COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge and Hickman athletics are fierce rivals, except when it comes to wrestling.
It is not very often that two rivals have the amount of respect that both wrestling programs have shown each other this weekend at the state tournament at Mizzou Arena. So it's no surprise that both fan sections acknowledged Rock Bridge's Sam Crane (138 pounds) and Hickman's J'den Cox (285 pounds) when they earned a spot in Saturday's championship matches.
"The wrestling community is different from other sports," Rock Bridge head coach Travis Craig said. "We get to know each other pretty well because we're always at the same tournaments and duals."
Hickman head coach J.D. Coffman also acknowledged the difference between other team sports and wrestling.
"We support each other when we're not head to head," Coffman said. "It's not all that common." Especially between two schools who are separated by less than five miles.
At the 2013 state tournament, no Rock Bridge or Hickman wrestlers are in the same weight class, so it's easy for them to cheer one another on.
"I wanted all of them to win, they're good kids," Rock Bridge junior Cody Maly said.
The eight wrestlers from both schools who qualified for the state tournament also wrestled together at Eierman Elite Wrestling Club before they split up for high school. It was through the club that the friendship and respect began.
"We still like to compete against each other in duals, but when it comes to the state tournament, we want to prove that Columbia has some good wrestlers," Hickman senior Alex Shea said.
With two wrestlers from Father Tolton Catholic High School who can also medal Saturday, Columbia wrestlers have a chance for eight medals in the final day of the state wrestling tournament.
Quarterfinal and semifinal results
Rock Bridge Class 4
Quinn Smith — 126 pounds — Won his quarterfinal match 2-0 against Mike Taylor of Francis Howell Central but was defeated in the semifinals by a score of 13-3 by Joseph Velliquette of Nixa. Smith will wrestle for third or fifth place.
Jason Kiehne — 132 pounds — Lost a tough quarterfinal match 3-2 to Canton Marriott of Park Hill. Kiehne was able to win his next two wrestleback matches and will wrestle for third or fifth place.
Sam Crane — 138 pounds — Won both of his matches, including a close 3-1 victory against Nick Olejnik of Lafayette. Crane will wrestle for the 138-pound title against Blue Springs' Daniel Lewis.
Kyle Johnston — 160 pounds —Lost a close quarterfinal match to Austin Eads of Blue Spring South by a score of 6-4. Johnston lost his first wrestleback and was eliminated.
Cody Maly — 182 pounds — Lost his quarterfinal match to Zach Wagster of Holt by a score of 4-1. Maly won his first wrestleback but was eliminated the next round.
Hickman Class 4
Josiah Kline — 106 pounds — Lost his quarterfinal match in overtime to Brett Stoffel of Marquette by a score of 6-3. Kline won his next two wrestlebacks and will wrestle for third or fifth place.
Alex Shea — 145 pounds — Won his quarterfinal match by a score of 8-4 over Russell Coleman of Parkhill. Shea was pinned by Lawrence Krabbe of Mehlvillein in the semifinals and will wrestle for third or fifth place.
J'den Cox — 285 pounds — Won both of his matches via pin, including a dominating performance over Xyah Ra of Nixa. Cox will take on Jefferson City's John Carter for the heavyweight title.
Tolton Class 1
Jaydin Clayton — 132 pounds — Won both of his matches via pin to advance to the title match against John Anderson of Mid-Buchanan. Clayton is looking for his second consecutive state title.
Will Tindal — 160 pounds — Lost his quarterfinal match by pin by Jalen Skaggs of Seneca. Tindle was able to come from behind twice in wrestlebacks and will have a chance to wrestle for third or fifth place.