Hard work, focus and confidence have propelled
two Platte County teams to the top of their wrestling
The Platte County Pirates returned from the Hearnes
Center in Columbia on Sunday with the school district's
fourth state wrestling championship in six years.
Meanwhile, the Park Hill Trojans brought home
their third Class 3 championship in the districts
Eleven Pirates helped the school clinch its Class
2 state title by 33 points over Oak Grove.
In the 103 pound weight class, freshman Kendall
Burns finished sixth; at 112 pounds, senior Ahmed
Shalabi placed sixth; freshman Tyler St. Louis
at 119 pounds became the state champion as he
clinched his weight class.
At 130 pounds, senior Michael Dunkum also was
named the Class 2 state champ for his class, in
the 135 weight bracket, senior Julian Gunnels
became state champ.
140 pound sophomore Dakota Fowler failed to place,
but did aid his team by scoring points; 160 pound
senior Jeremy Butrous finished second in his weight
class while 171 pound junior; Joe Henson placed
Both state qualifiers, sophomore Jake Guthier
at 189 pounds and 215 pound junior David Sheetz
didnt place. To round out the Pirate qualifiers,
275 pound junior Jake Mallonee grabbed a state
These kids worked hard all year long, they
stayed focused and did everything we asked them
to do, and it paid off, said wrestling head
coach Phil Dorman.
We won eight of eleven matches our first
day, and the second day we won eight of eight
matches taking us into the final round. We ended
up winning by 33 points and in wrestling thats
a pretty good marginand it all goes back
to the kids staying focused.
The Pirates, who were 9-0 in duals this season
and district champions, were also very successful
this year in area tournaments. They placed third
at the Park Hill duals out of 24 teams, won the
Shawnee Mission North Tournament, placed fifth
out of 24 teams from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma,
and Iowa at the Lees Summit Christmas Tourney,
finished second at the Shawnee Mission South Tourney,
and placed second at the Platte County Tournament.
Dorman said in his opinion, his coaching staff
is one of the best in the state.'
Assistant wrestling coach Reggie Burress, who
has been with the program since 1998, has been
able to share in all of the Pirates' wrestling
Hes been a big part of the program,
and this program is just as much his program as
it is mine, said Dorman.
Third year assistant coach Rick Frazier saw his
first title last weekend with the Pirates, though
Frazier is accustomed to state titles being a
two-time state wrestling champion in high school.
Gabe Middleton, in his first year with the Pirates,
was fortunate to experience a championship caliber
team in his rookie coaching season with R-3. Dorman
referred to Middleton as a good young coach."
Volunteer coach Jason Buxton has been with the
team since 2002 working with the lower weights
of the team. Buxton was a division one wrestler
for the University of Nebraska.
They need to be given a lot of credit for
what goes on in the room. One thing I learned
is that if you surround yourself with good people,
then good things will happen, stated Dorman.
With four championships over the past six years,
a successful wrestling program has become a tradition
for the R-3 community.
I think the kids understand that this is
a tradition and that its our goal every
year. And its been a tradition the kids
try and live up to, said Dorman.
While the state championship may be becoming
a tradition, the title teaches the kids a valuable
lesson both in and out of school.
What this teaches the kids is that when
they work hard and stay focused, that both in
and out of school theyre rewarded for it,
The conference and district champ Trojans' state
tournament trip was spurred by a 8-1 season in
duals and successful wins in the Jefferson City
Invitational Tournament and Oakville Duals.
Our season overall started off pretty average
and continued to get better as the season went
on, wrestling head coach Bill Erneste. By
the end of the season, we had came together and
peaked at the same time.
Nine wrestlers helped Park Hill clinch its third
state title, with five individuals named state
125 pound senior Ryan Moyer, 130 pound sophomore
Corey Carr, and twin brothers-135 pound junior
Eric Graham and 140 pound Brian Graham were all
named state champions in their respective weight
145 pound junior, Brett Moyer finished in the
top eight, sophomore, Robbie Hicklin placed second
in the 152 pound weight class, senior Sean Miller
was named the state champion at the 189 pound
weight class, 215 pound junior Kyle Rose placed
second, and junior heavyweight, Chris Miller finished
in the top eight.
We had a careful confidence
going into state, said Erneste. We
were confident we could do it, but careful we
didnt overlook anyone.
While the team carried that careful confidence
with them into Columbia, Ernestes expectations
were still exceeded.
I think our success exceeded my expectations,
but I know the guys worked hard for years for
this and they peaked at the right time,
stated Erneste. The kids were amazing. When
they stepped into the Hearnes Center, they knew
why they were there. We knew we had one common
goal and that was the state championship and we
werent going to be denied that.
Erneste also shared that the state tournament
took on a special meaning to his team.
One guy on our team three weeks ago was
diagnosed with testicular cancer. So starting
then, our team decided to win state, said
Erneste. The championship was for Sparky
and not for themselves and the team decided to
give him the trophy so he knew he was fighting
the good fight.
Erneste added, His deal is real life, and
we wanted him to know that he was with us and
we were with him.
Erneste, who has been Park Hills wrestling
head coach for seven years, shares the same sentiments
about his assistant coaching staff as Dorman does
I have probably the best assistant coaches
in the state and our administration helps us tremendously.
Our assistant coaches are the real deal,
Park Hills assistant coaching staff is:
heavyweight coach Bryan Elan, middle weight coach
Joe Gonier, lightweight coach Mike Tuck, and special
assistant coach Ryan Campbell, who Erneste said
takes the kids special skills on the mat and works
with them to utilize their abilities.
Hes probably the reason Corey Carr
won the state championship as a sophomore,
With the success the team had this year, the
coach said he is hopeful for next season.
Im hopeful for next year and our
goal stays the same each year, its just
if you achieve it or not.