COLUMBIA – Rock Bridge wrestlers used the near record snowfall for two things, rest and weight gain. The team hoped to use senior night Monday to lose those extra pounds and warm up for the district tournament Friday.
The Jefferson City Jays impeded Rock Bridge's hopes of gaining momentum after the long layoff.
Rock Bridge could not overcome two forfeits early in the dual and fell to Jefferson City 45-24. Despite the loss, Bruins’ coach Travis Craig feels confident that his team will perform well at districts.
“Because of the snow we didn’t get to practice for the last four days and you lose conditioning fast after a layoff like that,” Craig said. “You just want to see kids wrestle well, and I feel all right after tonight.”
Rock Bridge senior Josh Braselton rolled to a 7-1 win at 215 pounds. Braselton said that while the rest allowed him to rejuvenate, he’s looking forward to the district tournament and hopefully the state competition.
“During this time of year, I get kind of restless. I get kind of tired with practice, and I’m anxious to just go,” Braselton said. “I’m just ready to be (at state).”
Rock Bridge featured a shuffled lineup against Jefferson City because of weight issues and injuries to Eli Stout and Josh McKinley. Craig allowed wrestlers to come in heavy so they didn’t have to worry about weight before the district tournament. Freshman Sam Crane, who, as of Jan. 26, was ranked third at 125 pounds, wrestled at 130 pounds because of the long layoff.
Rock Bridge 152-pound senior Josh Gaskins also won on senior night with a close 3-2 decision.
Rock Bridge seniors Ralph Jones and Tez Wells lost their matches. Jones, who wrestled at 152 pounds, suffered a shoulder injury in his match, but was able to finish, losing by fall in the final 50 seconds of the third period.
Wells, wrestling at 285 pounds, fell to JJ Johnson, who is ranked second in the state. Although he was disappointed with the result, Wells insists he’ll see Johnson again in district competition.
Now that the last dual meet of the season is over, Rock Bridge is looking forward to the district tournament. Craig had originally planned to give the team a break during the week before the district tournament, but, because of the missed practices, he said that the rest came too early. Craig stressed that he wants the team to peak at district competition and said that he will do the best he can to give them the right amount of conditioning and rest going into the final week of the season.
“We’re in a tough district, last year it was tough and we still sent four guys to state,” Craig said. “This year I think we’ve got nine kids with a shot at state, we just have to wrestle well.”