COLUMBIA — Drae Cox of Hickman was hoping to avoid a reversal of fortune from the last time he faced Fort Zumwalt West’s R.J. McCravy. Instead, a key reversal won him the match.
Cox, a 152-pound senior, defeated McCravy 3-1 last Saturday in the semifinals of the district meet in Jefferson City. The rematch, which was a state semifinal at Mizzou Arena, needed double overtime to determine a winner.
Coach J.D. Coffman said he expected it to be close after their previous match was a 3-1 decision for Cox. Cox fell behind early and didn’t have the lead until he earned a reversal, worth two points, in the second overtime.
“He had in his mind how the match was going to go,” Coffman said.
Just minutes before the match, he stood in the tunnel of Mizzou Arena listening to music with his headphones to pump himself up. Cox’s goal since finishing fourth last year in the same weight class was to win state this year.
“It’s a big deal for him,” Coffman said. “That’s what he has worked for in the spring, summer, and fall.”
Cox trailed 4-3 late in the 3rd period when McCravy was penalized for stalling, tying the match at four. The first overtime, which was a one-minute period where the first wrestler to score a point wins, was a stalemate. After that, each wrestler gets a 30 second period where they begin the period in the down position. Generally, an one-point escape would be positive for a wrestler. However, Cox pulled off a two-point reversal in his down period, making a comeback by McCravy very difficult.
“That’s a huge swing,” Coffman said of the reversal.
In his first match of the day, Cox defeated Dan Capp of Winnetonka 11-4 in the quarterfinals. Next up for Cox, 45-1, is Brian Oechsner, 46-0, of Troy Buchanan. It will be another district rematch for Cox, whose only defeat on the season came against Oechsner in the final of that tournament. Oechsner dominated in a 9-2 victory then. Oechsner has won his three state tournament matches by injury default, technical fall in the quarterfinals, and a pin in the semifinals. Coffman said they will come at the rematch a little differently than the district match.
The only other Hickman wrestler to qualify for state, 112-pound Vince Pescaglia, was upset twice to end his season. Pescaglia was undefeated before the day began, but was defeated 15-7 by Cody Tyler of Oak Park in the quarterfinals. He could not bounce back as he lost 5-3 to Tyler Stahlman of Northwest High School in the “wrestlebacks,” or consolation round.
Coffman said Pescaglia didn’t look his best, mentioning a neck injury he had earlier in the season as a possible problem. Pescaglia finished fourth in the 112-pound weight class last year. It is the first time since 2002 that a Pescaglia brother hasn’t medaled for Hickman. Vince medaled last year along with his older brothers Tony, who medaled four times from 2003-2006, and KC, who medaled three times from 2005-2007.