Estes takes state championship after lifetime of work, Stephens makes first appearance on MO state mat


Madilyn Gardner

Senior Kolby Estes jumps into the arms of his father and coach after being declared the state champion in the class 152 weight class. Estes won second in state both his sophomore and junior years.

   In his fourth trip to Mizzou Arena for State Championship Wrestling Tournament, senior wrestler Kolby Estes was able to accomplish his ultimate high school goal: a first-place Class 1 medal.

  Joined by sophomore Colby Stephens on Feb. 14-16, Estes won his first two rounds by fall in the 152 weight class. In the semifinals, Estes  won by tech fall over Creed Webster of Mid-Buchanan, which qualified him for the championship round. He won the championship by decision over Matthew Schueddig of Whitfield.

     “Kolby winning a state championship was one of the best feelings that a coach could have.  He has worked so hard year round to accomplish this title. You love to see all that hard work pay off for him,” coach Jared Steenburgen said.

  Estes finally accomplished his goal of eleven years, getting first place in state. After starting in the sport at the age of four, then transitioning to competing at the age of five, the achievement of his goal of obtaining the state wrestling title was a huge accomplishment for Estes.

  In his early years before high school, the young athlete qualified and went to youth championships an outstanding eleven times, placing eight times out of the eleven. Once into high school wrestling, Estes soon made a name for himself qualifying for state his freshman year. He fell short his freshman year to then come back with redemption sophomore and junior years making great improvements and taking second in state both years. But still, this was very disappointing to Estes because first place was very much his main priority. This made winning state his senior year that much more rewarding.

   Because Estes set out for his goal in his younger years, it gave him plenty of time to establish a step-by-step plan to succeed.

  “My plan for achieving my goal of being a state champ was just to trust in the process I had, which was going into practices and working my butt off and living as good and healthy as I could on and off the mat,”

  Estes went on to explain that it takes more work than just putting in time at practice.

   “It wasn’t just about what you do to be the best on the mat, it’s also about how you live your life off the mat as well,” he said.

  Hard work and dedication clearly pays off in the end in Estes case.

  “The best part of ending my high school career was achieving a goal that I have worked so hard to achieve for so long. Winning state title in high school is something I have envisioned ever since I ended eighth grade it’s what I’ve worked for ever since,” Estes said.

  The young athlete’s father and coach, Lance Estes, played a big role in encouraging Kolby in his younger years and throughout his growth and success.

  “Growing up in a wrestling family is not like any other. When Kolby was born, I was still involved with wrestling from officiating to volunteering at practice, so you could say that he was on the mat from day one. He was bridging before he was crawling and, from the first time he stepped on the mat, he had a desire to know more and to perfect what he was being taught. I introduced him to the sport, but he had a personal drive to want and to do more. I merely shared my knowledge and put the people in his path that would be able to enhance his God given ability, like Mike Eierman. Kolby’s dedication got him to where he is today,” Lance Estes said.

  Estes will continue to wrestle at Campbell University in North Carolina.

  Sophomore Colby Stephens, also attended the state meet. This being his first time attending in high school, Stephens says that he was nervous, but eager. Having past experience as well with wrestling definitely helped out with overcoming nervousness.

  Stephens (285) won his first round by fall over Jordan Carter from Kennett, advancing to quarterfinals, but fell short to Brooks Baker from Brookfield then, and then lost the wrestle back round to Thomas Tharp of West Platte by fall.  Stephens was honored to make it to the state tournament.

 “It was a great feeling like all that hard work that I did finally paid off,” Stephens said.

  Growing up, Stephens attended many state meets. Starting out practicing at age three, he soon made his way to the big matches at age four, attending Kansas State and not placing. Then returning to Kansas State the following year, at age six, and winning the Kansas State Wrestling Championship in 2010. Following up with the state champion title and returning the next two years at ages seven and eight, Stephens fell short and received third place both years.

  “Colby Stephens making it to the state tournament was awesome. He has so much talent and making it to the tournament will just help build him up mentally, which is what all underclassmen struggle with,” Steenburgen said.

  Stephens father had a big impact in his wrestling career as well. Always encouraging his son to pursue the sport he had once thrived in as well. This included traveling to far away tournaments, making sure Stephens always had the gear and needed and, most importantly, just being an overall support system for the young athlete starting out.

  “I’m grateful my dad started me out young and showed me how to work hard to get to the top. I wouldn’t be where I’m at now without him to look up to,” Stephens said.