KANSAS CITY, Kan. — After finishing with two second-place medals and one third-place medal at state his first three seasons, Grain Valley senior Caleb Benshoof was hoping for a state championship as the coup de gras to his high school career.
However, a collarbone injury made things tougher for the 132-pounder at this year’s Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships.
“It was weighing on me more mentally than physically honestly,” Benshoof said of the injury.
For the first time in his career, Benshoof didn’t earn a state medal as he went 2-2 as he dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 tiebreaker in the quarterfinals before dropping another tiebreaker (6-4) in the third round of wrestlebacks.
It was a tournament Benshoof wanted to forget, but he had a chance at redemption at the 26th annual Kansas City Metro Classic Battle at the Border meet Tuesday, one which features some of the best senior wrestlers in the Kansas City metro area.
A third-round takedown of Blue Valley Southwest’s Joseph Dennison netted the senior a 5-3 decision, which helped Team Missouri capture a 32-14 victory over Team Kansas at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
“I imagined this match as a my state championship,” said Benshoof, who wrestled at 126 pounds Tuesday. “I didn’t meet my goals this year. I had some tough losses. I was feeling really bad after that tournament, but I knew once I joined this, I knew it was my second chance to go out and fight hard.”
After the win, Benshoof flexed his muscles and let out a shout. After he shook hands with Dennison he raced up the stairs in the stands and gave his father Chad a big hug. He was able to end his high school career with a win.
“I came into this and I was kind of sore again. But I went out there and fought and I couldn’t feel it. It was awesome,” said Benshoof, who broke the school record with 107 career pins.
When he got his second and final takedown, the Missouri crowd roared in applause as it had all night anytime a Missouri wrestler scored points.
“It’s more like a college dual I would say,” Benshoof said of the Metro Classic. “They are a lot more into the match and they cheer more. I’ve been here the last three years. It was super packed and super loud, I love that atmosphere. That’s why I am looking forward to wrestling in college (at Augsburg University in Minneapolis).”
Team Missouri and Blue Springs coach Bobbe Lowe said he admired the gutsy effort from Benshoof while still battling an injury.
“He’s kind of battling an injury and for him to come off a tournament I know he wasn’t too happy about, shows a lot of guts, fire and grittiness for him to come out and get a win for his team,” Lowe said. “I know it feels good for him, too.”
It was the opposite for William Chrisman senior and 2019 Class 3 state champion David Toese, who said a mental lapse cost him in a 4-3 loss to Bishop Miege’s Sean Ryan.
Toese nearly took a 5-1 lead after taking down Ryan out of bounds while keeping both feet in for a half second. However, the officials didn’t award the points to Toese. And he had to try to cling to a 3-2 lead in the final 30 seconds. In the final 10, Ryan tripped up Toese for a takedown for the win.
“It was out of bounds but my feet were still in,” Toese said of his first takedown. “My feet were still on the mat, so I thought I had a near fall. I saw on the scoreboard that it was 5-1. But I guess they didn’t count the near fall.
“I was stupid and I decided to relax because I was ahead and not worry about anything. But as soon as he tripped me, I went on the floor. I knew I messed up.”
Added Lowe: “It was close, but he had the match won, but he let the guy in and put himself in a position where the guy got a takedown on short time. That’s not something you want to do.
“But that’s not something that will define the kid. He will be fine and he’ll learn from it.”
Even though he came up just short of a win, Toese still enjoyed the atmosphere of the Metro Classic.
“It was insane,” Toese said. “As soon as I got that throw, the fans were yelling and roaring. That was crazy. It was a really good experience.”
Now, Toese will decide where he wants to wrestle in college.
“I’ve had Graceland, (Missouri Valley) – they were here tonight – and Lindenwood show interest in me,” Toese said. “I got my eyes on Graceland.”
Also getting wins for Missouri were Belton’s Brayden Bradley (120, 4-2 decision); Liberty’s Austin Kolvek (132, fall); Smithville’s Mitchell Bohlken (138, 4-3 decision); Belton’s Andrew Gamble (152, 7-6 decision); Belton’s Robert Weber (160, fall); Kearney’s Chopper Mordecai (170, fall); and Harrisonville’s Sam East (182, 10-4 decision).