Grain Valley High School graduate Caleb Benshoof, one of the most successful wrestlers in Eagles history and a four-time state qualifier, was sitting at his home with his father Chad and they were both bored out of their minds.
"At our house, we eat, sleep and breath wrestling," said Chad, a former prep standout who graduated from Perry High School outside of Des Moines, Iowa, in 1991 and who is now the events manager for Blue Chip Athletic.
"We were going crazy. Our family moved to Grain Valley 14 years ago and I really wanted to help develop a youth wrestling program that would serve as a feeder program to the high school."
Benshoof began working with local youngsters and Caleb began wrestling when he was 6.
"He wanted to start when he was 5," Chad said, chuckling, "but I wanted him to be around the sport a little bit and see if he would really want to get involved."
He did – and became the first four-time state qualifier in Grain Valley history, going to state from 2016-2019 and finishing with three medals and 165 wins.
The father and son began talking about putting together a virtual wrestling tournament, featuring 24 of the top wrestlers in Eagles history.
At noon Saturday, Benshoof and Mavrick Alexander, the first Eagle to win a state championship, will finish up their head-to-head competition to determine the 24-field champion. To vote go to: https://twitter.com/WrestlingGV/status/1256269221861953540?s=20
"It’s really been exciting and taken off – I can’t believe how many people have voted for Grain Valley wrestlers in each round," said Caleb, who now wrestles at 141 pounds for Augsburg University in Minneapolis, where he is majoring in accounting. "And it’s been a fun way to take our minds off the coronavirus quarantine and not being able to go out and wrestle."
Mavrick Alexander is going to be by his computer tomorrow to check out the final outcome.
"It’s been so much fun," said Alexander, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and a recent graduate from the University of Missouri who is hoping to land a job at a Kansas City television station. "I liked the seeding, but I guess I have to win to make the seeding right."
Wolfgang Clapper, a three-time state qualifier and two-time state runner-up, was seeded second and lost to third-seeded Benshoof in the semifinals. Alexander defeated No. 13 Harrison Bamman, a three-time state qualifier, in the semifinals.
Caleb said one of the closest matches was between Mavrick’s brother, Mitchel, and Jaden Worthington.
"It looked like Jaden was going to win, and Mitchel came on strong in the closing 15 minutes and won by a couple of votes."
Caleb’s father agreed with the success of the virtual tournament, adding, "Anyone can go online and vote today and we’ll have the results shortly after noon. I think both of us have been surprised at all the interest it has generated.
"It’s been something Caleb and I can do together and it sure beats talking about the quarantine or being so bored."