COLUMBIA, Mo. – Early-round losses forced Grain Valley’s wrestlers to battle back through the consolation bracket if they wanted to bring home state medals.
And battle back the Eagles did.
Grain Valley had five wrestlers survive to the final day of the boys state wrestling meet Saturday at Mizzou Arena, and all five of them – Hunter Newsom, Donovan McBride, Dru Azcona, Trent Starr and Drake Tipton – finished in the top six in Class 3 and earned all-state honors.
Even without a single finalist, Grain Valley still finished seventh as a team with 77 points. Not a bad consolation prize for the Eagles and coach Jeff Bowman.
“Everybody wants to put guys in the finals,” Bowman said. “We went out there and did our best.”
Newsom, who won his first two matches before falling in the semifinals, took third in the 182-pound weight class for the Eagles’ top finish. He ended his run through the bracket with a dominating 9-0 major decision over Chris Butts of Windsor-Imperial in his finale.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Newsom, who finished his junior season 40-6. “I wanted to be in the championship taking first, but it didn’t happen. It ended on a high note, but still there’s a lot of work to be done.”
McBride, who won three straight matches after falling in the first round, wound up fourth after a 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker loss to Micah Lieberman of Carl Junction in the third-place match. Tied 1-1 after three periods, the two exchanged escapes in overtime before McBride was penalized a point for clasping in the final overtime period.
“It (stinks) to lose that way,” Bowman said. “But sometimes that’s how wrestling goes.”
Azcona (113), Starr (126) and Tipton (170) all won their fifth-place matches. Azcona (37-10) scored an escape in the final seconds to edge Landon Kivett of Neosho 8-7, while Tipton (38-10) pinned Max Petruccellini of Branson.
Starr (41-10), who sat out last season after placing second as a sophomore, ended his high-school career by pinning Kyle Crawford of Farmington.
“We took a couple of bumps and bruises but I’m super proud of these guys,” Bowman said. “They worked their butts off all season long.”
William Chrisman tied for 37th with eight points in Class 3 and Van Horn tied for 44th with three.
When Blue Springs junior Korbin Shepherd and Staley’s Kyhler Brewer last met, Brewer retired with an ankle injury.
When the two met again in the Class 4 126 final, they tangled to a near-stalemate.
Tied 1-1 after three rounds, the match ended with Brewer grabbing Shepherd’s leg for a takedown for a 3-1 sudden-death victory.
Brewer’s takedown came so quickly that Shepherd wasn’t sure what happened in the final seconds. He wasn’t sure it was a takedown either.
“We got into a little scramble, and I didn’t think it was (a takedown) but the refs called it (a takedown) and that was the match,” Shepherd said. “I can’t put it in the refs’ hands. I have to take care of business and just come back stronger.
Shepherd, who won the Class 4 120-pound title last season, finished his junior year 42-2.
Shepherd wasn’t the only Wildcat suffering a heartbreaking loss on the final day. Cayden Dotson, who advanced through the consolation bracket to the Class 4 120-pound third-place match, lost 2-1 on tiebreakers to Jalin Reese of Lafayette-Wildwood.
Blue Springs finished 14th in the Class team standings with 39.5 points. Lee’s Summit North tied for 31st at 14 and Fort Osage was 35th with 12.
Oak Grove had four fourth-place finishers in Class 2: Kaden Scarborough (113), Anthony Erickson (145), Zander Brinegar (195) and heavyweight Caleb Groff. Oak Grove finished seventh as a team with 75 points.