COLUMBIA — Before the big match began, Hickman junior J'den Cox waited in the locker room, listening to his headphones. When it was time for him to take the mat, he turned off his music and was ready for his moment.
Once the match started, Cox was able to ease to victory. He took down his opponent time after time until he was awarded the victory through technical fall in the third period.
Tolton Catholic freshman Jaydin Clayton won the Class 1 state title in the 113-pound division of Saturday's state wrestling championships. Clayton pinned his first two opponents at the tournament then earned a technical fall in his semifinal match. In the championship, Clayton beat Butler's Trey Heckadon in another technical fall, winning 21-6 to complete an undefeated season at 33-0.
On Saturday, at the Missouri state wrestling championships at Mizzou Arena, a 26-11 victory against Liberty's Keyen Braughton in the 220-pound division allowed Cox to finish his junior year with a 57-0 season record.
With the win he earned his third state title and completed his second undefeated season.
As a freshman, Cox won the 171-pound division. As a sophomore he moved up to the 215-pound division where he achieved his first undefeated season.
The headgear Cox uses was used by a family member who was also a state wrestling champion. His uncle, Phil Arnold, won state championships at Hickman in 1990 and 1991. He marked those victories by writing the years on the head gear. Cox has continued that tradition. However, this year's victory might be a little difficult to mark.
“I don’t know where I am going to put it,” Cox said with a smile.
His uncle put 1990 and 1991 on the ears, and Cox wrote 2010 and 2011 under the chin. He will have to get creative to find a space to note the 2012 victory.
Cox has verbally committed to wrestle for Missouri, but with a year left at Hickman, he is already setting goals for his senior year.
“I want to break the pins record (for a single season) ,” said Cox. The state mark of 40 was set in 2003-04.
Cox was not the only Columbia wrestler to stand on top of the podium. Rock Bridge sophomore Sam Crane won the 132-pound division championship Saturday night, defeating Russell Coleman from Park Hill High School, 4-3.
Crane said the victory was the biggest accomplishment in his life, but like Cox, Crane said he isn't done yet.
"I still have two more years of high school left," Crane said.
Blue Springs High School was the Class 4 team champion beating out Park Hill 164-144.