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Indians capture second at wrestling district

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner
Fort Osage heavyweight Stevie Gabb, top, looks for the signal from the official as he pins Van Horn's Mason Igou in the 285-pound finals at Saturday's Class 3 District 8 tournament at Kearney High School. Gabb was one of three champions for the Indians, who will send 12 wrestlers to the sectional round.

KEARNEY, Mo. — Fort Osage held a lead in the team standings through the four first- and third-place matches in the Class 3 District 8 tournament.

However, the small lead evaporated as Platte County surged ahead behind the strength of three head-to-head wins against the Indians to claim the championship Saturday at Kearney High School.

The Pirates entered the finals down by 13 points and ended up with a seven-point winning margin over the Indians, 176-169. A pair of teams that brought home trophies at the state meet last year – Kearney (third) and Smithville (fourth) – finished in that order at this district meet.

Fort Osage and Platte County will send 12 and Kearney advanced 11 to the sectional tournament Feb. 27 at Belton. William Chrisman will have six and Van Horn got four wrestlers to the final round before the March 12 state championships.

The top three finishers at sectionals will move onto the state finals at Cable Dahmer Arena.

“We knew the way this tournament is scored this year and the way the district is built, we would have great competition, but we also knew we had the opportunity to place high,” Fort Osage coach Brandon Wackerman said. “I knew the four teams – Kearney, Smithville, Platte County and us – we had the highest numbers as far as total kids. I knew we would have to wrestle near perfect and I thought we wrestled well, but we weren’t perfect.

Fort Osage's Jeremiah Phillips, back, tries to gain control in his 160-pound championship match against Smithville's Jeremiah Boone in the Class 3 District 8 tournament at Kearney High School. Phillips won 2-0 and takes a No. 1 seed into the Feb. 27 sectional tournament.

"We had one less scoring wrestler than Platte and sometimes you’ve got to give credit to a program that historically has done things like this. They did a great job. We’ve got mistakes to fix but we’ve got time. Usually we’ve got three days and then we are in a hotel (for state). Now we’ve got two weeks to get better and it feels great to take all 12 guys to sectionals.”

The paths of Platte County and Fort Osage didn’t cross during the regular season, but they were the two most dominant teams in the new-look district.

Platte County went a perfect 6-for-6 in title matches, while Fort Osage won 3-of-8 finals but were 0-3 head-to-head against the Pirates.

Rylan Mansfield (113), Jeremiah Phillips (160) and Stevie Gabb (285) each earned titles for the Indians.

Mansfield (26-2), a freshman, recorded pins in his first two matches and won an 8-1 decision over Smithville’s Jeremiah Boone in the finals. 

Phillips (26-7) had only two matches and won both by decision. He edged Smithville’s Riley Brown 2-0 in the final thanks to a reversal in the second period.

“I have never been able to experience winning a district title, let alone get out of district, so this is definitely a big step,” Phillips said. “It was tough. I had never wrestled him before so I adapted more of a passive (approach). It was definitely close and I had to come battle all the way through.”

Gabb, ranked No. 3 in Class 3 by MissouriWrestling.com, had little issues in picking up the title in the heavyweight division.

Gabb (35-4) reached the district finals for the second time and earned his first title by pinning his way to the crown. In the finals, he won by fall over Van Horn’s Mason Igou in 2:39 – his third pin but the first match to go into the second period.

Fort Osage’s other two ranked wrestlers — Jesse Newton and David Jacquez — lost in the finals. Newton (152/ranked No. 6) lost to No. 3-ranked Ben Locke of Kearney by a pin in the third period. Jacquez (25-10), ranked No. 6, was upset by unranked Jaydon Walls of Platte County (32-2) with a second-period pin.

In other head-to-head matches with Platte County, Blaine Keuhn pinned returning Fort Osage state qualifier Daniel Tapusoa (170), and Bryan Herrera (138) dropped a 7-2 decision to Jared Parsons despite taking an early 2-0 lead.

Dylan Reed (126). Fort Osage’s only other finalist, suffered a 1-0 loss to Smithville’s Alex Hutchcraft. Kyle LeHotta (120) and Gavin Gallman (182) placed third, while John Newton (132) and Landon Lamb (145) finished fourth to advance.

Neither John Newton nor Lamb wrestled in any varsity tournaments this season.

“Everyone contributed and we were in the race until the end,” Wackerman said. “I’m proud of the balance. Not one person won us second and not one person lost us first place. We just got beat by a better team today.”

Despite taking only seven to the meet, William Chrisman will have six still standing going into sectionals. The highest finish came from senior Mason Walters (182), who lost a 5-3 decision to Platte County freshman Jake Fernandez. Walters (34-7) is vying to become a four-time state qualifier.

William Chrisman's Mason Walters, right, tangles with Platte County's Jake Fernandez in their 182-pound final in the Class 3 District 8 tournament Saturday at Kearney High School. Walters lost 5-3 but advanced to sectionals with a second-place finish.

“It’s not a loss we want to have but if you take a loss, do it this round of the postseason and come back for sectionals,” Chrisman coach Riley Glasgow said. “We can clean up a few things and maybe get the one seed going into state.”

Chrisman closed with three straight wins as the Campos brothers – Andru (195) and Nathan (220) — and Brandon Rue (285) all won their third-place matches. Riley Ragan (106) and Nathan Hamilton (113) also advanced for the Bears by placing fourth.

Van Horn ended the day with two runners-up, a third- and fourth-place finisher, moving half of the eight that came to the next round.

Along with Igou, Ethan Moses (120) reached the finals but lost 5-1 to Smithville’s Kolby McClain (30-1), who is ranked No. 6.

Darrius Paige (126) went 1-1, ending with a pin in 54 seconds over Platte County’s Brody Lueders. The freshman’s only loss came to Fort Osage’s Reed. CJ Nelson (182) placed fourth, falling to Fort Osage’s Gallman in the third-place match.

“We’ve got a good chance to get all weights to keep it going (to state),” Van Horn coach Craig Addison said.