JEFFERSON CITY— Rock Bridge senior wrestler Will Evans said that qualifying for this year’s state tournament, his third, felt better than any of the others.
In the consolation semi-final match, Evans wrestled Joplin’s Brent Eagles. In 2009, Evans was in the consolation semifinals but lost, making it the only year in his high school career that he did not qualified for state.
This time, Evans was trailing Eagles with time running out, but got a takedown with 1.1 seconds remaining to take a 4-3 lead and hang on for the win to qualify.
“I was ecstatic,” Rock Bridge coach Travis Craig said of Evans’ close match. “It was a great win for him and I’m really proud. To see him come through here despite all the adversity is great.”
Evans, who went into this weekend’s district tournament with a 7-9 record on the season, had to overcome a lot of adversity this season. In December, Evans became anemic and had to miss some matches. He started to feel better at the end of December, but said he didn’t feel 100 percent until districts.
“I just had so much energy today,” Evans said. “I was able to wrestle energized for the first time in a while.”
Evans said there were four or five matches this season where he lost but felt he could have won.
“This feels really good to be on the other side of it, to have things work out,” Evans said. “If I had to trade those five matches with this one, I wouldn’t do it at all.”
Evans overcame more adversity at districts when he lost his first match in the double-elimination tournament, but won four straight matches to finish in third place.
Evans was one of four Bruins to qualify for state, including sophomore Trent Johnson and juniors Josh Gaskins and Josh Braselton. Hickman qualified two wrestlers for state, freshman J’den Cox and sophomore Will Owens.
Cox was the only district champion.