COLUMBIA — John Vo went airborne.
His wrestling match with teammate Ibraim Mushtalov was punctuated by Mushtalov sending Vo flying high over his shoulder and crashing down on the mat. Soon after, Mushtalov pinned Vo.
The match was just one of many that took place Wednesday night during the Kewpies' Purple and Gold Dual. The event was held in order for the wrestlers to gain experience and for parents to see their children compete before the regular season begins. Some matches were held to decide who would wrestle varsity instead of junior varsity at a particular weight class.
"Some of the matches were definitely for places as far as varsity and JV," Kewpies head coach J.D. Coffman said. "The others were just to get our kids experienced. Putting them in a live competition in front of a crowd is a little different than putting them in a live competition in our own wrestling room."
Coffman spoke with parents before the matches about some of the rules of wrestling and about fundraising for the program. He even had two wrestlers do a demonstration match for people not familiar with the sport.
Fourteen separate duals took place after that, beginning with the 106-pound division, and ending with the two heaviest wrestlers on the team, Umar Lapidze and Dustin Walters, facing off in the 220-pound division.
"We saw some things that are encouraging from our young inexperienced wrestlers," Coffman said. "A few of our kids that are returning athletes won their matches pretty handily."
A few returning athletes, such as state champion J'den Cox and senior Will Owens, did not participate in the duals and watched from the side. This night was not for them. Wrestlers who needed the experience received it while Cox, Owens, and others cheered them on.
Overall, the scrimmage was about getting the entire squad ready for competitive action.
"It’s always good to be out in this kind of competition instead of the practice room," Kewpies assistant coach Doug Gordon said, who has been with the program for six years. "We bump and hit each other all the time. It’s still the same thing, but it’s in a more professional setting. This gives up an idea of what our team is going to be like when we step out onto the mat Tuesday against Rock Bridge and Kirksville."
Mushtalov, fresh off of his victory over Vo, was pleased with how his match played out.
"It went well actually," Mushtalov said. "It’s exciting, very exciting to get things going."