by Michael Smith
It was a Senior Night to remember for the Grain Valley wrestling team.
On the gym floor, were big letters and numbers that lit up that read “GVHS 2023.” There also was a blue blow up tunnel to help give the Eagles flashy entrances to their matches.
It was an ideal setting for a senior class that includes Brock Smith, Dru Azcona, Tanner Barker, Andrew Czeschin and Tyler Groves as they have been the heart and soul of the team.
They showed why in Wednesday’s dual against Suburban White Conference foe Belton at home.
All five seniors picked up victories as the No. 6-ranked Eagles highlighted a 54-21 rout of the Pirates.
“They all got good wins and they are good kids,” Grain Valley head coach Donald Horner said. “I am really going to miss them. I really appreciate them welcoming me into the community and believing in me. Today shows they are buying in and that speaks volumes to their character.”
The wrestling the seniors did on the mat spoke volumes, as well.
Smith reflected on his four years with the Grain Valley program after he jumped out to an 11-2 lead against Aidan Moody before using a head and arm to force his opponent’s shoulders to the mat for a pin in 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Smith said of it being one of the last times he will wrestle at home. “Today it is just another match. I enjoyed my four years at Grain Valley and I will miss it for sure.”
Before he went through the tunnel, Smith was stretching the straps of his singlet at a rapid pace, getting hyped up for his match.
“I was just trying to feel the crowd. It was a great crowd,” Smith said. “This is the most packed I have seen. I am grateful to have this on Senior Night.”
Barker (165) shared similar sentiments as Smith for it being a “just another match” for him, even on Senior Night.
He controlled his match from start to finish as he came away with a 9-5 victory against Quinten Attebury. During the bout, Barker used shot fakes to set up his single-leg takedowns and he perfectly timed his sprawls to evade shot attempts from his opponent.
Against Attebury, Barker had a somewhat difficult time getting to his offense, however.
“I can’t really do much when a kid is stalling,” Barker said. “I have to make him work and be the most dominant guy out there. I don’t like when someone is not working.”
Azona, like Barker, had a tough match. The senior was facing one of the better wrestlers in the Kansas City area in the 132-pound weight class – Lane Cross. He made a second-period takedown and escape hold up, as he rode out Cross in the third to take a 3-0 decision.
Groves (144) had a short Senior Night match as he hooked a cradle to pin Diego Suarez in 27 seconds. Andrew Czeschin (235) got a forfeit victory.
Other Eagles to earn victories were Zac Bleess (113) by a 22-second pin; Gavin Parks (120) by forfeit; Aden Kinser (150) by pin in 1:43 and Landen Marriott (157) by pin in 2:57.
The Grain Valley girls wrestling team had just one win in a contested match as it fell 60-24 to Belton.
Jayden Moehle was the lone Eagle to win a contested match as she pinned Emily Kilpatrick in the second period after trailing 5-0.
“I tried to grab her head and leg and I tripped over my own feet,” Moehle said of the moment when Kilpatrick to the 5-0 lead. “I landed on my back but I kept moving and got off my back.
“I got her down and got her into a chicken wing and got the pin.”
Severeign Aumua (140), Mckenzie Davis (125) and Adalia Del Real (170) each won by forfeit for the Eagles.
Grain Valley senior Tanner Barker makes a flashy entrance before winning his match 9-5 against Belton Quinten Attebury. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Tyler Groves makes his way through the tunnel on his way to the mat. He pinned Belton's Diego Suarez in 27 seconds. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Brock Smith gets his hand raised by the referee after getting a second-period pin against Belton's Aidan Moody. Photo credit: Michael Smith