COLUMBIA — Hickman freshman wrestler J’den Cox might be giving former Missouri wrestler Ben Askren a run for his money for best hairstyle in Mid-Missouri wrestling.
Askren, a 2008 Olympian, was known for his big, curly afro.
Cox doesn't have as much hair, but its unique nevertheless. He bleached his hair in preparation for the state tournament.
“It just makes you feel good,” Cox said. “It’s just a tradition. My brothers did it, now I want to do it.”
Cox, who has a 50-3 record this season, said he has always bleached his hair before the youth club state tournaments, and the tradition started with his two older brothers, Zach and Drae Cox.
J'den Cox is one of six area wrestlers that is set to compete in this weekend’s state tournament, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Mizzou Arena.
“I know he’s done that in the past,” Hickman coach J.D. Coffman said. “To my knowledge, we don’t do that at the high school very often.”
Cox enters the tournament as the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state at 171 pounds, but doesn't like the pressure that ranking gives.
“It means I have a target on my back, but everyone still has to go in there and wrestle,” Cox said. “Whenever it comes to state, everybody is 0-0.”
Cox’s first opponent at state will be Benjamin Poeschl of Lee’s Summit West, who has a 37-6 record this season.
Cox defeated Poeschl at the Lee’s Summit West tournament earlier in the season.
“Anytime you wrestle somebody more than once, they’re going to be schooled in the previous match, and they’re going to be a little more strategic the second time around,” Coffman said.
Only one of the three wrestlers who defeated Cox this season will be in his bracket at state. Jackson’s Ryan Marble defeated Cox earlier this season, 3-2. They could meet in the semifinals.
Hickman's only other state qualifier is sophomore Will Owens at 189 pounds.
“They both have a lot of energy as young guys but neither of them have any experience at the state meet,” Coffman said.
Rock Bridge enters four wrestlers into the state tournament. Senior Will Evans at 130, sophomore Trent Johnson at 135, junior Josh Gaskins at 145 and junior Josh Braselton at 215. Braselton is ranked No. 5 in the state.