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Thomas captures district crown for Falcons

Thomas captures district crown for Falcons

February 10th, 2019 by News Tribune in Sports Prep

KNOB NOSTER, Mo. — Ben Thomas won an individual district title Saturday to lead the Blair Oaks Falcons in the Class 1 District 2 Tournament.

Thomas is one of six Blair Oaks wrestlers to qualify for the Class 1 state tournament, which begins Thursday at Mizzou Arena.

"As a coach you always hope to get a couple more, but we're pretty happy," Blair Oaks coach Mike DeMilia said. "We got three last year to state. To get six this year is pretty good."

Thomas, seeded first at 160 pounds, opened Day 2 of competition with a 6-4 win in the semifinals to clinch a spot at state. He then picked up a 7-1 victory against Butler's Jaden Heckadon in the championship match for his first district title.

Thomas, ranked No. 2 in the state, improved his season record to 40-3 with Saturday's wins.

He's had a great year," DeMilia said. "He's wrestled some tough guys. He had a tough semifinal match, grinded through and took care of business in the final."

Kyler Griep finished runner-up at 170, going 2-1 at districts.

Griep won by fall in 4:43 in the semifinals to clinch a spot at state. He then dropped a 7-2 decision to Seneca's Dayton Fields in the title match to fall to 30-2 this season.

Blair Oaks finished 2-2 in third-place matches at districts, getting wins from Caleb Meeks at 132 and Eli Batiste at 145.

Meeks lost a 1-0 decision in the semifinals, but he bounced back with back-to-back pins to finish third. He won by fall in 4:27 in the consolation semifinals, then won by fall in 2:51 against Diamond's John Odom in the third-place match to improve to 45-8.

"He was disappointed in losing that semifinal match, but he's been steady for us this year," DeMilia said. "He's a hard worker who does what it takes to win."

Batiste also lost in the semifinals, dropping a 12-0 decision. He then won back-to-back matches by 6-4 scores in the consolation finals and third-place match, beating Holden's Pake Schmoeger to take third and move to 36-20.

Rounding out Blair Oaks' state qualifiers are Jayce Griggs at 120 and Levi Haney at 152, each finishing fourth.

Haney lost 7-3 in the semifinals, then punched his ticket to state with an 11-2 win in the consolation semifinals. He lost 7-4 to Holden's Amani Graybill in the third-place match, falling to 30-10.

Griggs had to work his way through the wrestlebacks to get into the top-4 at districts. Griggs won by fall in :50 in his first match of the day, then held off Diamond's Triston Kralicek for a 6-5 win in the consolation semifinals to clinch a spot at state before losing 7-4 in the third-place match.

"He manned up, took it head-on and won two matches in a row," DeMilia said of Griggs. "He said the two minutes in the third period (against Kralicek) were two of the most nerve-wracking minutes of his life."

Griggs holds a 28-24 record, going 2-2 at districts.

Blair Oaks had three wrestlers come up one win short of advancing to state with losses in the consolation semifinals.

Zach McCarty lost by fall at 113 to finish 1-2 at districts, while Caden Killday was pinned in the second period after getting back-to-back wins to go 2-2 for the weekend at 138. Shane Gillmore also began Saturday with two wins by fall before losing by a second-period pin to finish 2-2 at 195.

Austin Baumhoer finished 1-2 at 126 and Adam Jurgensmeyer also went 1-2 at 182.

Connor Wilson at 220 (0-2) and Austin Lange at 285 (1-2) both lost in their only wrestleback matches Saturday.

Blair Oaks finished fifth in the district team standings with 118 points. Seneca won the district title with 177.5 points, while Knob Noster was second with 134. Versailles took third with 130.5 points and Diamond placed fourth with 121.