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Examiner
  • Panthers capture title in own tourney

  • Oak Grove’s wrestling team is in good shape when it matters most.

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  • Oak Grove’s wrestling team is in good shape when it matters most.
    On a day when Oak Grove’s 1984 and ’87 state championship teams were honored, the Panthers had four weight-class winners and five more runners-up, tallying 205.5 points on their home mats Saturday to win the Panther Classic.
    As a final tune-up before next weekend’s Class 2 district tournament, Oak Grove bested a seven-team field that included two of Missouri’s top Class 4 teams in second-place Blue Springs (167.5 points) and third-place Park Hill (157.5).
    “I think the guys did pretty well this weekend,” Oak Grove coach Bobbe Lowe said. “They responded well from being off last weekend. The tournament’s designed to see where you’re at before districts. With these (Class 4) schools here, it’s the best gauge you can get. It’s a great tournament with a great tradition.”
    Blue Valley West (Kan.) finished in the middle of the pack with 101.5 points, followed by Jackson (82.5), Fort Osage (43.5) and William Chrisman (14).
    Oak Grove’s champions were Jacob Best at 120 pounds, Tyler Brown at 126, Taylor Brinegar at 160 and Preston Airington at 195, while Brock Mercer (106), Drake Hoffman (113), Bryce Mercer (132), Anthony Barker (138) and Logan Cairer (145) all fell in championship matches to finish second.
    Best scored a third-period takedown and rode out Jackson’s Jake Byrd to win his championship match 10-9, while Brown’s late takedown allowed him to squeak past Park Hill’s Hunter Roberts, 3-1.
    “Tyler Brown had a good tournament, beating Hunter Roberts from Park Hill, who’s ranked fourth in the state,” Lowe said. “He wrestled some quality matches. Taylor Brinegar, he won his first tournament of the year. He’s had an up-and-down year, but he’s right where he needs to be.”
    At 160, Brinegar dominated Blue Springs’ Jayme Allen in a 15-2 major decision, capping a tournament that also included three pins.
    “It’s a really important tournament to win,” Brinegar said. “There’s no sloppy teams here. If you win this, you’ve gotta be pretty good.
    “When I see my teammates winning, it helps me out. If I see the team’s down, I try to boost them up. But if everyone’s winning, it’s a lot more fun.”
    In the 195-pound title bout, Airington pulled a single-leg shot into a double to score a takedown in the final minute and break a scoreless tie with Blue Springs’ Jamie Foutz, thwarting a last-second escape attempt for a 2-0 win. Earlier in the meet, Airington had scored a 2-1 win over Foutz.
    Blue Springs champions included Daniel Lewis at 138, Darick Lapaglia at 145, Michael Pixley at 182 and 220-pounder Austin Reyes. Loren Vasquez (170) joined Allen and Foutz as runners-up.
    Lewis was up 8-0 before he pinned Barker (2:52) in a title matchup of top-ranked 138-pounders. Lapaglia whipped Cairer 10-2, and Pixley flattened Park Hill’s August Sobbing in 1:17, capping a day which saw him spend just 2:44 on the mat in three matches. The Wildcats’ top-ranked trio has one combined loss this season – a decision for Lapaglia against Class 3 No. 1 Grant Leeth from Kearney.
    Page 2 of 2 - Reyes won a 3-2 decision in the semis before beating Blue Valley West’s Chall Jenkins, 3-1, for the title.
    “They have (come through) all year; they’ve showed up tough,” Blue Springs coach Mike Hagerty said of his top wrestlers, adding that another one, top-ranked 152-pounder Cain Salas was missing due to injury. “It’s a mixed bag. We pushed several guys into the finals, but it’s a little misleading because not everyone had a full lineup.”
    Thirds for Blue Springs went to George Crane (113) and Joe King (126), while Jeremy King (120), Codi Draper (132) and Bryce Thomsen (285) finished fourth.
    Hagerty noted a couple other big schools rested some top athletes before districts, but he saw no reason to do so himself.
    “A week before, it’s about the right time and right intensity,” he said of the Panther Classic. “It’s not like the Kansas City Classic; it’s just right. We pushed a few more guys through, but we didn’t get the finish we hoped for. We’ve gotta go back to the drawing board, find out what’s working and eliminate what’s not.”
    Fort Osage 132-pound freshman Jesse Jeffries scored a 4-1 decision over Oak Grove’s Bryce Mercer in their title match. Jeremiah Reynolds at 106 and Jeremy Barnes at 160 added thirds for the Indians.
    Chrisman entered just seven wrestlers due to a sudden rash of illnesses. Of the healthy Bears, 152-pounder Deontay Lapsley led the way by taking third. Anthony Wheeler (113) and Louis West (138) each took fourth.
     
     
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