Rampley finds perfection

Sunday, February 19, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- This wasn't what Kamden Rampley had imagined.

It wasn't on his mind every time he took the mat. Going undefeated and winning a state championship were things that would be nice if they happened, but just carrying on the excellent tradition of Jackson wrestling, for him, was enough. Placing at state for the second consecutive season would have been fantastic.

But when the 215-pounder got here to the Mizzou Arena this year, he kept winning. The 5-foot-8 dynamo kept knocking off everyone they threw his way. Finally, he found himself in the Class 4 championship match, staring across the mat at the only thing between him, a state championship and a perfect season.

His name was John Ott of Blue Springs, a man who Rampley owned a pair of wins against already this season.

Would the third time be the charm?

"I beat him by two once and by one once," Rampley said. "I went into the match nervous, I'll admit that."

Because they'd done this dance before, Rampley worried that Ott may have had his style down. That, just maybe, somewhere between their last meeting, he'd found the magic move that could end Rampley's run at history.

Sitting at 53-0, Rampley was already the new Missouri State High School Activities Association single season wins leader. His semifinal win had broken the mark set by Jackson's Cody Rouse and Blue Springs' Louis Caputo last year.

But that was the furthest thing from Rampley's mind. Instead, his focus was strictly on keeping his technique solid and his feet quick. He'd learned in their previous matches that Ott was stronger. Yet Rampley could overcome that deficiency.

"He was stronger than me," Rampley said. "But with good technique and quickness, you can overcome that."

The match began as a stalemate, as neither man could force his will upon the other. Instead, the two bulls danced around the mat with their arms locked around each other's heads. Through the first two periods the only point scored was when Ott allowed Rampley up from his down position.

At the start of the third period Rampley did the same, knotting the bout at 1-1.

"It was a battle of brutes," Jackson wrestling coach Steve Wachter said. "It was a high intensity match."

With 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining in the bout Rampley broke through. He scored the first takedown, earning himself some breathing room.

"It was the difference in the match," Rampley said.

"Scoring the first takedown is huge in any match, but up here [at state], it's really huge," Wachter said.

With a 3-1 cushion Rampley was able to lay back and make Ott press. With time running down and Ott forcing the issue, Rampley was able to counterattack and score another takedown with 33 seconds remaining, pushing the score to 5-2.

As the bout neared it's end, Rampley was able to add another two points to his lead, winning the championship 7-3.

Afterward, in the bowels of the Mizzou Arena, Rampley took congratulatory hugs, handshakes and well-wishes. He couldn't believe he'd etched his name into history. He was still dumbfounded by the fact he'd run his record to 54-0, that he'd finished his season as a state champion. For Rampley, it wasn't just one season's worth of work that earned him this honor. It was a culmination of lessons taught throughout his wrestling education. All of his work through all those years had paid off.

"Thirteen years of wrestling for those 6 minutes," he said, then he smiled. "I'm glad it turned out the way it did."

Noteworthy

* Rampley also put his name in the record book by becoming the 12th son to win a state championship after his father. Kevin Rampley won his state championship at Jackson in 1977.

* At 54-0, Rampley set the record for the best single-season record in state history. Jackson's Cody Rouse was one of two wrestlers to finish 52-0 last year.

* Jackson senior Sean Gant took fourth place at 152-pounds. He was beaten Saturday morning 7-3 by Oak Park's Ray Hall. Gant ended the season with a 38-10 record.

In Class 3 action Cape Central had a pair of medalists as juniors Tyler Yeargan, 130-pounds, and Garrett New, 152-pounds, both took sixth place. Yeargan finished his season at 37-12 while New was 34-15. Fellow junior Matt Latham lost in overtime one match shy of the medal rounds. He finished his season at 30-19.

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