Déjà vu can be an amazing feeling.
It certainly was for the Blue Springs wrestling team Saturday night at the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena. The Wildcats capped their season in the exact fashion they closed last year: by hoisting the Class 4 championship trophy.
Blue Springs repeated as state champs by accumulating 164 points to hold off Park Hill (144). Lee’s Summit West was the only other Jackson County school to place in the top 20 as the Titans totaled 43 points to come in 13th.
The path the Wildcats took to the crown mirrored last season’s. With four wrestlers in the finals, Blue Springs left with three individual titles. The three who triumphed were repeat champs. And they did so emphatically as sophomore Daniel Lewis captured the 126-pound title with a 16-0 technical fall over Jefferson City’s Cole Baumgartner, junior Darick Lapaglia pinned Nixa’s Marshall Phelan at 138 and senior Greg Hegarty (145) pinned Wentzville Holt’s Clayton Ream.
Lewis’ and Hegarty’s dominance was even more impressive considering their victories came against opponents they’d struggled against earlier in the season. Lewis wrestled two matches against Baumgartner that were decided by one takedown and Hegarty split a pair of matches with Ream – the defeat being his only blemish in a 48-1 season.
“My God they competed,” Blue Springs coach Mike Hagerty said. “To go out and get two falls and a tech fall in the finals, that’s unheard of.”
Hagerty was just as complimentary of 170-pound senior Chris Lattner, who left with a second-place finish after dropping an 8-3 decision to Francis Howell’s Jarrett Franklin.
“His competitive spirit was there,” Hagerty said. “He was going after it, and that’s what we want.”
Hagerty went on to compare his squad to an iceberg. Saturday’s performance – with all eight remaining Wildcats earning top-four placings – was the climax everyone will remember. But it was the resiliency and work throughout a season in which he frequently served up harsh criticisms that made the championship finish possible.
“All the work, everything that goes on underneath is really what did this,” Hagerty said. “It wasn’t just about eight guys showing up and having a great weekend. It was about these guys that have done so much throughout the entire year, and even the summer. All that culminates here.”
Similarly, it wasn’t just the four finalists who ensured the Wildcats left Columbia with the program’s fourth championship. Michael Pixley scored a third-place finish at 160 with an 8-1 decision over Park Hill’s Malik Colding, and Kyle Brown (195), Austin Reyes (220) and Jacob Clark (285) all garnered fourth-place efforts.