top of Falk, using his weight to force his opponent's shoulders down to the mat in 2:44.
“He’s a football player who never wrestled before,” Lowe said of Sullivan. “He thought this would help him for football and I think he’s enjoying what he is doing. He’s pretty athletic. And he’s lost 45, 50 pounds … it was fun to watch him go out there and roll around a little bit.”
Other Wildcat victories came from Jason Gross (113), who earned a 13-2 major decision; DeAndre Thomas (126) took a 9-3 decision; Daemon Hegarty worked for a 7-3 decision; and Lawson Lackey (182) and Koby Mansfield (195) took forfeit wins.
“We had some matches today that were 50-50 and we won those,” Lowe said. “They’re progressing the way they should. We’re not quite there, but we’re close.”
So, how many guys does Lowe want to take to state?
“Why not all of them,” Lowe asked rhetorically. “We’re going to go into (districts) with that mindset that everyone should qualify for state.”