COLUMBIA — The Blair Oaks Falcons had three state medalists in the Class 1 state wrestling championships, and all three recorded at least one win in Saturday's last day of competition at Mizzou Arena.
"Getting three guys (to medal) was what we were hoping for," Blair Oaks coach Mike DeMilia said. "We knew it would be a tough road, and you always think about the 'what ifs,' but the three guys that got in were well deserving."
Blair Oaks senior Ben Thomas went 2-0 at 160 pounds, finishing in third place for his first state medal.
"I've been working real hard all year," Thomas said. "I wanted to take on (Lawson's) Tyler (Ross) in the finals. It didn't happen, but I'm satisfied with third place."
Thomas had to bounce back from Friday night's 3-2 overtime loss to Whitfield's Chase Brock, who lost by fall to Ross in the championship match.
"I didn't expect the legs at all coming from him," Thomas said of Brock. "Whitfield's an outstanding team and they wrestle higher-level schools all year. Anytime you wrestle on of those guys, you have to expect anything."
Thomas opened the day with a pin in 2:40 against Plattsburg's Klayton Kennedy in the fourth-round wrestlebacks, cruising to a 7-0 lead before getting the fall. It was Thomas' 30th pin of the season.
"The last day's always hard," Thomas said. "You try to finish strong."
In the third-place match, Thomas finished his high-school career with a win with a 9-3 decision against Holden's Jack Sullins, who was ranked No. 5 in the state by MissouriWrestling.com.
Thomas broke a tie at 2 with a takedown late in the second period, then recorded five more points in the final two minutes with an escape and a pair of takedowns.
Thomas, who will play football in the fall at Truman State, finished his senior season with a 44-4 record and was ranked No. 2 in the state. He was a two-time state qualifier, falling a win short of getting a state medal last season.
"Everybody he lost to was either a state runner-up or a state champion," DeMilia said. "He was awesome."
Blair Oaks' other two state medalists will return next season.
Junior Caleb Meeks won 5-3 against Lathrop's Andrew Beane in the fourth-round wrestlebacks at 132. Meeks got a 3-point nearfall late in the second period and never trailed in the third.
"You have to remember, he was in a wheelchair a year ago," DeMilia said of Meeks. "A year ago. That's amazing."
In the third-place match, Meeks lost by major decision to Knob Noster's Conner Johnston, ending his season with a 48-10 record and his first state medal.
"I didn't sleep much last night because of (his semifinal match)," DeMilia said of Meeks' Friday night match against Polo's Wyatt Segar, a 9-7 loss. "I thought he had him pinned in the second period, and he had the lead in the third period.
"His effort was awesome."
For the second straight season, Blair Oaks junior Kyler Griep finished his season with a win.
Griep lost by fall in 3:00 in the fourth-round wrestlebacks to Whitfield's Zachart Russell, who is ranked No. 1 in the state at 170.
Later in the day, Griep bounced back to win an 8-7 decision against Gallatin's Drayton Harris, who is ranked No. 4, in the fifth-place match.
Griep had a 5-0 lead midway through the second period, but Harris tied the score with a reversal and a 3-point nearfall. In the third period, Harris had another reversal to tie the score at 7, but Griep got an escape with 1:01 left and held on for the one-point win.
"I thought 170 was one of the toughest classes in the state," DeMilia said. "The kid he beat for fifth place today was undefeated until last weekend. It was just loaded with good guys."
Griep, ranked No. 6 in the state, finished the season with a 34-4 record. The two-time state medalist placed third at 152 last season.
"He still has some improving to do," DeMilia said. " But he's right there. He's got a chance to do a lot of special things next year."
In the final Class 1 team standings, Blair Oaks finished 12th out of 56 schools with 55 points.
"We only had four seniors this year, so most of our team comes back," DeMilia said. "Everyone's going to be a year older, a year wiser. Hopefully that'll make everyone in our room tougher.
"Hopefully we can bring more guys down (next year) and get a couple more medalists, maybe get a couple guys in the finals."
Whitfield finished with 192 points to win its third straight Class 1 team state championship, and eighth overall in program history. Seneca was second with 126.5 points, followed by Lathrop in third with 122 points and Lawson fourth with 107.