When the Liberty High boys wresting team begins the season in just over two weeks, it will starting a path toward winning its third-straight state championship.
The Blue Jays dominated the Class 4 state meet the past two years, winning their first two program titles. Last years, the Blue Jays scored 226 points, nearly doubling the state runner-up’s score of 117. In 2020, they scored 241 – almost 100 ahead of second place’s score of 146.5.
Those championships came after Liberty placed second by just 10 points to Christian Brothers College.
When asked what motivates his team after winning back-to-back state titles, Liberty coach Dustin Brewer said his squad wants to keep the streak going. That’s all the motivations the Blue Jays need.
“I think every year we try to strive to be better,” Brewer said. “The boys want to win another state title and keep the tradition going.”
The Blue Jays are led by eight returning state placers from a year ago. That includes three defending state champions.
Christopher Coates won the 120-pound title as a freshman last year. Coates is also a Cadet Fargo runner-up. Brewer projects Coates to be competing at 132 pounds this season.
“Christopher holds position better than most kids his age and is very wrestling savvy,” Brewer said. “We continue to push him and watch him grow.”
Kyle Dutton and Wentric Williams III both won state titles as junior last season, winning the 145- and 182-pound championships, respectively. This year, they are projected to wrestle at 145 and 195.
“Both are very talented,” Brewer said. “I am excited to watch all of our seniors finish out their high school careers successfully.”
The other returning state placers are sophomore Hunter Taylor (113), junior Cooper Rider (120), senior Easton Hilton (138), senior Logan Rathjen (152) and senior Jeremiah Cabuyaban (285). Hilton did win a state title as a freshman in 2019, before placing fourth and third the past two years.
Brewer projects several freshman who could impact his lineup this season. Those include Devon Harrison, who is a Cadet Fargo Freestyle All-American, at 106, Jaxon Hicks at 126, Peyton Westphal, a Cadet Freestyle All-American, at 160 and Trenton Bindel at 220. The 170 weight class is up for grabs between a few Blue Jays, while senior Jeremiah Halter is penciled in at 182, and he’s a returning state qualifier at 160 last year.
“I feel good about our line up,” Brewer said. “We have a bunch of Seniors with some good younger guys coming in. I think our four freshman will be very tough.”
The Blue Jays are set to open the season Dec. 1 at Kearney. Their first home match will be Dec. 14 against Blue Springs South and Lee’s Summit North
– story by Jimmy Gillispie