Blue Spring wrestler Korbin Shepherd signs letter of intent for sixth-ranked Mizzou program
Once Korbin Shepherd signed his letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Missouri, he got in a little jab on his high school coach.
Shepherd, a three-time state qualifier and 120-pound state champion as a sophomore, was one of 13 Blue Springs senior student-athletes who took part in a socially distanced ceremony on the first day of the signing period Wednesday at the high school’s gymnasium.
Shepherd, who is 26-0 wrestling at 132 pounds this season, often works with Wildcats head coach Bobbe Lowe, a former NCAA All-American, on the mat.
“Coach Lowe gets in there and mixes it up with me,” Shepherd said, grinning under his mask. “We worked together yesterday and I think he’s a little bit sore today.”
When that remark was relayed to Lowe, the coach had a quick response, “We’ll see who’s sore today after practice.”
That brought a good laugh from both coach and student.
Shepherd said going to Brian Smith’s No. 6-ranked Mizzou program is like a dream come true.
“I’m so proud to continue the Blue Springs to Missouri pipeline that has been such a great part of the wrestling programs at each school,” Shepherd said, referring to former Mizzou All-Americans from Blue Springs, like Dom Bradley and Daniel Lewis.
Shepherd, a state runner-up at 126 pounds last season, said he plans on a return to state for the fourth time in a row.
“I plan on winning my final match,” he said emphatically. “Coach (Mike) Hagerty and our coach now, Coach Lowe are the best of the best. They have really helped me become the wrestler and the man I am today, and I want to thank them for that.
“And, of course, I want to thank my family.”
Shepherd’s teammate, Cayden Dotson, a Class 4 all-state wrestler at 120 pounds last season, also signed, choosing Edinboro (Pa.) University.
Senior Allie Brown, who made the Class 3 state quarterfinals last fall, chose Truman State to continue her tennis career. She said she is eager to face new challenges at the Division II school in Kirksville, Mo.
“I can’t wait,” Brown said. “I have senioritis, and today’s signing just makes me more and more excited to go to college and see what it’s like. I know there are going to be new challenges and I’m ready for them.”
Xavier Loyd, a wide receiver and defensive back for the Wildcats football team, is getting a chance to play Division I ball. He signed as a preferred walk-on at Kansas State, and he said that’s an opportunity he could not pass up.
“I could have gone to a lot of smaller schools and had it paid for,” Loyd said, “but I’d have always had in the back of my mind, ‘What if I would have gone to K-State?’ I just couldn’t say no, and I’m already working hard to be ready when I get there.
“High school has been great and I can’t wait to get to K-State, where I’ll still be a Wildcat.”
Loyd’s football teammate, defensive lineman T’Andre Forbush, signed with Division II Missouri Western.
The girls soccer team had three sign – Gabby Elliott (Baker University), Abby Caudle (Missouri Valley) and C.J. Cowick (Metropolitan Community College).
Four baseball players signed with Taylor Warren and Nate England both going to John Wood Community College in Quincy, Illinois. Michael Infranca signed with Division II Washburn and Trent Martin is headed to Johnson County Community College.
And softball player Abby Kinzler signed with Missouri Valley.
It was easy to tell how special Wednesday’s signing class was to first-year Blue Springs activities director Alan Hull.
With tables socially distanced around the high school gymnasium, he talked about the importance of the day from many different viewpoints.
“I have experienced this as a player, as a high school coach and college coach, as a parent and now as an activities director,” Hull said, “and I know what it means to everyone in this gymnasium.
“If this is your first child you are sending away to college, it’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be OK. If you are going away to college, it can be scary, but it is going to be awesome.”