COLUMBIA — Hickman’s Drae Cox was hoping to be one of 56 individual champions crowned Saturday at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships. He came within three points of reaching his goal.
Cox, a 152-pound senior, was the only Columbia wrestler to make the championship round at Mizzou Arena. He fell 5-2 to Troy Buchanan senior Brian Oechsner, who finished the season 47-0 to win his first state title. Cox was 45-2. Both of Cox’s losses came at the hands of Oechsner, including a 9-2 defeat in last weekend’s district final. Coach J.D. Coffman and Cox tried to come up with a slightly different strategy this time around.
“I was trying not to tie up (with Oechsner),” Cox said.
Coffman also told Cox to wrestle on the edge of the mat more than the previous match.
“He did a better job on the edge,” Coffman said.
However, it wasn’t enough. Oechsner didn’t allow a takedown in the match and never trailed.
Cox said he wasn’t nervous or restless Friday night. However, he was pacing before the match in the tunnel and on the mat as he and Oechsner were getting announced.
“I was a little anxious,” Cox said.
Coffman said he was pleased with Cox’s effort and said Cox will be missed in the Hickman wrestling program.
“He’s been a leader for us,” Coffman said.
Cox said he has a couple of national tournaments coming up and then college wrestling. Cox is still undecided on where he will go to college.
The only Rock Bridge wrestler to earn a medal was senior Taylor Crane. Crane forfeited both his Saturday matches after battling with strep throat throughout the competition. Rock Bridge coach Brook Harlan said Crane woke up Saturday with a high temperature.
Crane finished sixth in the 140-pound weight class, his third straight top-six finish including a third-place finish last year at 135 pounds. Had he not forfeited, he would have had a chance to finish as high as third.