COLUMBIA — Hickman wrestler J'den Cox possesses unique speed for his size, and sometimes the Hickman 215-pound sophomore's quickness shows up in unique ways.
Saturday, it could be seen during the lunch break at the 12-team Hickman Tournament while Cox relaxed in the Kewpies' gymnasium. Unfortunately for teammate Will Owens, Cox got bored.
Sneaking behind his teammate, Cox grabbed one of the legs of the chair Owens was sitting in and pulled the chair out from under him. The process took less than a second, and the only thing that saved Owens was his own quick reflexes and what he called his "energy legs."
This is a frequent prank for Cox, who said he pulled the same prank on a friend three times in a row the day before.
“He fell down every time,” Cox said while laughing.
Cox displayed his own energy legs Saturday in the championship match of the 215-pound division against main rival Josh Braselton of Rock Bridge. Cox, the top-ranked 215-pounder in Class 4, used his speed against Braselton, who boasts the No. 2-ranking, and scored key takedowns at the end of the first and second periods.
After his takedown in the first there was an audible “Ohh!” throughout the audience. Whispers of “jeez” and “that was explosive” could be heard in the gym as Cox scrambled to his feet or jetted in for a takedown.
Cox defeated Braselton 7-3 in the match, the third time he has won a meeting between the wrestlers.
Cox’s athletic ability allows him to use an adjustable style, and he said that he “doesn’t like to go in with a game plan.” He prefers to keep his options open during a match and use his physical attributes to keep his opponent guessing.
In addition to Cox’s speed and unorthodox style, he is flexible. Cox’s coach J.D. Coffman attributes the flexibility to wrestling camps Cox attended when he was younger.
“We’ve seen him do (the splits) many times, he’s had that ability since he was a freshman,” Coffman said.
Flexibility was emphasized at a young age for Cox, and it helped him several times against Braselton in the tournament.
At one point Braselton had Cox on the mat doing the splits and just needed to climb up Cox's body to finish the takedown. Unfortunately for Braselton, Cox was perfectly comfortable in the position and spun out to safety.
Rock Bridge coach Travis Craig said that Braselton wrestled a good match but “made a few mistakes” citing the late takedowns in the first and second periods. Despite Cox winning the Hickman tournament and moving to 3-0 against Braselton, Craig remains optimistic about Braselton’s chances to beat Cox in the future.
“This match was a lot closer than the score indicated.” Craig said. “Each time J’den and Josh wrestle it’s getting closer.”
Although Braselton didn't win, Rock Bridge teammates Quinn Smith (103 pounds), Sam Crane (125) and Josh Gaskins (152) all won their weight classes.
Northwest won the tournament with 252.5 points, while Rock Bridge finished second with 206.5. Jefferson City finished third with 176.
Keith Kimbrough (145 pounds) was the only other wrestler to win their weight class for the 10th-place Kewpies, but Coffman said he was "happy with the results of the tournament."