COLUMBIA — It only took three minutes for Hickman's J'Den Cox to become Columbia's first four-time state wrestling champion.
Cox, who hasn't lost a match since his freshman year, took on Jefferson City's John Carter in the heavyweight final Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
After a slow first period, Cox took down Carter to start the second. Once the wrestlers were on the mat, it was over in seconds. Cox pinned the heavier Carter.
The loudest cheer of the night came when Cox dropped to his knees and pointed to section 107 where his family and the Hickman faithful were watching.
"This whole moment just feels like all four championships came together in one," Cox said while trying to catch his breath. "It's unbelievable."
Cox had no problem pinning his way through the heavyweight division, even though he only weighs 210 pounds and most of the other heavyweights weighed close to 280.
"The heavyweight style is a lot slower than J'Den is used to," head coach J.D. Coffman said. "He did a great job wrestling these guys at his pace."
Cox becomes the 22nd four-time state champion in Missouri State High School Activities Association wrestling history.
Tolton’s Jaydin Clayton kept his undefeated high school record intact when he captured his second consecutive state championship.
Clayton, who moved up three weight classes from last season, took on John Anderson of Mid-Buchanan for the Class 1, 132-pound title. Clayton dominated from the beginning taking a big lead and eventually pinning his opponent early in the second period.
Clayton credits teammate Will Tindal (160 pounds) for helping him adjust to wrestling bigger guys.
“Going up against Will in practice really helped me get used to the 132-pound class,” Clayton said.
Tolton head coach Tony Eierman was impressed with the transition Clayton made into the 132-pound division.
“Being able to do the exact same thing he did as a 113 last year is amazing,” Eierman said.
After two state championships Clayton and Eierman aren’t satisfied just yet.
“We want to go up as high as we can,” Eierman said in regard to Clayton’s junior season.
Rock Bridge junior Samuel Crane lost a tough 5-4 decision to Daniel Lewis of Blue Springs in the Class 4, 138-pound final. After a scoreless first period, Crane got taken down and never overcame a 3-0 deficit.
“My offense was fine, my defense needed to be better,” Crane said. “If I don’t get taken down (in the second period), it’s a whole different match.”
Crane, who won the 132-pound title last season, took on one of the top wrestlers in the state in Lewis, who became a three-time state champion as a junior this season.
Rock Bridge head coach Travis Craig was still very impressed with how Crane wrestled. “Super gutsy performance from Sam,” Craig said. “He was up against one of the top guys in the state, if not the country.”
Altogether Columbia wrestlers brought home six total medals.
Hickman Class 4
Josiah Kline – 106 pounds – Lost his fourth round wrestleback to Bay Roehr of Christian Brothers College by a second period pin. Kline won his final match of the day with a first period pin against Stanton Finley of Nixa, capturing the fifth place medal.
Alex Shea – 145 pounds - Won his fourth round wrestleback with a 7-1 decision over Larry Prade of Francis Howell. Shea’s next match was for third place against Derrick Lapaglia of Blue Springs. Shea was defeated via a first round pin and took home the fourth place medal.
Rock Bridge Class 4
Quinn Smith – 126 pounds – Won his fourth round wrestleback with a 6-3 decision against Tyler Smith of Francis Howell North. Smith then took on Lawton Benna of Holt for the third place medal. Smith was defeated 6-0 and claims the fourth place medal.
Jason Kiehne – 132 pounds – Lost his fourth round wrestleback to Jimmy Carpenter of Park Hill South by a decision of 7-4. Kiehne was able to capture the fifth place medal with an exciting sudden victory overtime win by a score of 7-5 over Zack Enloe of Timberland.
Tolton Class 1
Will Tindal – 160 pounds – Lost his fourth round wrestleback to William Hahn of Whitfield by a decision of 6-2. Tindal was able to capture the fifth place medal with a second period pin over Joe Collins of Adrian.