Grain Valley is back in a position to bring some hardware from the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships.
The Eagles had eight wrestlers advance from the Class 3 District 4 meet that concluded Saturday night at Winnetonka High School.
The weekend was also a success for a pair of Independence schools as both William Chrisman and Van Horn both had four wrestlers advance to the state tournament that starts Thursday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
The Eagles finished fourth in a district that is loaded among the best teams in the state in the latest MissouriWrestling.com rankings. No. 2-ranked Kearney won the district title, followed by Platte County (No. 3) and Smithville (No. 5). Grain Valley jumped Belton, ranked No. 4 in the state, but finished fifth in the district.
Grain Valley had seven wrestlers finish Saturday with a win and will have the third-largest contingent going to state from the district behind Kearney and Platte County, which both had nine.
Trent LeGrotte captured the Eagles’ lone championship with the 145-pound title. He scored a reversal with 59 seconds left to pick up a 2-1 victory against Platte County's Nolan Saale in the championship.
“It was amazing,” LeGrotte said following the win. “I'm ready to go to state. That (No. 1) seeding means everything. It will be great in the long run. Now, I got to get mentally ready for it. I think this is one of the toughest districts around, which shows I'm competing for that state title this year. I'm ready to take first.”
The junior fell behind 1-0 on an escape by Saale in the second period, before rallying. The state qualifier – ranked No. 3 in the state – is ready to return after losing in a bubble match last year put him one win away from bringing home a medal.
The Eagles had a runner-up and six third-place finishers.
Mitchel Alexander (138) made his return to the mat after being sidelined following knee surgery on Dec. 27. He entered districts with a 2-1 mark and won his first three – along the way beating No. 2-ranked Caden Green of Kearney, 8-6, in sudden death overtime in the semifinals.
In the title match, Alexander fell behind 3-0 to Smithville's Mitchell Bohlken and lost 3-2.
Trent Starr (120) picked up the first of the six thirds by winning by an 11-0 major decision against Warrensburg's Tim Wiley. Caleb Benshoof, a returning state medalist, took third at 126 with a 6-0 decision against Smithville's Jared Thornbrugh, scoring two points in each period.
Taylor Huwar beat Coltyn Weston of Chrisman twice, the latter coming in the 152-pound third-place match. This was another close win for Huwar, who is a first-time state qualifier.
The two met in the quarterfinals and Huwar won 3-2 in quadruple overtime. Tied at 1, Huwar got a reversal with 3 seconds left to secure the win.
“It was a good match,” Huwar said. “I wrestled him earlier and won. I felt a lot better because I knew what he was going to do.
“It is an exciting feeling (going to state). I'm sure the nerves will set in midway through this week. Other than than, I'm looking forward to the experience.”
Drake Tipton (160) took third by beating Warrensburg's Josh Tomich 6-1. Jaden Worthington (220) won by medical forfeit and freshman heavyweight Donovan McBride got an escape in the first period and held on for a 1-0 win against Platte County's Matthew Knopp.
William Chrisman had only one state qualifier last year and that number grew for coach Riley Glasgow, who two years ago didn't have any qualifiers.
The Bears had a district champion in David Toese, who won the 285-pound crown.
The No. 3-ranked Toese picked up a 4-1 win against No. 5-ranked Tanner Karnes of Warrensburg. Toese, a junior, held a 1-0 lead going into the third when he got a near fall to take a 4-0 lead.
“He is a very, very hard worker and very coachable,” Glasgow said of Toese. “He does everything asked and he never complains. He is a kid you want everyone to mirror his hard work and great attitude.
“As a freshman and sophomore he was the young kid that didn't necessarily believe in himself. This year, we got in ourselves and it shows.”
The other three moving on for Chrisman were fourth-place finishers, including Weston who lost to Huwar.
Freshman Kash Ocobock (113) trailed 2-0 after two periods against Platte County's Nick Maddux, but ultimately lost 6-1 in the third-place match. Freshman Mason Walters (182) lost by a pin in the first period against Belton's Jack Goin in his third-place match.
“It is great for our program to be honest,” Glasgow said of the four qualifiers. “We are going in the right direction. We have to keep the kids involved and stay hungry. This is the toughest district in the state but we have high expectations. If you get out of here you should bring home some hardware.”
All four of Van Horn qualifiers finished fourth but that was four more for the Falcons than last year.
Freshman Ethan Moses (106) lost to Smithville's JT O'Rourke by an 11-4 decision, while Preston Murphy (132) lost 10-0 to Smithville's Blake Ackerman.
Kenneth Maluia (170) took fourth after falling to Kearney's Matthew Witthar by a pin, while Aaron Maluia (220) didn't compete in his match due to medical forfeit against Grain Valley's Worthington.