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A three-peat performance

Platte County edges Oak Grove by one point to win state. Again.

by Kim Fickett
Landmark editor

Team effort and hard work prevailed for the Platte County Pirates wrestling team on Saturday as they clinched their third straight Class 1A-2A state championship. A one point differential was enough to knock off Oak Grove 178.5 to 177.5.

"I'll tell you who won the title for us and that's the wrestlebacks," stated Phil Dorman, Pirate wrestling head coach. "I told them that if you don't keep us close in the consolation side of the bracket, it doesn't matter what the guys in the finals do. Ultimately those four kids are the ones who won the tiles for us."

After being down five points to Oak Grove entering the finals, the Pirates' determination came shining through as they were faced with winning all four of their final matches and gaining as many extra points as possible.

And that's exactly what Platte County did. Oak Grove the team the Pirates knew they had to beat, lost a key match at 171 pounds, setting up the Pirates for a key winning opportunity.

Winning the first two of their matches placed senior Zach Sherman at 189 pounds on deck to face Plattsburg's senior Justin Talley.

Sherman walked away from the match capturing his second state title, gaining a major decision 11-3 over Talley, setting up teammate and two-time defending state champion Chase Verdoorn for a crucial match

Verdoorn's wrestling career nearly came to an end earlier in the season after an accident left him with a broken hip and tibia, a separated shoulder, two small fractures in his pelvis and a broken nose. Seven weeks were stripped from Verdoorn's wrestling season until getting the okay from physicians to wrestle for districts.

"He told me not too long after his accident that he'd be back. I was very optimistic because of his mentality but I also prepared the team for the chance he may not have returned," said Dorman.

Several months following the accident, the Platte County senior was at the Hearnes Center in Columbia set to face a previous competitor, Lawson's Derek Lampkin. Despite remaining not pinned by Verdoorn within the first three minutes of the match, like other fallen competitors throughout the season, Lampkin fell to Verdoorn in a 9-6 decision.

The Platte County senior walked away with his third straight championship and clinched the third state title for the Platte County Pirates. Verdoorn also became the school's all-time wins leader Friday evening and became the first three-time state champion in Platte County's history.

"We worked hard for this all year long. And this year's was harder than the last two, which in a way made it sweeter," stated Dorman. "It showed what these kids are made of because they were faced with having to score extra points in the end to get the title and that's what they did."

While some of the team's top athletes are graduating this year, Dorman feels confident about the team's chances next year.

"Our goal is always going to be winning the state title and that's never going to change," said Dorman. "Brock Wittmeyer, Nick Jaros and Jason Callaway are some of the top caliber kids returning next year and two state place winners returning also.

"We're going to prepare the team the best we can and make a run at number four."