A pair of heralded freshman and junior Eli Rocha all claimed first-place finishes in Platte County’s first competitive action of the season this past Saturday. The trio of individual championships helped the Pirates finish third out of five varsity teams with a shorthanded lineup in the Smithville Tournament.
In a round robin format, Platte County freshmen Caden Hulett (106 pounds) and Jake Fernandez (182 pounds) went 3-0, while Rocha (145 pounds) — a two-time Class 3 medalist — finished 4-0.
Hulett opened with a tight 5-2 decision over Staley’s Craig Omozeje then followed with a 15-0 technical fall against Smithville’s Trent Hallett. That set up a decisive match for first place in the third round with Logan Mainard of Blue Springs South. Hulett took the match and the first tournament title of his promising career with a second-period fall.
Fernandez never reached the third period in three matches. He pinned all three of his opponents, and that included a second-period fall in his opener against Smithville’s Nick Lawson in 2 minutes, 33 seconds. The longest match for Fernandez ended with a pin in 3:13 against Tyson Day of Staley.
Rocha sandwiched a pair of first-minute falls around two dominant technical falls. He opened with an 18-2 victory over Smithville’s Nate Lawhon with the winning points awarded at the end of the first period, and Rocha needed 4:43 to win 18-3 over Staley’s Kolton Reis in his final match. Reis finished second.
Platte County totaled 98½ points despite being without at least four expected contributors, who were playing in the Class 5 Show-Me Bowl with the football team on the same day. The Pirates will wait for juniors Jared Parsons, Ben McDaniel, Blaine Keuhn and Jaydon Walls and senior Jesse Schillinger to be ready before being at full strength.
Staley won the team title with 176½ points, and Staley was second at 145.
Platte County senior Drake Lacina, the only other returning state qualifier in the lineup, placed second at 170, going 3-1. He had a pair of first period pins and a 13-6 division over Staley’s Kaden Trickey. However, Zander Dombrowski of Blue Springs South won a 7-2 decision in what turned out to be the decisive match at that weight group.
Notably, Platte County freshman Shane Leary placed third in a six-man bracket at 126. The included a 3-2 decision over freshman junior varsity teammate Brody Lueders. The pair will likely be competing for a spot throughout the season.