COLUMBIA — Hickman 119-pound senior Vince Pescaglia and Rock Bridge 145-pound senior Thomas Senseman are Columbia's two representatives in this year's high school state wrestling tournament. Pescaglia is making his third appearance and Senseman is making his first. Pescaglia says he wants a state championship. Senseman is just glad to have qualified.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Pescaglia and Senseman is not their experience or their goals, but their training. Pescaglia has a room full of spectators and wrestlers, including older brothers Tony and K.C. Pescaglia, both former state champions. Senseman is only training with fellow Rock Bridge senior Elliot Rutter.
Pescaglia (43-2) says he likes the attention and enjoys practicing with numerous wrestlers. At practices this week, Pescaglia has been forced to run the gauntlet, where he must get 10 takedowns on numerous opponents before he is allowed to take a breather.
"This time it is all about me," Vince Pescaglia said. "It's really nice. I get as many people as I want to work with me on the stuff I need to improve on."
Hickman coach J.D. Coffman said Vince Pescaglia performs the best when his brothers are around.
"The biggest thing right now for him is just to work out the flaws that he had and that’s really all he’s working on now," Coffman said. "To continue to make it a muscle memory and to continue to build his own confidence."
Although Pescaglia did not place last year year because of a neck injury, he has experience wrestling at the state level, having finished fourth as a sophomore. Still, Pescaglia knows he will need confidence this year.
"I’m planning on winning it, but I need to go one match at a time," he said. "I've got a pretty decent kid in my first match. I got to get through him and each match. It is very hard because even the best kids can get caught."
Senseman (30-10) and Rutter have drilled with each other all season. Rutter came within one match of making the tournament himself. They are familiar with one another and Senseman said that he can focus better when he is wrestling the same person.
"I'm the most comfortable with him (Elliot)," Senseman said. "I've been wrestling with him all year long. That's kind of how I've gotten better. If I keep doing what I've been doing, then it will work out."
Rock Bridge coach Travis Craig said he is confident in his wrestler and believe this method of training is best for Senseman.
"Having just Thomas and Elliot in the room, it keeps the distraction level out of there," Craig said. "It allows me to focus on what they're doing and make sure that they're staying focused on drilling and their technique."
Sensemen said, "Getting to state was my goal. Now it's just like, I want to try as hard as I can. I'm going to accept whatever happens here, but I'm going to wrestle hard. Of course it would be nice to win a few matches or more than that, but I don’t have a particular goal."
Class 4 wrestling starts at 5 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena. Vince Pescaglia's first opponent is Dan Wrocklage (27-12) of Lafayette, and Senseman's first opponent is Jason Applegate (39-11) of Liberty. The tournament will continue Friday and Saturday.